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the garnish that's also good for you
Native to the Mediterranean region, parsley has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years. Its name is derived from a Greek word meaning "rock celery" (parsley is a relative of celery). The ancient Greeks held parsley to be sacred, using it to not only adorn victors of athletic contests, but also for decorating the tombs of the deceased, and the ancient Romans used it as a garnish. While it is uncertain when parsley began to be consumed as a seasoning, it seems to be sometime in the Middle Ages in Europe. Some historians credit Charlemagne with its popularization since he had it grown on his estates.
Now the world's most popular herb, parsley is widely used in Middle Eastern, European, Brazilian, and American cooking. In America, parsley is most commonly used as a garnish, as well as a flavoring in meat and vegetable stews. Parsley is also commonly used as a garnish in Europe and western Asia, but is also a common ingredient in stocks, soups, sauces, and condiments. In Brazil, parsley is a key seasoning for a wide variety of meat, chicken, fish, and vegetable dishes. Parsley is a common salad green in the Middle East.
In addition to adding color and flavor to a variety of dishes, parsley is one of the few herbs to have great nutritional value. One half cup of parsley provides 554% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K, as well as significant quantities of vitamins C and A, folate, iron, and dietary fiber.
Long before being used as a seasoning, parsley was used in herbal medicine. The ancient Greeks valued the seeds and roots of the plant for their soothing, diuretic effect on those with kidney and bladder ailments, and parsley is still used as a diuretic today. In addition, it strengthens the digestive system and helps alleviate stomach and liver problems. Eugenol, an essential oil found in parsley, is used in dentistry as a local anesthetic and an anti-septic agent for teeth and gum diseases. Parsley contains a significant level of potassium, which is important in lowering blood pressure, and folic acid, which may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Parsley also ranks higher than most vegetables in bistidine, an amino acid that has been shown to inhibit the growth of some tumors.
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This page was last updated on 07/23/2017.