Parsley or garden parsley is a species of Petroselinum in the family Apiaceae, native to the central Mediterranean region, naturalized elsewhere in Europe, and widely cultivated as an herb, a spice, and a vegetable.
Where it grows as a biennial, in the first year, it forms a rosette of tripinnate leaves 10–25 cm long with numerous 1–3 cm leaflets, and a taproot used as a food store over the winter.Parsley is widely used in Middle Eastern, European, and American cooking. Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish. In central and eastern Europe and in western Asia, many dishes are served with fresh green chopped parsley sprinkled on top. Root parsley is very common in central and eastern European cuisines, where it is used as a snack or a vegetable in many soups, stews, and casseroles.
Parsley grows best in moist, well-drained soil, with full sun. It grows best between 22–30 °C, and usually is grown from seed. Germination is slow, taking four to six weeks, and it often is difficult because of furanocoumarins in its seed coat. Typically, plants grown for the leaf crop are spaced 10 cm apart, while those grown as a root crop are spaced 20 cm apart to allow for the root development.
Parsley attracts several species of wildlife. Some swallowtail butterflies use parsley as a host plant for their larvae; their caterpillars are black and green striped with yellow dots, and will feed on parsley for two weeks before turning into butterflies. Bees and other nectar-feeding insects also visit the flowers. Birds such as the goldfinch feed on the seeds.
This unique herb provides: 38% of folates, 220% of vitamin C, 281% of vitamin A, 1366% of vitamin K, 14% of calcium, 77.5% of iron and 5561 mcg of zeaxanthin. 5054 mcg of carotene-beta(Note: the values are in % of RDA per 100 g (RDA-Recommended daily allowance))
The herb contains no cholesterol; however, it is rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, which help control blood-cholesterol, prevents constipation, protects the human body from free radicals mediated injury and from cancers.
Parsley contains health benefiting essential volatile oils that include myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene.
The essential oil, Eugenol, present in this herb has been in therapeutic use in dentistry as a local anesthetic and anti-septic agent for teeth and gum diseases. Eugenol has also been found to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics; however, further detailed studies required to establish its role.
Parsley is rich in poly-phenolic flavonoid antioxidants, including apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin; and has been rated as one of the plant sources with quality antioxidant activities. Total ORAC value, which measures the anti-oxidant strength of 100 g of fresh, raw parsley, is 1301 µmol TE (Trolex equivalents).
The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. 100 g fresh herb provides 554 mg or 12% of daily-required levels of potassium. Potassium is the chief component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure by countering the effects of sodium. Iron is essential for the production of heme, which is an important oxygen-carrying component inside the red blood cells. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Additionally, the herb is also rich in many antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin-A, beta-carotene, vitamin-C, vitamin-E, zea-xanthin, lutein, and cryptoxanthin. The herb is an excellent source of vitamin-K and folates. Zea-xanthin helps prevent age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) in the retina of the eye in the old age population through its anti-oxidant and ultra-violet light filtering functions.
Fresh herb leaves are also rich in many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), niacin (vitamin B-3), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins play a vital role in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism by acting as co-enzymes inside the human body.
It is perhaps the richest of the entire herb source for vitamin K; provide 1640 µg or 1366% of recommended daily intake. Vitamin K has been found to have the potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. It has also established role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.
Wonderful! Humble parsley has just 36 calories/100 g, but their phyto-nutrients profile is no less than any high-calorie food sources.
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