Naturally Yours: "Please Pass The Parsley"

Do you casually dismiss that parsley sprig gratuitously placed on your dinner plate? The following information may pique your interest in "Little Pussley," as it was formerly called.

Native to the Mediterranean where it thrives on cliffs and rocky garden walls, parsley has a somewhat checkered past. Greek mythology reveals that this herb sprang from the blood of King Lycurgus' infant son, who was slain and devoured by serpents while his nanny was otherwise engaged. Associated with death, it was only planted at Greek grave sites, where it flourished into a lush green carpet. Eventually, parsley wreaths adorned the crowns of athletic victors at contests, and the custom of placing a parsley sprig on dinner plates originated with it's use as a breath freshener at Greek banquets. Parsley has been referred to as Satan's herb because its tiny seeds are so slow to germinate, they were said to go to the devil and back seven times!

From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, parsley was recognized by the U.S. Pharmacopoeia as a laxative, and a diuretic for kidney problems and edema associated with congestive heart failure. Parsley oil contains two very potent uterine stimulants, apiol and myristicin, and although toxic in high doses, it was routinely prescribed for this purpose. This practice halted in the early twentieth century, perhaps because of the many side effects associated with its use.

In Germany today, physicians routinely prescribe parsley as a diuretic for the treatment of hypertension. Recently, a substance in parsley, psoralen, has shown some promise as a therapy for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, one type of cancer. Dr. Dean Jones, Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Emory University School of Medicine, has been analyzing foods for their glutationine content, a potent antioxidant. Parsley topped the list, along with broccoli and spinach. Glutationine quickly degrades when heated, if you wish to obtain the full benefit, eat your parsley, broccoli and spinach raw, chopped in salads, Parsley is nutrient dense and extremely low in calories, as are most low starch vegetables, and it contains Vitamins A, B complex and C, as well as the minerals iron, potassium, calcium and abundant magnesium.

Two common varieties of parsley can be found in the produce section of the supermarket, flatleaf(Italian parsley) which is more flavorful, and the common curly variety. Seek bright, crisp green leaves and stems with no signs of wilting or yellowing. Wash and dry the bunch thoroughly, trim the bottoms of the stems and immerse in a small jar filled with either spring or distilled water. Cover tops loosely with a performed plastic bag and place in the refrigerator. Snip tops as needed, save stems for soup stock.

To get more parsley in your diet, try this quick and refreshing spread.

Parsley Spread

* 2 cups parsley tops
* 1 T. lowfat or nonfat soy mayonnaise
* 1 t. minced onion

Process parsley tops in food processor until thoroughly, chopped, then add mayonnaise and onion. Pulse until well blended. Store in refrigerator and use in lieu of plain mayo when making sandwiches. This is also very tasty as a healthful topping for baked potatoes, avocado and steamed vegetables.

Parsley Pesto: Replace basil with parsley the next time you make pesto. It is a surprisingly good substitute. Use can also use walnuts instead of pine nuts. I have been making pesto using this recipe for years and I actually prefer it to the standard recipe.

A word of caution to you juicers out there parsley juice packs so powerful a punch that it should never be consumed alone, but in combination with other juices, about one twelfth parsley to other juice.

Please don't self-medicate if you have hypertension, but enlist the aid of a qualified, knowledgeable health professional.

Otherwise - please pass the parsley!

Sentient Press.

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By Risa Lieb

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