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Learn about parsley, including fresh parsley types and parsley nutrition

Parsley is a Mediterranean plant commonly used in cooking. Studies show that this plant also offers many health benefits


What is parsley and where is parsley from? Parsley is a type of flowering plant from the family of Apiaceae. It is native to central Mediterranean countries including Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. The parsley definition as stated by the Oxford English Dictionary classifies it as a “biennial plant with white flowers and aromatic leaves which are either crinkly or flat and are used as a culinary herb and for garnishing food.”1 However, parsley is more than just a garnish. Research and studies conducted in laboratories all over the world have proven that parsley is in fact a very versatile plant.

Fresh Parsley Types

What does parsley look like, exactly? A parsley plant is bright green and has a long stem with curly or flat leaves protruding out at the top of it.

There are two types of parsley: curly parsley and flat-leaf parsley. Both curly and flat leaf parsley taste very similar, but a chef with keen taste buds can notice the subtle differences in their flavors.

Curly Parsley

Curly leaf parsley is typically used as a garnish. These parsley flakes are often sprinkled on potato, chicken and fish dishes, and generally preferred over flat leaf parsley in most home kitchens.

Flat Leaf Parsley

What is flat leaf parsley? Flat leaf parsley, also known as Italian parsley, is more flavorful than curly leaf parsley. It has flat, crisped leaves and can also be used to add flavor to sauces, soups and stews.

Benefits of Parsley

The top benefits of parsley include:

  1. Diabetes Prevention
  2. Cancer Prevention
  3. Improved Bone Health
  4. Promote Menstruation
  5. Improve Allergies
  6. Support Renal Health
  7. Improve Symptoms of Bloat and Indigestion
  8. Freshen Breath
  9. Cognitive Support
  10. Rich in Vitamin A
  11. Full of Vitamin C
  12. Support Heart Health

Is parsley good for you? In addition to enhancing the flavor of a dish, parsley health benefits are extensive, and range from preventative care to treatment of many conditions.

So, what is parsley good for, exactly? Read on to find out more about the health benefits of parsley.

1. Parsley for Diabetes Prevention

Parsley contains myricetin, which is an antioxidant found in fruits, vegetables and other foods. Studies show that myricetin decreases insulin resistance.2 Myricetin has also shown to lower blood sugar levels, and acts as an anti-inflammatory which can remove fat from blood.3

2. Parsley for Cancer Prevention

Myricetin can also protect the immune system from cancer-causing agents because it contains flavonoid antioxidants which can fight off diseases.3 It also has chemical compounds which can block the effects of heterocyclic amines, which can cause cancer.4

3. Improve Bone Health with Parsley

Parsley is rich in vitamin K, which can help improve bone health. Studies show that a diet low in vitamin K can put you at higher risk of bone fractures.5 Combined with the other nutrients in parsley, the vitamin K found in this plant may help maintain and protect your bones.

4. Parsley for Promoting Menstruation

Parsley has been traditionally used as an emmenagogue in Ayurveda to stimulate or increase menstrual blood flow.6 However, due to its effects on menstruation and hormones, pregnant women should use caution when using concentrated parsley; abortion using parsley has not been confirmed, but there may be some associated risks.20

5. Parsley to Improve Allergy Symptoms

One of the benefits of eating parsley is preventing and treating allergy symptoms. Parsley contains the flavonoids luteolin and apigenin, which prevent histamine secretion. Early studies have shown that oral intake of these flavonoids can effectively treat and prevent allergy symptoms.7

6. Promote Renal Health with Parsley

Studies performed on rats show that because of its antioxidant effect, parsley can improve kidney health and kidney function.8 Its anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties also make it an effective treatment for bladder infections, and it been listed as a preventive measure and effective treatment of kidney stones by the German Commission E.8, 9

7. Reduce Bloating and Improves Digestion by Eating Parsley

Parsley is high in fiber, making it useful as a digestive aid. Parsley can also help relieve bloating caused by water retention and flatulence and assists with faster elimination of waste.8

Parsley is often confused with cilantro because the two plants look very similar. However, their taste is distinctive, and they can be told apart by smell.

Parsley also has a carminative effect, which prevents gas from forming or assists with the expulsion of gas.9 Studies in animal laboratories show that parsley has a diuretic effect which can help with water retention and bloating, as it can increase the amount of urine we produce.10

8. Parsley for Fresh Breath

Parsley contains chlorophyll, which has deodorizing and antibacterial properties which can eliminate bad breath.9

Recently, a 2014 study by the Journal of Food Science found that parsley can help eliminate or reduce “garlic breath” through enzymatic deodorization.11

9. Parsley May Reduce Cognitive Aging and Memory Loss

Parsley contains luteolin, which can reduce inflammation in the brain. Inflammation in the brain is the main cause of neurodegeneration, and studies conducted on mice have shown that luteolin results in lower rates of memory loss in aging mice.12

10. Parsley is Rich in Vitamin A

Parsley is rich in Vitamin A, an essential vitamin important for your immune system, and healthy eyes and skin.13 Though rare in developed countries, vitamin A deficiency can cause damage to the cornea, resulting in poor vision.14  Vitamin A promotes healthy skin, and studies show it can help prevent your skin from aging and reduce the risk of melanoma.15

11. Parsley is Rich in Vitamin C

Parsley has high levels of vitamin C, which strengthens your immune system, prevents eye disease, and even helps prevent skin from wrinkling. Vitamin C can also help prevent cardiovascular disease, prevent scurvy, and overall increases and improves the strength of your immune system.16

12. Parsley may Improve Heart Health

Parsley also has folate, which is a type of B-vitamin. Folic acid lowers levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood which can increase risk for heart disease and blood clots.17

Parsley Nutrition

Parsley is quite nutrient dense, and contains a variety of vitamins and minerals.

The vitamins in parsley are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B6

Other nutrients in parsley include:

  • Calcium
  • Folate
  • Zinc
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Fiber
  • Manganese

Parsley Vs. Cilantro

Although the two are very similar, it’s easy to tell the difference between parsley and cilantro. Parsley generally has leaves which are pointier, while cilantro has curved, rounded leaves. Cilantro also tends to have a much stronger scent than flat leaf parsley, which is milder.

In cooking, most parts of both plants are used, including both cilantro and parsley root. However, cilantro seeds are also used, whereas parsley seeds are not.

Benefits of parsley, including parsley vs cilantro, and what to do with parsley

What to do with Parsley: 7 Uses

There are all sorts of things you can do and make with parsley, including:

Parsley can be frozen in cubes of olive oil to help keep it fresh and make it easy to use in your next meal.
  • Making parsley tea
  • Making Tabouli (parsley salad)
  • Juicing parsley
  • Decorating dishes
  • Adding to sauce or dressings
  • Adding it to different recipes like: pasta, poultry, potatoes, etc
  • Freshen your breath

Parsley Tea

If you’re wondering how to make parsley tea, follow these steps.

  1. Strip parsley leaves off the stems and chop.
  2. Put the leaves in a mug or a teapot and pour boiling water into the mug, stirring quickly.
  3. Remove leaves from the tea after 5 minutes (longer if you want the parley flavor to be longer).
  4. Enjoy hot, or cool in the fridge and enjoy as refreshing parsley water

Parsley tea benefits include its phenolic compounds, which encourage free-radical scavenging activities.18

How to Store Parsley

For short term storage, place parsley sprigs in a glass of water and use a plastic bag to loosely cover.

Drying or freezing parsley is good for longer term storage. There are various methods for how to dry parsley, including food dehydrators, solar drying (putting it in direct sunlight), or putting it in the oven or microwave. Dried parsley is then easy to store in air-tight containers.

How to freeze parsley will depend on how you want to use it later. You can place it in a freezer bag and roll up tightly until ready to use, or you can use an ice cube tray to freeze the leaves in olive oil, making it easy to throw in a pan and start cooking with right away.

How to chop Parsley

If you’re wondering how to cut parsley without bruising it, the trick is to avoid overcutting. Bunch the leaves together in a pile and use a smooth motion to slice through in fine lines. Cutting parsley in this fashion should make the leaves fine enough to use in any dish.

Scientific Research Referenced in this Article

  1. parsley | Definition of parsley in English by Oxford Dictionaries – View Reference
  2. Choi, H.-N., Kang, M.-J., Lee, S.-J., & Kim, J.-I. (2014). Ameliorative effect of myricetin on insulin resistance in mice fed a high-fat, high-sucrose diet. Nutrition Research and Practice, 8(5), 544–549. Retrieved on December 7, 2017 from http://doi.org/10.4162/nrp.2014.8.5.544.
  3. Labbé, D., Provençal, M., Lamy, S., Boivin, D., Gingras, D., & Béliveau, R. (2009). The flavonols quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin inhibit hepatocyte growth factor-induced medulloblastoma cell migration. The Journal of nutrition, 139(4), 646-652. Retrieved December 15, 2017 from http://jn.nutrition.org/content/139/4/646.long
  4. Haza, A. I., Coto, A. L., & Morales, P. (2011, June). Comparison of the ability of myricetin and quercetin to modulate the oxidative DNA damage induced by heterocyclic amines. In Food Nutr Sci (Vol. 2, pp. 356-65). DOI:10.4236/fns.2011.24051
  5. Hao, G., Zhang, B., Gu, M., Chen, C., Zhang, Q., Zhang, G., & Cao, X. (2017). Vitamin K intake and the risk of fractures: A meta-analysis. Medicine, 96(17), e6725. Retrieved on December 7, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5413254/
  6. Awe, E. O., & Banjoko, S. O. (2013). Biochemical and haematological assessment of toxic effects of the leaf ethanol extract of Petroselinum crispum (Mill) Nyman ex AW Hill (Parsley) in rats. BMC complementary and alternative medicine13(1), 75. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-13-75
  7. Kawai, M., Hirano, T., Higa, S., Arimitsu, J., Maruta, M., Kuwahara, Y., … & Ogata, A. (2007). Flavonoids and related compounds as anti-allergic substances. Allergology International, 56(2), 113-123. https://doi.org/10.2332/allergolint.R-06-135
  8. Rashwan, N. M. (2012). Biological Study on the Effect of Arginine Parsley and on Renal Toxicity in Rats. World Journal of Medical Sciences, 7(4), 264-269. Retrieved on December 7, 2017 from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e524/bca4d4aedbcc70759007a04a91c4affed3ac.pdf
  9. Handbook of herbs and spices. Volume 2 (pp. 239) K.V Peter – Woodhead – 2004.
  10. Kreydiyyeh, S. I., & Usta, J. (2002). Diuretic effect and mechanism of action of parsley. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 79, 353-357. Retrieved on December 7, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11849841
  11. Munch, R., & Barringer, S. A. (2014). Deodorization of garlic breath volatiles by food and food components. Journal of food science, 79(4). Retrieved on December 7, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24592995
  12. Jang, S., Dilger, R. N., & Johnson, R. W. (2010). Luteolin inhibits microglia and alters hippocampal-dependent spatial working memory in aged mice. The Journal of nutrition, 140(10), 1892-1898. Retrieved on December 7, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20685893
  13. STEPHENSEN, C. B. (2001). Vitamin A, infection, and immune function. Annual review of nutrition, 21, 167-192. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.nutr.21.1.167
  14. Starck, T. (1997). Severe Corneal Ulcerations and Vitamin A Deficiency. In Advances in Corneal Research (pp. 557-567). Springer, Boston, MA. Retrieved December 15, 2017 from https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4615-5389-2_46
  15. Russo, I., Caroppo, F., & Alaibac, M. (2015). Vitamins and Melanoma. Cancers, 7(3), 1371-1387. Retrieved on December 8, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4586774/
  16. Schnyder, G., Roffi, M., Flammer, Y., Pin, R., & Hess, O. M. (2002). Effect of homocysteine-lowering therapy with folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 on clinical outcome after percutaneous coronary intervention: the Swiss Heart study: a randomized controlled trial. Jama, 288(8), 973-979. doi:10.1001/jama.288.8.973
  17. Ciganda, C., & Laborde, A. (2003). Herbal infusions used for induced abortion. Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology41(3), 235-239. https://doi.org/10.1081/CLT-120021104
  18. Albayrak, S., Aksoy, A., Sagdic, O., & Albayrak, S. (2012). Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of different extracts of some medicinal herbs consumed as tea and spices in Turkey. Journal of Food Biochemistry36(5), 547-554. DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-4514.2011.00568.x