Herb of the Month: Parsley
This green Mediterranean herb is part of the Umbelliferae family along with carrots and celery. The parsley plant prefers to grow in rocky areas. There are more than 30 varieties of the herb with the most popular being the stronger flavored "flat" leaf (AKA Italian) and the milder "curly" leaf.
Parsley is grown worldwide. In the U.S., it’s mostly grown commercially in California and Florida. Curled parsley is available all-year while Italian parsley may sometimes be more difficult to find.
Parsley also contains special compounds called flavonoids that have been shown to help prevent cancer. Animal studies have also found that it helps lower blood sugar in diabetics. Parsley is also an effective breath freshener due to the high amount of chlorophyll it contains.
Parsley is available fresh or dried. It can be added to soups, sauces, pasta and grain dishes, veggies, meats and fish. Add fresh parsley toward the end of the cooking process for the best flavor and highest amount of nutrients.
Shopping Tip: Look for fresh parsley with bright green leaves that aren’t wilted or yellow. To store, wash fresh parsley, shake off excess water, wrap in a paper towel then place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Trim any wilted parts before storing. Curled leaf parsley may be frozen.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »