15 Parsley Health Benefits (For Cancer Prevention & Detox)

Health benefits of parsley featured image

The amazing health benefits of parsley are as real as the strong green color on the herb itself. Not only does parsley help the body fight cancer, improve the immune system and fend off many illnesses, but this bright green herb tastes great as well especially when mixed with the right complementary ingredients.

Parsley is meant to be eaten and not just used as garnish. It is the main ingredient of the classic tabbouleh salad, Lebanon’s national parsley salad and one of the world’s healthiest foods.

The history of the parsley plant

Parsley originated from the Mediterranean region and was cultivated as early as 2,500 years ago. Its roots go back to ancient Roman civilizations where it was used as a decorative item in tombs.

Parsley was considered to be sacred in other civilizations as well. In ancient Greece it was not only used to decorate the tombs of the dead but also to adorn athletic champions.

Prior to being consumed as food, parsley was considered to be an important medicinal item.

Today, parsley continues to be consumed on a daily basis by people in the Eastern Mediterranean region and has become highly regarded by serious juicing enthusiasts all over the world. Parsley energy drinks and teas are now more popular than ever.

Types of parsley: Curly parsley and Italian parsley (or flat leaf parsley)

Parsley is very popular in Mediterranean cuisine and can be found in abundance there. Mediterranean parsley (or what is known in the U.S. as Italian or flat-leaf parsley) is soft and silky.

Parsley is fairly inexpensive in the cultures that use it frequently. For the price of 1 bunch of parsley in the U.S. you can buy 8-10 bunches of parsley in Lebanon. Each bunch is about double the size of a bunch found in an American grocery store.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) comes from the Umbelliferae family. It is a distant cousin of celery and carrots because it comes from the same family. The one difference is that we gladly eat celery and carrots in the Western world, but we don’t know what to do with parsley. We ignore it and we use it simply to garnish other plates.

When you wander into your local supermarket produce aisle, you may notice two types of vibrant green parsley:

The curly parsley. This parsley has very bright green color, and the leafs are rolled up and more compact than the other flat-leaf parsley type leaves. This is more suitable for garnishing foods.

ParsleyThe flat-leaf parsley or “Italian parsley”. This parsley has smoother leaves than the curly type. Its green color looks a bit darker than that of cilantro which has a much more distinctive taste.

This flat-leaf variety has a more fragrant scent and a less bitter taste than the curly parsley type. This is what is normally used to chop and add in salads, such as tabbouleh.

Cooking with Italian parsley. Since Italian parsley has a stronger flavor than curly parsley, it may be best when used in cooking. It is also most favorable in hot dishes that require the use of parsley.

Use it towards the end of the cooking phase so that you preserve as much taste, nutrition, and color as possible.

Parsley stems for stews. Feel free to use the parsley stems in long-cooked meals or in stews.

General use. Use fresh parsley in juices and chopped parsley in soups, grilled fish and salads. You can always combine garlic with chopped parsley.

  • Add some lemon zest for a great rub with lamb, beef, or chicken.
  • Add chopped parsley to any salad and make sure to eat it fresh whenever you can.

Preparing parsley 

Since fresh parsley has many leaves, it may collect dirt or be dirty when you buy it from the grocery store.

Make sure your parsley is free of dirt or debris before you eat it. You can always place it in a good sized container or bowl with some cold water and swish the parsley around the bowl to remove the residue. Empty the water, refill, and repeat until you have clean leaves.

Parsley nutritional facts

Parsley nutritional facts

There are very few calories in parsley. Even with the insignificant 22 calories in a cup of chopped parsley, parsley energy works wonders inside your cells.

Fresh parsley contains a high content of chlorophyll which makes its color super green. This substance can help mask the odor of many other foods like onion and garlic.

In addition, parsley has a large number of nutrients.

  • Flavonoid, folic acid, carotene, and vitamin C. In addition to its high content of chlorophyll, parsley is a good source of flavonoid (which signals the presence of antioxidants to the cells), folic acid (a nutrient that can be critical in maintaining cardiovascular health), carotenes (they absorb light energy and transmits it to the chlorophyll substance), and vitamin C (for repair of tissues).
  • Vitamin K1. Vitamin K1 has a good effect on reducing coronary arteries calcification in adults.
  • Trace minerals. Parsley is also a good source of minerals that help cells function properly. Such minerals are iron (for blood production), copper, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and zinc.
  • Cancer fighting qualities. You would never guess that parsley contains traces of oil, but the natural organic compounds myristicin (also found in nutmeg), limonene (also found in orange fruit peels), eugenol (also found in cinnamon), and thujene are all found in parsley and are all cancer-fighting nutrients that can can help crush the negative effects of fried foods.

Half a cup of parsley (30 grams) has about 550% of the recommended dose of vitamin K1.

Parsley based products

Parsley cannot grow in very cold weather and may not be available all the time. It also requires some preparation, including removing the stems and any other damaged or yellow leaves, rinsing, and chopping.

You want to rinse the parsley first, chop it, then eat it right away. The fresher it is, the more benefits you will receive from it.

Other than fresh parsley, there are many parsley products that you can find in the market. Here are a few.

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  • Organic parsley tea leafs. You may not be able to find parsley all year long, and you may not want to clean up all the mess that comes with separating, rinsing, and preparing fresh parsley.

If this applies to you, then a good tasting organic parsley tea made with parsley leafs may work best. Parsley tea comes with a lot of the detox benefits found in parsley.

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  • Parsley supplements. A good way to gain the benefits of parsley is to find them in parsley supplements. These are sometimes referred to as parsley capsules or parsley tablets.
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  • Parsley flakes (dried parsley). This is a dried version of parsley. It will still have great benefits when added to salads and to foods.

Look for organic parsley leaf flakes or what is sometimes referred to as bulk parsley flakes in common brands. Parsley flakes will not “spice” up your food, per se, but will provide some benefits nonetheless. Although fresh parsley is always best, it can not always be found all year round, and this is when you want to choose parsley flakes over fresh ones.

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  • Parsley cleaner. Because parsley is a cleansing agent, you can find it in earth-friendly cleaning form, made from non other than the parsley herb.

One such product is an earth friendly cleaner made with parsley.  These products will decrease, deodorize, and clean with the natural power of parsley. They are usually safe on any surface that can handle water. These fairly inexpensive types of products are very popular among people who don’t want any toxicity in the cleaning products they use.

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  • Parsley extract. There are many ways to benefit from parsley liquid extract tincture. Follow the instructions and add a few drops of parsley extract in liquids and consume it.

Some products may be labeled as ‘parsley essential oil’, while others may be listed under the ‘parsley tincture’ or ‘parsley seed essential oil’. All of these products use parsley extract either from the juice of the green leaves, the stems, or from the seeds themselves.

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  • Parsley seeds. Growing parsley is fun! It will be easy to grow parsley because parsley roots spread fast. Why not grow your own parsley seeds? All they need is a bit of water and off they grow.

How to grow parsley: Parsley seeds are slow starters, so it is important to grow them 3 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost. Seeds will take up to 3 weeks to germinate. You want to place the small seeds between 1/4″ to 1/2″ deep into the surface (which can be a flatbed). Place about 3 seeds per 1″ of soil in single rows.

How to harvest parsley: Simply cut the desired parsley from the stem with scissors or a knife.

How to make parsley tea

Parsley energy tea with fresh parsley leaves

  1. Use either flat leaves or curly leaves.
  2. Rinse the parsley in cold water before using it.
  3. Chop the parsley once to let release some of the nutrients from the leaves. you can also leave it whole if you prefer.
  4. Place the fresh parsley in a small teapot or in a mug.
  5. Pour a cup of boiled water on top.
  6. Cover and let steep for 3-5 minutes.
  7. Stir the parsley in the water.
  8. Strain the leaves and discard them.
  9. Add some stevia sweetener if you prefer.

Parsley energy tea with dried parsley leafsParsley tea health benefits

  1. Place 2 tablespoons of dried parsley in a small teapot or in a mug.
  2. Pour a cup of boiled water on top.
  3. Cover and let steep for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Stir the parsley in the water.
  5. Strain the leaves and discard them.
  6. Add some stevia sweetener if you prefer.

Parsley energy tea with fresh parsley stems or roots

  1. Place the fresh parsley roots in a small teapot or in a mug.
  2. Pour a cup of boiled water on top.
  3. Cover and let steep for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Stir the parsley in the water.
  5. Strain the stems and discard them.
  6. Add some stevia sweetener if you prefer.

15 Parsley health benefits for detoxing and vitality

These are the top 10 here, but we also discuss all 15 below.

Parsley benefits pin

Parsley is best consumed by healthy individuals who are not pregnant or nursing, or who don’t suffer from any chronic illnesses, such as kidney disease.

Parsley has great health benefits. Here are a few.

(1) May lower the risk of colon cancer

Parsley has an abundance of a bioflavonoid compound called apigenin. This compound is known to help cells recycle waste.

Studies show that apigenin has great benefits as it can be effective against many cancer types including breast cancer and colon cancer. It can also guard against certain hematological malignancies and inflammations while aiding the functions of the digestive tract, skin, and prostate.

(2) Enhances the immune system

Because parsley has an abundance of vitamins such as vitamins K, B, A, and C, it helps improve the immune system and fight illnesses.

Eating fresh parsley could be more effective in improving the immune system than eating some of the citrus fruits because parsley contains a high amount of vitamin C.

(3) May help with cracked or chapped lips

Vitamin deficiency can cause dehydration, cracked, chapped, or dry lips. Sometimes medication, cigarette smoking, cosmetic allergies and other sun related heat can also cause dehydration and chapped lips.

When available in a lip balm mix of herbs, parsley can be very helpful in reducing discomfort and in restoring the function of the lip. When not available, adding parsley to your salad mix can help fight vitamin deficiencies and restore vitality to the lips.

(4) May reduce inflammation and swelling

Parsley has a volatile oil called eugenol which helps reduce the pain and swelling associated with arthritis.

This substance has very strong anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve discomfort in arthritic patients and in patients who suffer from other inflammatory conditions.

READ MORE: Foods To Avoid With Arthritis (Bad Foods For Arthritis)

(5) May help lower diabetes

Scientists in the region of Turkey have experimented on rats and parsley. They reported that parsley reduces blood glucose in noticeable numbers.

(6) May help with blood vessels disorders

Parsley is known to be beneficial to blood circulation as it helps in the vasodilation process, which is the widening of blood vessels.

This means that parsley helps open up the blood passageways throughout the body.

(7) May help with the menstrual cycle

Menstrual cycles in women can cause discomfort. Parsley can act an emmenagogue, which is a compound that can induce and start the menstrual cycle.

This allows the period to kick in and the pressure discomfort to lessen.

(8) May help with asthma

Parsley can soothe the throat, especially when used as herbal tea.

Asthmatic patients can benefit from this because parsley becomes an expectorant, meaning that it can assist in releasing coughs and trapped mucus, allowing the airways to breathe better.

(9) Helps with insect bites

Parsley can act as a poison neutralizer.

Crush a few parsley leaves and apply them directly to insect bites and the pain may reduce and stop as the effects of parsley work at neutralizing the poison.

(10) Helps alleviate bruising

Parsley has a tendency of decreasing pain and lessening bruising irritations.

If you have a bruise, rinse and crush some parsley leaves, then apply them on the bruise. Apply a bandage for cover. The healing and compounds in parsley will start working right away and it may take the bruise less time to heal than without parsley.

(11) Helps reduce Urinary Tract Infection (UTIs)

Parsley has been considered as medicine for a long time. It continues to be used for the treatment of a wide variety of health issues, including bladder and kidney functions.

Parsley is so effective in treating bladder issues that a German Scientific Advisory Board known as Commission E encourages the use of parsley as a way to flush out the urinary tract, as reported in the Botanical Medicines For The Urinary Tract. This makes parsley and cranberry the two most potent and natural ways to treat bladder infections.

(12) May help reduce kidney stones

Parsley has a diuretic effect that may allows the kidneys to flush or dissolve small stones found inside them.

This is effective ONLY when used by healthy individuals. In this case, parsley can help improve the kidney parameters, but it’s not recommended for people with kidney disease.

(13) May help the liver

Parsley helps repel necessary fluids from the body without depleting it of potassium.

Warning. If you have a liver disease it would be crucial to consult with your physician before consuming large amounts of parsley as this potent herb can create added issues for you and for your troubled liver.

(14) May help with atherosclerosis

Parsley can help the blood vessels and keep the arterial walls healthy. This is why parsley is considered to be effective in the treatment of arteriosclerosis.

Parsley contains substances that maintain the human system blood vessels, particularly the arteries.

(15) Reduces coughing

When used as tea, parsley can be a natural antihistamine that fights hay fever, coughs, allergies, and other respiratory conditions.

How to store parsley & how long can it last?

How to store parsley

Although you can simply place the parsley or cilantro in the fridge until you need them, they are sensitive to dehydration and they work just like a fresh bouquet of flowers.

Parsley may need hydration to continue being vibrant. You keep the moisture locked in as much as possible by either covering the leaves with a loose bag, or with a paper towel.

I find that storing parsley in a cup of water, and occasionally hydrating it keeps it fresh for 1-2 weeks. Once the parsley dries out it loses its luster and fresh taste.

How to keep parsley or cilantro fresh?

  • Take the parsley out of your shopping bag and either clean it first, then place it in a half a cup of water, or simply place it there then rinse it and prepare it when it’s ready to be chopped and tossed in a salad.
  • This will allow the stems to hydrate, thus prolonging the life of the parsley.
  • The faster you consume the parsley, the better it is.

How to freeze parsley or cilantro?

  • Chop the parsley or cilantro without stems then place it in freezer bags.
  • Flatten and seal the bag.
  • Use a portion of the frozen herb whenever you want to add it to a stew or to cooked meals. It can last 4-6 months max in the freezer.

Parsley side effects and interactions (who should avoid it?)

Although parsley has negligible side effects, there are a few people who should avoid eating parsley.

Tabbouleh salad with its green fresh parsley leaves may have great health benefits on most people, but it could create some side effects for others due to its potency and composition.

Here are the people who should limit if not avoid all together the consumption of parsley.

1. Pregnant and nursing mothers. Consuming a bit of parsley is OK, but an excessive amount of parsley consumption may be unsafe during pregnancy.

This is because parsley has an effect on inducing the menstrual cycle.

In addition, some women reported birth defects complications when they took a the traditional Chinese herbal An-Tai-Yin supplement (herbal compound containing Tang-Kuei and parsley).

So, it is best to avoid this Chinese pill form supplement when pregnant.

Large amounts of parsley can also dry up a mother’s milk.This is why it is important to limit parsley consumption if you’re nursing.

2. People with kidney issues. Do not consume parsley if you suffer from kidney inflammation or disease. For people with kidney disease, parsley can hurt or limit the absorption of other foods, so it is best to avoid it.

What about dogs and parsley? Often times people ask “can dogs eat parsley?” The answer is yes, as long as they have no kidney disease and as long as parsley is given in moderate amount. It is best to avoid feeding parsley to a dog with kidney disease.

3. People with high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you may want to limit your consumption of parsley.

This is because there is a concern that parsley can make the body hold on to sodium while raising water retention.

4. People with bleeding disorders, or on Warfarin (Coumadin). Taking parsley will increase blood clotting, so it is best to avoid it if you have any bleeding disorders.

Warfarin (Coumadin) can interact negatively with parsley. While parsley might increase blood clotting, the medicine might decrease it, thus clashing with the effects of parsley. This makes the drug less effective.

5. People with diabetes and on diabetes medication. It is important to to watch for signs of hypoglycemia, or lower blood sugar levels, in diabetic patients.

It is equally important for diabetic patients to monitor blood sugar carefully when consuming parsley.

6. People who are about to undergo or just had surgery. The consumption of parsley could interfere with blood sugar levels before and after any surgery.

It is important to stop consuming any form of parsley 2 weeks before or after any surgical procedure.

7. People on water pills (Diuretic Drugs). A water pill causes the body to lose water and we don’t want to add to that by consuming parsley that may also help the body lose water.

This is why it’s important to eliminate the consumption of parsley when Diuretic drugs are prescribed.

The bottom line on parsley consumption

Although there are a few people who should avoid parsley, this amazing dark green herb could be healing and detoxing.

Parsley can help alleviate chronic inflammation in the body.

Inflammation is dangerous and can be the root cause of so many chronic health problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.

In summary, parsley can be a great addition to your nutritional regimen especially if you’re trying to eat healthy and avoid inflammatory foods. Eating parsley can prevent oxidative stress in the body as well as increase the effectiveness and benefits of other antioxidants.

Be well.

READ MORE: 23 Perfect Stress Relief Gifts For Stressed Out People