Not everybody knows that Parsley is not just a spice with very pleasant flavor, but also an herb that contains plenty of beneficial nutrients and properties that herbalists all over the world have been using for long time. Parsley is general name for Petroselinum genus from family Apiaceae that contains over 30 varieties.
In herbal medicine mainly two types of parsley are used: Petroselinum crispum and Petroselinum neapolitanum, commonly known as parsley with curled leaves and Italian parsley (with more flat leaves). One more type of parsley is cultivated for its root - Hamburg parsley, or its biological name Petroselinum crispum, that is also used in cuisine and herbal medicine.
Parsley is a biennial herb with bright green leaves with rather strong flavor (Italian parsley has much stronger flavor due to its chemical compounds). The plant grows up to 30-40 cm, all the stem grow from the centre, having lots of small bright green leaves, outer leaves are generally bigger than those that are near the stem. The flavor of parsley bush is spread all over it, especially after the rain (or watering).
Parsley is a plant that grows well either in deep pot indoors or in gardens near houses. Prefers sunny locations or partial shade and grows in all kinds of soils. It needs moist soils and sun only for parsley seed to germinate, that can be better achieved indoors in pots; and then parsley plant can be placed into your garden. To achieve better growth keep the soil wet and pick out the outer leaves of parsley, so the new ones can grow instead.
Parsley is native to South Europe and is very popular in all European countries and America as a spicy flavor (its herbal properties very often are underestimated).
Two kinds of parsley – Italian and curled leaves parsley is used for its leaves in herbal medicine. Also seeds are used. Hamburg parsley is cultivated for its root, which is also used both in herbal medicine and in cooking.
Parsley leaves should be picked all over the summer, so other leaves may mature. Parsley is available in several forms on the market:
· Fresh parsley
Fresh parsley is the best choice for you (avoid yellow leaves or those, that do not look fresh)
· Frozen parsley
Other storage option, that also keeps maximum nutritional elements and beneficial properties, is freezing in refrigerator (you can cut leaves, but the whole bunch of leave is better). After you buy parsley or collect it from your garden, rinse it, put it in a glass of water (use it in the next 2-3 days) or in a plastic bag and freeze.
· Dried parsley
You can also dry parsley, for that you need to rinse the leaves, chop them thoroughly and let it dry in your window- sill, then store in small amounts in closed containers. If you buy dried parley in market – buy it also in small amounts as it looses its flavor when opened. Of course, make sure you buy organically grown parsley.
· Parsley is also available as an oil (from its seeds)
Parsley has lots of components that make it very beneficial in treating different ailments. The plant is a huge source of vitamins: three times more vitamin C than in orange, vitamin A (beta-carotene and carotenoid), vitamin K and folic acid (one of B vitamin). Parsley is rather rich in iron content and folate.
Parsley has a nice flavor thanks to high content of essential oil, especially apiol (flat leave parsley has more of it). In addition, it is high in volatile oil content and in flavonoids (gives antioxidant properties). Parsley clear toxins and free radicals from the body and stops (or elevate) inflammation processes. All the components make parsley a true treasure to herbalists all over the world.
Due to its unique components usage of parsley has following health benefits:
Usage of parsley is a great benefit. If you use it in cooking, try to add it at the very end of cooking process. Parsley Tea is very useful.
The only caution is to carefully use it while pregnancy (as parsley is rich in vitamin A, is a diuretic and can stimulate the uterine contractions). Also, avoid eating parsley if you have problems with gallbladder or kidney, as it can increase the amount of oxalates that increases the risk of occurring health problems in these areas.
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