You may overlook parsley as a healthy vegetable because you likely consider it a a garnish rather than a nutrient-dense food. According to Michael T. Murray, Joseph Pizzorno and Lara Pizzorno, authors of "The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods," people have been eating parsley as a vegetable for more than 2,500 years, and have used it for medicinal purposes for even longer. Both dried and fresh parsley have a valuable place in your diet, although they contain different nutrients.
Eating more parsley may help you consume more fiber. According to Michael T. Murray, Joseph Pizzorno and Lara Pizzorno, authors of "The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods," parsley is a good source of dietary fiber that is also low in calories and rich in many different nutrients. You will get more fiber benefits from fresh parsley because you can eat more of it at a time than dried parsley, which has a much stronger taste. Including 1 cup of fresh parsley in a tossed salad will add 2 g of fiber. You will get 0.4 g of fiber from 1 tablespoon of dried parsley. Getting more fiber may reduce bowel problems like constipation, and may also lower your risk of heart disease and colon cancer.
Another nutrient present in high doses in parsley is vitamin C. Both fresh and dried parsley contain a healthy dose of this important vitamin. Getting sufficient amounts of vitamin C from your food may help treat and control infections. Vitamin C is also essential for the health of your bones, muscles and blood vessels. A 1-tablespoon serving of fresh parsley contains 5.1 mg of vitamin C, while 1 tablespoon of dried parsley has 2 mg.
Vitamin A is another nutrient in parsley, both fresh and dried. Fresh parsley contains more vitamin A per 1-tablespoon serving, with 320 IU. The same serving of dried parsley contains just 31 IU. Vitamin A is most often associated with eyesight, but it also supports the health of your white blood cells and the production of all other cells in your body.
Both fresh and dried parsley contain small amounts of many more vitamins and minerals. A 1-tablespoon serving of fresh parsley has 5 mg of calcium, and the same serving of dried has 18 mg. Calcium is important for bones and teeth. Fresh parsley also contains 21 mg of potassium, 6 mcg of folate and 62.3 mg of vitamin K in just 1 tablespoon. The same amount of dried parsley contains 43 mg of potassium, 3 mcg of folate and 21.8 mg of vitamin K. You need potassium for muscle and heart health and vitamin K for proper clotting of your blood. Folate may help reduce birth defect risks, if you are pregnant.
- USDA Nutrient Database; Nutrient Data Laboratory
- "The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods"; Michael T. Murray, Joseph Pizzorno and Lara Pizzorno; 2005
- Harvard School of Public Health: Vitamin C
- MayoClinic.com; Healthy Diet: End the Guesswork with These Nutrition Guidelines; February 2011
- Harvard School of Public Health; Vitamins
- American Heart Association; Potassium; May 2010