Parsley can be used for flavorings, sauces and garnishes, not to mention a fresh salad ingredient. The plant is also considered a medicinal herb that can aid in alleviating a wide range of ailments. In addition to being an antioxidant-rich component in American cooking, it makes a healthy, though pungent, tea.
Parsley is a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as the minerals iron and sulfur. The nutrient found in the highest quantity in parsley is vitamin K, which is important for bone density and a healthy cardiovascular system. It's best to make parsley tea from fresh parsley leaves so that it retains the most nutrients.
For centuries, traditional medicine recognized parsley for its diuretic effects. In a 2002 study published in the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology," researchers administered parsley tea to rats. After 24 hours, they showed increased urine quantity. Scientists determined it was caused by qualities in the parsley that block re-absorption of sodium and potassium. This would be advantageous in the case of kidney stones, gallstones, jaundice and obesity because the diuretic action helps eliminate inappropriate water accumulations in the body.
A 1999 article published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" reported on a group of 14 study participants who consumed a diet that restricted foods containing antioxidants for a week and then consumed parsley every day for a second week. At the end of the second week, researchers found that the parsley had reduced oxidative stress markers in the participants. This indicates parsley has a healthy role in the human body as an herb rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous effects, making them important for anyone who wants to stay healthy and prevent disease.
Parsley is filled with various flavonoids, which are pigments found in plants. One flavonoid found abundantly in parsley, called apigenin, has been found to stop breast cancer cells from multiplying. A 2011 study published in "Cancer Prevention Research" administered apigenin to one group of rats and a placebo to the control group. The multiplication of cancerous cells was slower in the rats with apigenin, showing that apigenin might be able to lower the chance of breast cancer risk in women.