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a close up of parsley

Parsley’s claim to dubious fame as a decorative garnish is getting another look. Scientists, chefs, and home cooks are discovering its underappreciated qualities as a powerful detoxifier whose nutrients may help prevent cancer and other chronic diseases.

The herb contains the volatile oil myristicin, a known cancer fighter that’s been shown in studies to prevent tumor formation. It also offers folate, an important B vitamin that supports cardiovascular health and helps reduce the risk of colon and cervical cancers.

Parsley’s antioxidants include vitamin C (a powerful anti-inflammatory) and pro–vitamin A carotenoids that help your body ward off many chronic diseases. And the herb is also a mild diuretic, supporting your detoxification system; it may even help prevent kidney and bladder problems.

Get more parsley on your plate with these five ideas.

  1. Chop it. You can top just about anything with chopped parsley, including cooked brown rice and other whole grains, soups, potatoes, and salads.
  2. Juice it. Add parsley — stems and all — to make your favorite juice or smoothie. The herb pairs especially well with fresh apple and celery juice.
  3. Relish it. Make gremolata with minced parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. The relish makes a great topping for fish, eggs, pasta, and stews.
  4. Pulse it. Parsley makes an excellent aromatic base for herbed sauces. Make zesty chimichurri by using your blender’s pulse setting to mix parsley, garlic, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, red-wine vinegar, and olive oil, and serve over grilled meats or vegetables. Parsley is also an alternate base for pesto: Use a food processor to blend parsley with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and a touch of finely shredded Parmesan cheese.
  5. Steep it. Put 1/4 cup parsley in an infusion basket and place in a teapot or cup. Pour 1 cup boiling water over it and steep five to seven minutes. Sweeten with honey, or simply add fresh lemon juice for an instant detox drink.

This article originally appeared as “More Than a Garnish” in the June 2021 issue of Experience Life.

Karen Olson

Karen Olson is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor.

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