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P is for Parsley

The activities of the volatile oils qualify parsley as a “chemo-protective” food ...

Parsley is the world’s most popular herb.  Its name is derived from the Greek word meaning “rock celery” (parsley is a cousin to celery).  Parsley belongs to the Umbelliferae family of plants, and its Latin name is Petroselinum crispum.  Parsley is a biennial plant that will continue to grow in your garden {or potted} year after year. 

Parsley contains two types of unique components that make is so health-ful.  The first is volatile oils; including myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene.  And secondly is flavonoids; including apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin.

In animal studies, myristicin has been shown to inhibit tumor formation, specifically in the lungs.  Myristicin has also been shown to activate an enzyme known as glutathione-S-transferase.  A long word with a huge function, it aids in the attachment of glutathione to other oxidized molecules that might otherwise cause damage in the body. 

The activities of the volatile oils qualify parsley as a “chemo-protective” food, ie food that neutralizes particular types of carcinogens such as benzopyrenes found in cigarette and charcoal grill smoke.

Luteolin has been known to function as an antioxidant because it combines with reactive oxygen-containing molecules to help prevent damage to cells.  In addition, extracts from parsley used in animal studies actually increases the antioxidant capacity of the blood.

Parsley is also an excellent source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A and Beta-carotene.

As you know, Vitamin C has many functions. It is a water-soluble antioxidant.  High levels of free radicals may contribute to the development of a number of diseases; including atherosclerosis, colon cancer, diabetes, and asthma.  Generally folks who consume high amounts of foods containing Vitamin C reduce their risk of these conditions.  Vitamin C is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and has been known to be useful in arthritic conditions.  Since Vitamin C is vital for a healthy functioning immune system, it is also helpful for preventing infections and colds.

Beta-carotene, another powerful antioxidant, works in the fat-soluble areas of the body.  Lifestyles high in beta-carotene rich foods are also known to have reduced risks of atherosclerosis, diabetes, and colon cancer.  Vitamin C and beta-carotene may be helpful in reducing the severity of asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Beta-carotene is converted by the body to Vitamin A, a nutrient so important to a strong immune system that its nickname is the “anti-infective vitamin.”

Parsley is a great source of folic acid, perhaps the most important B vitamin.  One of its most critical roles is the relation to cardiovascular health and its participation in the body process that converts homocysteine into benign molecules.  High levels of homocysteine can damage blood vessels and may be associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke.  Folic acid contributes to proper cell division and is therefore vitally important for prevention in two major areas of the body which contain a host of rapidly dividing cells; the cervix and the colon.

Two popular types of parsley are curly and Italian flat leaf.  Both are quite tasty and fragrant.  And, of course both taste better when picked or purchased fresh!  Guess what I'm having for dinner!     :)

Copyright Janet Meredith. Originally written and published 01/13/11 via twisted-yoga.blogspot.

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