Parsley, or Petroselinum crispum, is an annual, culinary herb in the same family as carrots, or Apiaceae. Originally native to the Mediterranean area, parsley is harvested across the globe. Parsley plants bear small flowers, ribbed seeds and either flat or curly leaves, and any of these components can be pressed into oil. Although many people think of parsley as a simple plate garnish, this herb also contains various hidden health benefits.
Nutritionist and dietician Deborah A. Klein reports that 1/2 cup of fresh parsley contains 40 mg of vitamin C. Your body needs this vitamin to repair and grow new body tissue, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC. Your body also requires vitamin C to produce collagen, a protein responsible for making scar tissue, blood vessels, skin cells and tendons. Vitamin C promotes wound healing, as well as teeth, bone and cartilage health. This vitamin contains antioxidant properties, which means that it can help prevent the damaging effects of free radicals. The UMMC recommends that adult females receive 75 mg of vitamin C a day, while adult males should consume 90 mg daily. The human body cannot make vitamin C, so a serving of parsley can help you meet your daily dosage.
Parsley also contains healthy levels of vitamin A. Medline Plus reports that your body needs vitamin A to help produce and maintain the health of your skin, bones and soft tissue. This vitamin is sometimes called retinol because it manufactures pigments in the retina of your eye and can help you see better in dim lighting. Medline Plus recommends that adult females consume 700 mcg of vitamin a every day, while adult males need 900 mcg daily. Eating fresh parsley can be one way to get your daily dosage of vitamin A through natural sources instead of supplements.
The UMMC reports that your red blood cells need iron in order to efficiently transport oxygen to all of your body's cells. Having insufficient levels of iron in your body can cause iron deficiency anemia, a condition characterized by severe fatigue and weakness. The UMMC suggests that adult males take 8 mg of iron every day, while adult females need 19 mg of iron daily. According to Deborah Klein, eating 1/2 cup of fresh parsley provides you with 1.86 mg of iron.
DIURETIC AND LAXATIVE PROPERTIES
Drugs.com reports that two active ingredients in parsley, myristicin and apiol, contain mild diuretic properties. According to Drugs.com, consuming parsley seed extract makes lab animals urinate in greater volume, but human studies are still needed. Herbalists have long used parsley as a mild laxative. According to S.I. Kreydiyyeh's article in "Phytomedicine," research indicates that parsley contains a laxative effect because it inhibits sodium and water absorption. Consult your doctor before using parsley to treat water retention or constipation.
Eating parsley after a meal is an easy way to freshen your breath and cleanse your palate. Drugs.com notes that traditional folk healers use parsley seed to alleviate the pain associated with colic and flatulence. Deborah Klein reports that the volatile oils found in parsley might help to improve both your mood and your cognitive abilities. Consuming fresh parsley might also help reduce inflammation if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.