When I was growing up, mom often garnished dinner with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.  Those bits of green brightened up the plate and made it more appetizing.  But it wasn’t until years later that I came to appreciate parsley as a powerful and cleansing green – an herb worthy of my attention beyond the garnish.

Cancer Fighter?

Parsley’s power comes from its volatile oils and flavonoids.   The volatile oils in parsley, particularly myristicin, make it a “chemoprotective” food, helping neutralize carcinogens like cigarette and charcoal grill smoke.  It even inhibits tumor formation in animal studies.  The flavonoids in parsley act like antioxidants, fighting free-radical damage to cells.

Want Strong Bones?

Just 2 tablespoons of parsley delivers over 150% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K.  Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin required for proper blood clotting, strong bones, and heart disease prevention.  The vitamin K in parsley and green vegetables is primarily vitamin K1, or phylloquinone.  A two-year, randomized controlled trial demonstrated that healthy older women with high dietary vitamin K1 in combination with vitamin D3 and calcium had better bone health.

How to Get More Parsley Into Your Diet

Only 1 in 4 Americans are getting enough vitamin K, so adding parsley and other dark leafy greens to our diets is essential to better health.  So how do you move parsley from garnish to star ingredient?

Buy Flat, Not Curly – Italian flat leaf parsley is more fragrant and less bitter than curly parsley, and has a clean, fresh taste.

Keep it Fresh – Choose fresh parsley with deep green color, and store it in the refrigerator, loosely wrapped with paper towels inside a bag.  Wash it right before use.

Add it At the End – As with other fresh herbs, add chopped parsley toward the end of cooking to maintain its flavor and color.

Use the Stems – Save the stems for your juicer or blender green smoothies.

Make a Pesto – Parsley gets star treatment in a pesto in place of basil.  Try making Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto and Sausage.  My family ate it up!

Make it a Primary Ingredient – Let parsley’s fresh flavor shine by including a cup or more in a dish like Quinoa Salad with Artichokes and Parsley or Arugula-Parsley Salad.

The next time you buy a bunch of fresh parsley, I challenge you to use it all up!  Don’t let this powerful herb go to a soggy waste in the bottom of your veggie drawer.   Chop it up and add it your soups, smoothies, juices and salads.

Are you inspired to eat more parsley?  Share your comments below.