Parsley is a member of the Apiaceae plant family along with carrots, parsnips, dill, fennel, cumin, and several others. Parsley is native to the central Mediterranean region and is cultivated in many other parts ofthe world. There are generally two types of parsley, curly leaf and Italian parsley (also referred to as flat leaf parsley). Both Types are cultivated and used as herbs and vegetables.
Parsley is commonly used in Middle Eastern, European, and American cooking. In central and eastern Europe and in western Asia, many dishes are served with chopped fresh parsley sprinkled on top. Chopped fresh parsley is also used as a garnish in several other parts of the world such as on potato and rice dishes, fish and meat dishes, and for vegetable stews.
Like many other herbs and vegetables, parsley is a good source of antioxidants and other nutrients. Research on the chemical compounds in parsley has shown that parsley has anti-cancer activity, it’s anti-microbial, it detoxifies and deodorizes, and it’s been used successfully to reduce blood glucose levels. There are several key nutrients in parsley including chlorophyll, carotenoids, vitamin K, and volatile oils such as myristicin. The National Cancer Institute has researched the anti-cancer potential of various plant foods, and found that parsley is among a select group of about a dozen plant foods with the highest anti-cancer activity.
Caution: Although parsley provides many health benefits, it should be consumed in moderation only. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not consume parsley in excessive amounts. Consumption of parsley has been shown to be safe for pregnant women when consumed in small quantities such as when added to meals, but consuming it in large quantities can have uterotonic effects.