Nutritional Information for Parsley

Parsley is enjoyed in many dishes from around the world. Some of the tiniest edible leafy greens like parsley, oregano, rosemary and others are among the healthiest on the planet. Fresh and dried parsley contain potent antioxidants with the potential to help prevent cancer growth.

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Benefits of Parsley

Cancer Prevention Benefits

There seems to be a connection with those eating more a more Mediterranean-type of diet rich in herbs and spices and having a reduced risk of lung cancer. From these findings, many of the compounds found naturally in parsley are being explored. One compound is called carnosol and has been tested for anti-cancer properties. Researches believe carnosol can attack many different types of cancer, including prostate, breast, skin, leukemia, and colon cancer cells. One thing these studies have in common is that they are designed to see how a compound works against a known inflammatory pathway or gene that’s been associated with cancer growth. By watching how these compounds modify inflammatory pathways it can give some insight as to why and how these herbs are potentially so healing to the body.

For prostate cancer, carnosol has been found to block a phase (G2) in the cell dividing process in prostate cancer cells. It seems this compounds targets certain parts of cell growth and lowers the chances that prostate cancer cells can grow and spread to other areas of the body. Researchers do not know the exact effects of carnosol, but it seems to be safe for normal cells in the body and may be a useful agent for cancer prevention.

Another compound studies is apigenin – a type flavonoid (antioxidant) found mainly in parsley and chamomile, but also in onions, oranges, tea, wheat, and sprouts. Studies have associated this compound as having anti-oxidant, anti-mutagenic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, and anti-spasmodic effects. It’s been known to work against many types of cancerous cells, but one type of cancer, called choriocarcinoma (cancer known to spread to the lungs), has been looked at and the findings are interesting. It seems a Apigenin helps block the spread of this type type of cancer and the spreading of cancer (metastasis) in general.  Other studies have shown apigenin is great at helping stop cell growth. It works by blocking the tumor’s blood supply and even reduce the tumors uptake of glucose. There are too many individual pathways to discuss in depth, but the conclusion of one review mentions how this compound in particular “may provide some additional benefit beyond existing drugs in slowing the emergence of metastatic disease.”

It has been found to act similarly to carnosol, targeting inflammatory pathways and reducing the growth of cancer.  Of course, all of these studies cannot be taken for face value, as more human trials are needed, but it does give hope that small changes in what we eat may dramatically alter the course of cancer.

The antioxidant properties in parsley have been shown to protect against DNA damage and inhibit cancer growth and spread. In cell studies, extracts of parsley were tested on liver cancer cells and found they were able to disrupt many cancer pathways.  Researchers claim these extracts may be used for the development of a potential therapeutic anticancer agent.

The last anti-cancer agent to discuss is lupeol, a type of triterpene, which is a plant sterol known to help naturally lower cholesterol. Lupeol has the potential  to target key molecular pathways associated with cancer. It ‘s been shown to be completely safe for normal cells and only attacking cancerous ones. Studies are underway to see if lupeol could be a therapeutic and chemopreventive agent for the treatment of inflammation and cancer, but until we get more research, eating parsley straight up is the way to go.

For breast cancer, naturally occurring flavonoids in plants may provide a variety of anticancer compounds useful for breast cancer prevention and treatment. Parsley, celery, thyme, celery, chamomile, onions, lemon balm, and oranges are all foods with available flavonoids like apigenin, which have been associated with cancer protection.

Men's Health Benefits

Parsley is a big source of antioxidants for Spanish students in Poland. That may sound weird, but it’s true, the research shows oregano and parsley are major contributors in their diet. This can be true for any man trying to up his ante on antioxidants!

There was an interesting study asking experts in Ethnobotany, the scientific study of the relationships that exist between peoples and plants, what they thought were the most popular plants used to treat skin diseases and prostate cancer. A majority of the people asked responded with parsley. Chamomile, nettle and sage were others of popularity.

These tiny plants are packed with more nutrition than given credit. Adding parsley and other herbs and spices to the daily diet can only help boost overall health. One study found by just adding 1 teaspoon of parsley to about a half-cup of beans will greatly enhance the antioxidant content.  

Ways to Use Parsley


  • Add fresh parsley to salads, including potato salad and bean salads
  • Use in Italian cooking for pizzas, sauces and soups
Resources for Parsley

American Institute for Cancer Research:

Nutrition Facts:

Physicians Committee:

USDA Nutrient Database: Parsley

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