You may see parsley mostly as a garnish or as a seasoning for soups, salads and entrees, but it's nutritious as well. This vibrant green herb is a member of the carrot family and lends a bright flavor to food. You'll commonly see curly parsley or flat leaf, also known as Italian, parsley varieties available in grocery stores. In addition to cooking with this herb, you can add it to fruit smoothies or your juicer when making fresh juice for added nutrition.
Low in Calories, Fat and Sodium
Parsley is a very low-calorie food providing only 3 calories per 2 tablespoons of the herb. It's a useful herb for seasoning meals when you're watching your weight because adding parsley won't increase the calorie count significantly. It's also a fat-free food and very low in sodium, which means it lends itself well to heart-healthy cholesterol and blood pressure control diets. Even though it's low in calories, fat and sodium, parsley doesn't lack flavor.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Parsley provides varying amounts of many vitamins and minerals. The high content of vitamin K helps to maintain proper blood clotting in your body and also plays a role in maintaining strong bones. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, just 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley gives you 125 micrograms of vitamin K. Men need at least 120 micrograms per day while women need at least 90. Eating parsley as part of a healthy diet also helps you meet your daily needs for vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, iron and potassium.
Provides Antioxidants for Good Eyesight
Another reason parsley is good for you is that it contains the beneficial antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds are types of carotenoids -- they're particularly beneficial for maintaining good eyesight. According to the American Optometric Association, your eyes contain the highest density of both these antioxidants in your body. They help to protect the retina of your eye from harmful wavelengths of light, which may reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration. Both antioxidants also play a part in keeping the retina of your eye clear helping to reduce the onset of cataracts.
Kidney and Urinary Tract Health
According to New York University Langone Medical Center, parsley may help to relieve urinary tract irritations, such as bladder infections. The herb may also help to ease in the passing of kidney stones. These benefits likely come from the mild diuretic effect parsley produces. This means it increases the excretion of fluid in urine, which may help to cleanse the body of kidney stones and infections in the urinary tract. However, no scientific studies exist that support the safety and efficacy of using parsley for treating these conditions.