Week 50: Parsley
The ancient Greeks held parsley to be sacred, using it to adorn victors of athletic contests and for decorating the tombs of the deceased.
The two most popular types of parsley are curly and Italian flat leaf. The Italian variety has a more fragrant and less bitter taste than the curly one.
Parsley is found year round in the supermarket. The leaves, seeds, oil and root of the parsley plant are used for medicinal and culinary purposes. It is known to cleanse your palate and your breath at the end of a meal.
Nutrient Profile: Parsley is an excellent source of vitamin K and vitamin C as well as a good source of vitamin A, folate, and iron. It also contains volatile oil components and flavonoids which are both health promoting.
Promotes Optimal Health: The volatile oils in parsley provide tumor formation inhibition in animal studies. In addition, they activate an enzyme that helps the molecule glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant.
Heart Health: Parsley is a good source of folic acid (an important B vitamin) which helps the body convert homocysteine into benign molecules. High levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in people with known heart disease.
Rich Source of Antixidants: The combination of vitamin A, vitamin C, the volatile oils and flavonoids all act as antioxidants in the body. They function by combining with highly reactive oxygen-containing molecules (free radicals) and therefore helps prevent oxygen-based damage.
Selection and Storage: Whenever possible, choose fresh parsley over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor. Choose fresh parsley that is deep green in color. Avoid bunches that have leaves that are wilted or yellow as this indicates that they are either over mature or damaged. If purchasing dried parsley, be sure it is organically grown to assure that the herbs have not been irradiated.
Fresh parsley should be kept in the refrigerator in a bag. If the parsley is slightly wilted, either sprinkle it lightly with some water or wash it without completely drying it before storing in the refrigerator. Fresh parsley should be washed right before using since it is highly fragile.
Italian flat leaf parsley has a stronger flavor than the curly variety and it holds up better to cooking. Therefore it is usually the type preferred for hot dishes. It should be added towards the end of the cooking process so that it can best retain its taste, color and nutritional value.
Individual Concerns: Parsley and Oxalates: Parsley is among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates (naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings). When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating parsley.
This is a very refreshing and delicious pear and parsley smoothie. Recipe courtesy of Jill Andrews.