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Popularly known as parsley, Petroselinum crispum comes from the family of Apiaceae or Umelliferae. The word ‘parsley’ is also derived from a Greek word which means ‘rock celery’ and signifies its link to celery. Being a biennial vegetable, the nutritive richness of parsley is available around the year for us.

Parsley has been a part of world cuisine for centuries and is used as a herb, vegetable and spice for medicinal and culinary uses. While being low in lipid content, parsley owes its nutritive richness to various micro nutrients. The vegetable is a reservoir of proteins, vitamin A, vitamin B-6, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium and iron, as stated by the United States Department of Agricultural Research Service (USDA). [1] Moreover, the color pigments known as flavonoids present in parsley also provide many other health benefits. These flavonoids particularly exhibit potent antioxidant activity which in turn is a plausible indicator of a good health.

Parsley as a Rich Source of Vitamins and Minerals:

Parley is a healthy vegetable to include in your dietary routine because it is packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining good visual health, cellular proliferation and growth, and improving immunity. Vitamin B6 is particularly good for lowering homocysteine levels which is a plausible indicator of improved cardiovascular health. It also helps in reducing the risk of strokes and impaired cognitive function. Being rich in vitamin C makes parsley a good dietary choice for improving the immune system and increasing collagen synthesis to maintain health skin, muscles and bones. Furthermore, vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties which help in preventing inflammatory health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. In addition to this, the presence of vitamin K and calcium facilitate in maintaining optimal bone density and reduce risks of bone fragility conditions such as osteoporosis. The phosphorus in parsley helps in improving tissue growth and repair-regulated use of energy reserves in the body, renal system, and development of teeth. Potassium helps in improving digestion, heart health and skeletal system function. Sodium helps in balancing ion concentration in body fluids which influence several functions of the body including improving cardiac health and regulating blood glucose metabolism. Magnesium plays a vital role in strengthening bones, improving the functioning of the immune system, regulating heart rate, keeping blood glucose levels in optimal range and balancing mineral utilization. Unsurprisingly, iron helps in fighting anemia, circulating oxygen-rich blood in the body and also protecting the body from infections.

The Role of Parsley in Cancer Prevention:

The Anti-carcinogenic activity of parsley is strongly associated with the abundance of antioxidants in the vegetable. In a review paper published by the International Journal of Oncology, the cancer preventive properties of a flavonoid known as apigenin were signified.[2] In addition to the anti-carcinogenic activities of apigenin, it also carries anti-inflammatory properties which prevent various inflammatory responses and conditions in the body. [3]Talking of the anti-carcinogenic activity of this pigment present in parsley, research has found that these cancer preventing advantages govern through various mechanisms which induce tumor cell apoptosis, cycle-cell arrest of cancer cancers, reduce oxidative stress that trigger certain cancer types, inhibit tumor cell proliferation by altering cellular signaling pathways, activate detoxifying enzymes in the body and trigger the immune system to kill tumor cells. In different cancer types, different mechanisms come at work and target specific cell signaling pathways to reduce cancer risks or to inhibit cancer progression to advance stages. Evidence has shown that apigenin helps reduce the risk rate of colon, prostate, breast, cervical, ovarian, lung and skin cancer.

In this regard, another flavonoid found in parsley known as myricetin also exhibits cancer preventive properties. Furthermore, being green in color, parsley has abundant quantities of chlorophyll which also facilitate in nullifying the detrimental health effects of carcinogenic substances entering the body.

The Role of Parsley In Diabetes Prevention:

Experts suggest that parsley exhibits excellent anti-diabetic activity which is also associated with preventing cellular damage caused by free reactive radicals in the body. In a study published in the journal of Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, experts observed the diabetes reversing activity of parsley in rats which were induced with diabetes. [4]

The study analyzed that diabetes mellitus has a strong association with glutathione levels and lipid peroxidation in the blood stream. Glutathione is a compound present in the body which acts as an antioxidant, helping the cells and tissues recover from the damage caused by free radicals. As the glutathione levels dip, several health conditions can arise as the free radical counteracting mechanism diminishes. Diabetes mellitus is one of the health conditions which can result from low glutathione levels. Simultaneously, the detrimental oxidation of lipids release lipid peroxidation which is acts as a biomarker for diabetes. In a study published in Antioxidants and Redox Signaling, it was indicated that increased levels of lipid peroxidation in the human body leads to altering signaling pathways which impair insulin secretion and cause insulin resistance. [5]

The study under discussion observed that when parsley was given to those with diabetes, the parsley reversed the effects of diabetes by improving glutathione levels and lowering tissue lipid peroxidation, signifying how eating parsley is advantageous for managing diabetes.

The Role of Parsley and the Kidneys:

Parsley has long been known for its diuretic properties. As the vegetable is enriched with vitamins and anti-inflammatory properties, consumption of parsley helps treat water retention, kidney stones and infections of the urinary tract. According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, rats were fed with parsley seed extracts and the resulting volume of urine excretion over a period of 24 hours was measured. [6] Upon further investigation, it was found that consuming parsley led to lowering the activity of sodium potassium (NA+-K+) ATPase in the medulla and cortex of the brain which cause reduced NA+ and K+ reabsorption in the renal system which consequently regulate the osmotic flow of water and increase urine excretion. Thereby, consuming parsley helps in improving renal health, reducing risk edema and water retention in body.

Undoubtedly, parsley is filled with nature’s wellness and has several hidden health benefits. Ensure to eat organic parsley regularly.

References:

  1. Food Composition Databases Show Foods — Parsley, fresh. (2017). nal.usda.gov. Retrieved 16 March 2017, from https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/
  2. Patel, D., Shukla, S., & Gupta, S. (2007). Apigenin and cancer chemoprevention: Progress, potential and promise (Review). International Journal Of Oncology. http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/ijo.30.1.233
  3. Lall, R. & Syed, D. (2017). Dietary Polyphenols in Prevention and Treatment of Prostate Cancer. Retrieved 16 March 2017, from http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/16/2/3350
  4. Sener, G., Saçan, Ö., Yanardag, R. et al. Plant Foods Hum Nutr (2003) 58: 1. doi:10.1023/B:QUAL.0000041152.24423.bb
  5. Giovanni Davì, Angela Falco, and Carlo Patrono. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. December 2004, 7(1-2): 256-268. doi:10.1089/ars.2005.7.256.
  6. Kreydiyyeh, S. & Usta, J. (2017). Diuretic effect and mechanism of action of parsley. Retrieved 16 March 2017, fromhttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874101004081
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