For the most part, parsley is not bad for you. It contains vitamins and flavonoids that help fight cancer and diabetes. However, people with certain blood disorders or pregnant women may need to avoid eating large amounts of parsley—the herb can adversely affect these conditions.
Parsley is the world’s most widely used herb. It’s sprinkled atop dishes to give them some color, or mixed into sauces and seasoning to add flavor without spiking the sodium. But in addition to lending a little extra oomph to your meals, parsley offers a host of health benefits.
First, parsley contains Myricetin, a flavonoid found commonly in plants. However, not all plants are as rich in Myricetin as parsley—which is right up there with sweet potatoes and cranberries. Myricetin matters because it has been found to help prevent cancer and lower your risk of developing diabetes.
Second, parsley includes the naturally occurring chemical apigenin. Also beneficial to cancer prevention, apigenin has been shown to decrease tumor growth in aggressive forms of breast cancer. The University of Missouri researchers who performed the study believe that apigenin may soon become an important non-toxic cancer treatment.
Finally, as a green herb, parsley is comprised of higher amounts of chlorophyll—which makes it perfect for grilling! It sounds strange, but grilling foods at high temperatures can actually generate heterocyclic amines, which are known carcinogens. Chlorophyll helps block some of their carcinogen effects, making it safer for you to enjoy the char-grilled foods you love.
So how could parsley possibly be bad for you?
Parsley is a mega-source of vitamin K, which is also its pitfall. Vitamin K helps your body build strong bones, improves your heart health and, most notably, plays a critical role in blood clotting. Without vitamin K, your body would bleed excessively from ordinary wounds. And in just 10 sprigs, parsley supplies two times the daily vitamin K recommendation for adults—but not all adults need to meet those requirements. Vitamin K can counteract certain blood-thinning medications, which could be very dangerous (potentially even life-threatening) for patients who depend on those drugs.
Pregnant women should also avoid eating large amounts of parsley or consuming parsley oil. High doses of parsley can stimulate uterine contractions which may lead to a miscarriage or premature labor. For this very reason, parsley has been used as an abortifacient for many years; parsley juice is still the primary ingredient in a Russian drug used to induce labor.
If you are unsure about whether or not parsley should be incorporated into your diet, consult your physician—especially if you are on blood-thinners, pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
Possible short-term side effects
- interferes with blood-clotting drugs
Possible long-term side effects
- premature labor
Ingredients to be aware of
- vitamin k
- gives food color
- improves taste without extra sodium
- helps prevents cancer
- reduces risk of diabetes