Parsley is a popular herb often used in American, European, and Middle Eastern cooking.
It’s commonly used to elevate the flavor of dishes like soups, salads, and fish recipes.
Aside from its many culinary uses, parsley is highly nutritious and has been shown to have many powerful health benefits (1, 2).
This article reviews parsley and how this impressive herb may benefit your health.
Two tablespoons (8 grams) of parsley provide ():
- Calories: 2
- Vitamin A: 12% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin C: 16% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 154% of the RDI
Parsley is low in calories yet rich in important nutrients, such as vitamins A, K, and C.
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that plays a key role in your immunity and eye health. Plus, it’s important for your skin and may improve skin conditions, such as acne (, 5).
Parsley is also a great source of vitamin K, a nutrient that supports bone and heart health. In fact, just two tablespoons (8 grams) of parsley deliver more vitamin K than you need in a day.
Aside from its role in bone and heart health, vitamin K is essential for proper blood clotting, which can help prevent excessive bleeding (6, 7, ).
Additionally, parsley is packed with vitamin C, a nutrient that improves heart health and is vital to your immune system.
Vitamin C also acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting your cells from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals (, 10).
What’s more, parsley is a good source of the nutrients magnesium, potassium, folate, iron, and calcium.
Summary Parsley contains several important nutrients, such as vitamins A, K, and C. It’s also a good source of the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Aside from diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels can occur due to an unhealthy diet or a lack of exercise (11, 12).
Elevated blood sugar levels can increase your risk of health complications, such as insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of symptoms including high cholesterol and high blood sugar (13).
Animal studies suggest that antioxidants in parsley may effectively reduce high blood sugar levels (14).
For example, a study in rats with type 1 diabetes found that those given parsley extract experienced greater reductions in blood sugar levels and improvements in pancreatic function compared to a control group (15).
Along with eating a balanced diet, adding parsley to your cooking may help support healthy blood sugar levels.
That said, human studies are needed to better understand the effects of parsley on blood sugar levels.
Summary Elevated blood sugar levels can increase your risk of conditions like diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Some rat studies found parsley to effectively reduce blood sugar levels.
Heart conditions like heart attacks and strokes are the leading cause of death worldwide. An unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and high alcohol intake can all contribute to heart disease (16).
Parsley contains many plant compounds, including carotenoid antioxidants, which have been found to benefit heart health by reducing heart disease risk factors.
For instance, carotenoid-rich diets have been shown to improve heart disease risk factors like chronic inflammation, as well as elevated blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels ().
What’s more, population studies indicate that diets high in carotenoid can decrease your risk of heart conditions like coronary artery disease.
A 12-year study in 73,286 nurses found an inverse association between dietary carotenoids and the incidence of coronary artery disease (18).
Another large study in 13,293 people, who were followed for up to 18 years, observed that those with higher blood levels of carotenoids had lower rates of heart disease mortality than those with lower carotenoid levels (19).
Parsley also contains vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that may benefit your heart health.
A study in 13,421 people demonstrated that those with the highest intake of vitamin C had a significantly reduced risk of heart disease compared to those with the lowest intake ().
Summary Parsley contains carotenoid antioxidants and vitamin C — both of which have been shown to benefit heart health.
Your kidneys are important organs that constantly filter your blood, removing waste and extra water, which is then excreted with your urine.
Sometimes, when urine becomes concentrated, mineral deposits can form and lead to a painful condition called kidney stones (21).
A study in rats with kidney stones found that those treated with parsley had decreased urinary calcium and protein excretion, as well as increased urinary pH and urination compared to a control group ().
Parsley has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties due to its antioxidants, including flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamin C.
Additionally, parsley may help keep your kidneys healthy by reducing high blood pressure, a major risk factor for kidney disease.
Parsley is high in nitrates that help dilate blood vessels, which improves blood flow and lowers high blood pressure. Research indicates that nitrate-rich foods like parsley can help maintain healthy blood pressure levels (23, 24).
The anti-inflammatory properties of parsley, along with its ability to regulate urinary pH and reduce blood pressure, may help keep your kidneys healthy and lower your risk of kidney stones ().
Keep in mind that parsley is relatively high in oxalates — compounds that may increase kidney stone risk.
Still, health experts recommend that only people with hyperoxaluria — characterized by excessive oxalate excretion in the urine — limit their intake of dietary oxalates ().
Summary Parsley may help keep your kidneys healthy by fighting inflammation and reducing high blood pressure and your risk of kidney stones.
Parsley may improve your health in the following ways as well:
- Antibacterial properties. Parsley contains essential oils, including apiol and myristicin, which have antibacterial effects and fight potentially harmful bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus (2).
- May benefit bone health. Parsley is rich in vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, and calcium — all of which are essential to bone health ().
- May boost immunity. Research shows that apigenin — an antioxidant in parsley — regulates immune function by reducing inflammation and preventing cellular damage ().
- May enhance liver health. Studies in rats with diabetes found that parsley extract may prevent liver damage, enhance liver function, and boost antioxidant levels ().
Summary Parsley has antibacterial properties and may help support bone health, boost your immune system, and enhance liver health.
Parsley is a versatile herb that’s easy to add to many dishes.
Here are some ways to add parsley to your diet:
- Use as a garnish on pasta or soups.
- Chop and add to salads.
- Use in egg bakes or frittatas.
- Make a pesto with pine nuts, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley.
- Add to smoothies for a nutrient and flavor boost.
- Use on homemade pizza.
- Add to homemade bread.
- Use in homemade juices.
- Add flavor to soups and stews.
- Incorporate into marinades and dressings.
- Use to flavor fish, poultry, and meat dishes.
Summary Parsley is a versatile herb that can be used in many ways, such as in egg bakes, sauces, juices, or as a garnish.
To best store fresh parsley, you first need to remove the bottom of the stem. Do not rinse.
Fill a glass or jar halfway with water and place the stem ends into the water. If you keep the plant in the refrigerator, it’s best to loosely cover it with a plastic bag. Otherwise, parsley can be kept at room temperature.
Change the water every couple of days and discard the herb once the leaves start turning brown. This way, your herb may stay fresh for up to two weeks.
Dried parsley can last in an airtight container in a cool, dark environment for six months to one year (30).
Summary Fresh parsley can be kept in your refrigerator or at room temperature and lasts up to two weeks. Dried parsley may last up to a year if kept in a cool, dark place.
Rich in antioxidants and nutrients like vitamins A, K, and C, parsley may improve blood sugar and support heart, kidney, and bone health.
What's more, this herb can easily be added to many tasty dishes. Parsley stays fresh for up to two weeks, whereas dried parsley may last up to a year.
Adding parsley to your diet can boost your health while adding flavor to your favorite recipes.