The Benefits of Parsley for Bones, Bad Breath & Cancer-Busting (And 4 Parsley-Powered Green Smoothie Recipes)
– by Carol Jensen and Veraveg.org
If you think parsley is just something old-fashioned that Grandma put on her plate to make it look pretty, think again, girl. Parsley has come of age, and is finally being recognized as a powerhouse of nutrition and flavour. Recently it has been recognized as a superb addition to any green smoothie.
In this article we’ll explore the benefits of both curly and flat-leafed parsley for health, cancer-fighting and overall health, as well as share four green smoothie recipes loaded up with parsley to power up your nutrition even more!
Herbal History of Flat and Curly Parsley
Italian Flat Leafed Parsley (Petroselinum neapolitanum) has been cultivated and developed over so many centuries that its precise origins are difficult to pinpoint. This is compounded by the fact that the parsleys we know today probably bear little resemblance to their ancestors. The botanical name Petroselinum comes from the Greek word for stone, which is petro, given to parsley because it was found growing on rocky hillsides in Greece.
Parsley’s reputation is at least 2,000 years old. It was sacred to the Greeks and was used to make crowns for athletes much like laurel for the Olympians. Legend has it that when Greek hero Archemorus was killed by poisonous serpents, parsley sprang up where his blood spilled on the ground. To the Hebrews, the Passover herb represented spring and rebirth. Even Charlemagne and Catherine Medici were said to have grown parsley in their garden. It is reportedly Catherine who popularized the parsley in Europe. Although the Ancient Greeks did not use parsley in cooking, it was revered as a symbol of oblivion and death and as a funeral herb. While the Greeks used the herb to fashion wreaths for graves, parsley is used in the Hebrew celebration of Passover as a symbol of spring and rebirth.
Parsley is mentioned as one of the plants in the gardens of Charlemagne and Catherine de Medici. Rumor has it that Medici is responsible for popularizing parsley when she brought it back to France from its native Italy. In medieval times parsley was surrounded by much superstition, one belief being that the long germination period for the seeds was due to them having to travel to hell and back seven times before sprouting.
Parsley has long been popular in European and Mediterranean cuisine. A favorite of King Henry VIII, he relished a parsley sauce on top of his roasted rabbit.
Benefits Parsley for Digestion, Kidneys, Hormones and Detox
Parsley root has been used medicinally since ancient times for digestive disorders, bronchitis, and urinary tract problems. As far back as Hippocrates parsley was used in medicinal recipes for cure-alls, general tonics, poison antidotes, anti-rheumetics and formulas to relieve kidney and bladder stones. One herbalist used the small brown seeds of the plant to help “those who are light-headed to resist drink better.”
In Russia, a preparation containing mostly Parsley juice is given during labor to stimulate uterine contractions. The juice has been used to treat toothache, and as a hair rinse or as a facial steam for dry skin. Other uses for parsley root have been to tone the urinary tract reducing the possibility of infections, alleviate painful menstruation, lowering blood pressure and improving asthma, allergies and bronchitis by drying excessive mucous.
Modern science has confirmed many of these claims. Parsley is rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and C, and compounds that clear toxins from the body. It also reduces inflammations, contains histamine inhibitors and is a free radical scavenger. Commercially, oil from the seeds is used to scent Oriental style perfumes and colognes. Because of the high chlorophyll content, it acts as a great breath freshener. Scientists have even isolated a compound, apiol, which is now used in medications to treat kidney ailments and kidney stones.
Benefits of Parsley For Fighting Bad Breath, Bone Loss and Cancer
Named “rock celery” in the early Greek culture because it grew on stony hillsides, parsley has more than 30 varieties, but curly-leaf and Italian flat-leaf are the most well-known. The curly variety is more commonly added to fresh dishes, because it keeps its crispness and is milder, while flat-leaf is often added to cooked foods because of its tendency to wilt and its more pungent flavour.
Parsley has come to the attention of the green smoothie community because of its aesthetic appeal, healing properties, reputation as a trusted herb, and ease of obtaining, storing and preparing.
To select parsley, look for leaves that are not yellowed or wilted. Rinse it in cool water and shake or spin it dry. Store it in an airtight plastic bag or plastic storage container in the refrigerator to keep it crisp until use. If you have an abundance of parsley, that’s easy too. The flat-leafed variety can be dried on paper towels on the counter then put in an airtight container. The curly-leafed variety can be wrapped in foil or plastic and then frozen.
Its appeal goes beyond the fact that it adds a splash of color to an otherwise colorless meal. When added to a smoothie, it turns the drink a delightful bright green. Not only that, it has breath-freshening properties, too. Available year-round in any super-market, it is inexpensive, especially compared to other greens. One bunch of parsley is usually available for a dollar or less.
Parsley’s two most favorable healing properties are its volatile oils and its flavanoids. The volatile oils have been shown in studies to inhibit tumor formation and to neutralize certain carcinogens, thereby classifying them as “chemoprotective.” Flavanoids, of course, serve as anti-oxidants, preventing free-radical damage to cells. In combination, parsley’s volatile oils, flavanoids, and high Vitamin A content may help reduce cancer risk.
Parsley contains 150% of the RDA for Vitamin K. This vitamin allows blood to clot normally and fights osteoporosis because it protects bones from fracturing and minimizes postmenopausal bone loss. Other important healing elements of parsley include Vitamin C (anti-arthritis), folic acid (heart health) and iron (formation of red blood cells).
Parsley-Powered Green Smoothie Recipes
To ramp up your next green smoothie, try one of these combinations:
Parsley Pear Pair
- 1/2 bunch parsley
- 3 pears
- 2 stalks celery
- 3 cups water and ice
Pears, Pineapple, Parsley!
- 2 ripe pears
- 1/3 of a fresh pineapple (approx)
- half a frozen banana (to add body and potassium)
- 1/3 of a large bunch of parsley (approx)
- 1/2″ slice of fresh ginger
- 1 cup of filtered water
- 1 cup of ice cubes (optional)
- 1 mango
- 1/2 bunch parsley
- 3 cups water
- 2 pears
- 1 mango
- 1/2 bunch parsley
- 1 cup coconut meat
- Water for blending
If you think parsley is just something old-fashioned that Grandma put on her plate to make it look pretty, think again, girl. Parsley has come of age, and is finally being recognized as a powerhouse of nutrition and flavor. Recently it has been recognized as a superb addition to any green smoothie.
About the Authors: Carol Jensen is a kind and generous contributor to our blog. Many thanks to the Vectis Road Allotments Association, affectionately known as VERA to its members, for sharing their cultivated history of veggies! Situated in the heart of historic East Cowes, the VERA allotments offer fun, friendship, peace, tranquility and, if you’re prepared to make the effort, the opportunity to grow and eat your own, fantastic veg. We look forward to sharing more education with you from them about the leaves we love!