Used with permission from Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet by Tonia Reinhard, $24.95 paperback, Firefly Books, 2010. The following excerpt can be found on Page 161.
• Petroselinum crispum
In a Nutshell
ORIGIN: Southeastern Europe and western Asia
SEASON: Summer; available year-round
WHY IT'S SUPER: High in vitamins A, C, and K, folate, fiber, and iron; good source of potassium, calcium, magnesium, and manganese; contains antioxidant carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lutein, and eaxanthin, as well as flavonoids
GROWING AT HOME: Easily grown in the home garden
What’s in a Serving of Fresh Parsley?(1 cup/60 grams)
CALORIES: 22 (91 kJ)
PROTEIN: 1.8 grams
TOTAL FAT: 0.5 grams
SATURATED FAT: 0.1 grams
CARBOHYDTATES: 3.8 grams
FIBER: 2 grams
Although it has been cultivated for centuries, parsley remains an afterthought for many in the West, frequently being relegated to the role of a garnish. Incontrast, Middle Eastern cuisine has made good use of this nutrient-rich herb, notably in the traditional salad known as tabbouleh, where it is the main ingredient.
The genus name, Petroselinum, is derived from the Greek words for “rock” and “celery,” a reference to the herb’s tendency to grow on rocky cliffs. There are numerous cultivars of parsley, but the most common are curly parsley and Italian or flat leaf parsley. The latter variety is more aromatic and less bitter than curly parsley.
Fresh parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, folate, fiber, and iron, and a good source of potassium, calcium, magnesium, and manganese. It also contains antioxidant flavonoids, and the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
The Healthy Evidence
In a 2007 study published in the journal International Journal of Oncology, researchers at Case Western Reserve University reviewed international epidemiologic data on cancer and dietary intake. They found that apigenin, a flavonoid in parsley, has been “shown to possess remarkable anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties.” The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects would also suggest that parsley can also help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Making the Most of Parsley
Eating parsley fresh will provide maximum levels of nutrients. Try using it as a salad green in combination with-mild flavored greens. Adding legumes or cheese, and a side serving of whole-grain bread, will make it a nutrient-rich meal
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