Benefits of Parsley
Parsley or garden parsley is a species of Petroselinum in the family Apiaceae.

1. What is Parsley
Parsley is an annual herb indigenous to the Mediterranean region, but now cultivated worldwide. It has erect stems and bright green leaves. Two cultivars of parsley exist: a curly leaf type and a flat leaf type. Parsley produces an umbel of tiny flowers and characteristic ribbed seeds. Caution must be used when gathering wild parsley because of the general similarity of its leaves and flowers to 3 common poisonous plants. The first, Aethusa cynapium (dog poison, fools parsley, small hemlock) may be distinguished from parsley by the shiny, yellowgreen underside of the leaves, which are dull in parsley, and the white flowers, which are yellowish in parsley.

2. Description
While parsley is a wonderfully nutritious and healing food, it is often underappreciated. Most people do not realize that this vegetable has more uses than just being a decorative garnish that accompanies restaurant meals. They do not know that parsley is actually a storehouse of nutrients and that it features a delicious green and vibrant taste. The two most popular types of parsley are curly parsley and Italian flat leaf parsley. The Italian variety has a more fragrant and less bitter taste than the curly variety. There is also another type of parsley known as turniprooted (or Hamburg) that is cultivated for its roots, which resemble salsify and burdock. Parsley belongs to the Umbelliferae family of plants, and its Latin name is Petroselinum crispum.

3. History
Parsley is native to the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe. While it has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years, parsley was used medicinally prior to being consumed as a food. The ancient Greeks held parsley to be sacred, using it to not only adorn victors of athletic contests, but also for decorating the tombs of the deceased. The practice of using parsley as a garnish actually has a long history that can be traced back to the civilization of the ancient Romans.

4. Health Benefits
A sprig of parsley can provide much more than a decoration on your plate. Parsley contains two types of unusual components that provide unique health benefits. The first type is volatile oil componentsincludingmyristicin,limonene,eugenol, andalphathujene. The second type is flavonoidsincludingapiin,apigenin,crisoeriol, andluteolin.

5. Promote Optimal Health
Parsleys volatile oilsparticularly myristicinhave been shown to inhibit tumor formation in animal studies, and particularly, tumor formation in the lungs. Myristicin has also been shown to activate the enzymeglutathioneStransferase, which helps attach the molecule glutathione to oxidized molecules that would otherwise do damage in the body. The activity of parsleys volatile oils qualifies it as a chemoprotective food, and in particular, a food that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens (like thebenzopyrenesthat are part of cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke).

6. A Rich Source of AntiOxidant Nutrients
The flavonoids in parsleyespecially luteolinhave been shown to function as antioxidants that combine with highly reactive oxygencontaining molecules (called oxygen radicals) and help prevent oxygenbased damage to cells. In addition, extracts from parsley have been used in animal studies to help increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood. In addition to its volatile oils and flavonoids, parsley is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A (notably through its concentration of the provitamin A carotenoid, betacarotene).

7. Parsley for a Healthy Heart
Parsley is a good source of folic acid, one of the most important B vitamins. While it plays numerous roles in the body, one of its most critical roles in relation to cardiovascular health is its necessary participation in the process through which the body convertshomocysteineinto benign molecules. Homocysteine is a potentially dangerous molecule that, at high levels, can directly damage blood vessels, and high levels of homocysteine are associated with a significantly increased risk of heart attack and stroke in people with atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease. Enjoying foods rich in folic acid, like parsley, is an especially good idea for individuals who either have, or wish to prevent, these diseases.

8. Protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis
While one study suggests that high doses of supplemental vitamin C makes osteoarthritis, a type of degenerative arthritis that occurs with aging, worse in laboratory animals, another indicates that vitamin Crich foods, such as parsley, provide humans with protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints. The findings, presented in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases were drawn from a study of more than 20,000 subjects who kept diet diaries and were arthritisfree when the study began, and focused on subjects who developed inflammatory polyarthritis and similar subjects who remained arthritisfree during the followup period. Subjects who consumed the lowest amounts of vitamin Crich foods were more than three times more likely to develop arthritis than those who consumed the highest amounts.

9. How to Select
Whenever possible, choose fresh parsley over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor. Choose fresh parsley that is deep green in color and looks fresh and crisp. Avoid bunches that have leaves that are wilted or yellow as this indicates that they are either overmature or damaged. Just like with other dried herbs, if you choose to purchase dried parsley flakes, try to select organically grown parsley since this will give you more assurance that the herbs have not been irradiated.

10. How to store
If you have excess flat leaf parsley, you can easily dry it by laying it out in a single layer on a clean kitchen cloth. Once dried, it should be kept in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place. Curly leaf parsley is best preserved by freezing, as opposed to drying. Although it will retain most of its flavor, it has a tendency to lose its crispness, so it is best used in recipes without first thawing.

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Benefits of Parsley

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