Parsley belongs to the celery and carrot family and was held such high esteem to the ancient Greeks, that they adorned athletic victors with it.
Parsley is very high in the green pigment chlorophyll which is a detoxifier/chelator of heavy metals, and a deodoriser, masking the odour of other foods. Chewing on parsley after a pungent dish such as with garlic helps to freshen breath. It is also rich in the Vitamin A rich, yellow, carotene pigments such as zeathanthin is necessary for macular health in the eye.
Parsley is an excellent source of Vit A, K and C. It also contains Vit B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Folic acid, Iron, Potassium, Zinc, Manganese, Magnesium and Calcium! The combination of high Vit C and Iron makes parsley an excellent source of non-haem iron for vegetarians, given Vit C increases the uptake of iron in the body.
Parsley is excellent for detoxification due to its very high antioxidant vitamins, flavonoids and pigments. The flavonoid luteolin has anticancer properties and is an important antioxidant for the blood, and the volatile oil myristicin facilitates glutathione function, our most important antioxidant in the liver.
Parsley’s high levels of Vit K and Folic acid mean its excellent for cardiovascular heath with Vit K effects on blood clotting and folic acid's important role in reducing homocysteine levels.
Parsley growing and storage
Anyone who has grown flat leaf (or Italian) parsley knows that after one successful crop, you will have it forever. When parsley goes to seed, it grows massive flower like seed heads that contain hundreds and hundreds of seeds. If left to dry and drop naturally, they will re-seed themselves and grow more plants next time all by themselves very easily. Parsley tends to have two seasons a year, however if you plant about crops about 2-3 months apart, you will have parsley all year around.
Parsley is quite robust when it comes to washing and storage. You don’t need to handle it as gently as basil, coriander and mint. You can store it on the stems, or pick off the leaves and tender stems from the woodier stems. Wash, shake off excess water or put through a salad spinner. Air dry and store in a tea towel lined container in the fridge. Parsley has lasted up to two weeks in my fridge this way when harvested fresh. If it’s going limp, or leaves are turning yellow, it’s time to throw it out.