What’s the common denominator between mythology, witchcraft, genocide…and Simon and Garfunkel? Parsley, that’s what! It turns out that parsley is an historically controversial little mofo that’s been associated with death and evil for centuries!
These are the exceedingly logical reasons why death and evil are parsley’s homies:
- The ancient Greeks believed that the herb sprouted from Archemorus’ pool of blood. Arhcemorus’ means “forerunner of death.”
- In medieval times, parsley’s slow and inconsistent germination patterns were said to be as a result of the seeds travelling to and from hell. Logically, if you were a woman with a green thumb, you were a witch who communed with the devil. Virgins were not allowed to plant parsley because that sh*t-crazed-parsley-devil might come and do the dirty with them.
- Parsley oil was historically used as an abortifacient because of its ability to stimulate menstruation in women…um, yeah.
- Parsley’s distant cousin is the poisonous and fatal hemlock. Due to their similarity in appearance, people projected their fear of hemlock onto the innocuous parsley.
- In 1937 the asshole Dominican Dictator, President Rafael Trujillo, ordered the killing of Haitian nationals living on the borderlands. In order to determine whether or not the person was Haitian or Dominican, soldiers would give him a sprig of parsley and ask for it to be named. The difference in pronunciation of the 'r' in the Spanish word for parsley (perejil) would determine his fate. The genocide accordingly came to be known as the Parsley Genocide. Trujillo got his punk-ass assassinated in 1961. Parsley wasn’t involved in the hit.
- In 1966 Simon & Garfunkel sang about parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme in their song “Scarborough Fair.” Boredom is a form of evil. If you’re bored enough, you may just hit your head against the wall. Repeatedly. This may kill you. ‘Nuff said.
For all its infamy, or perhaps because of it, parsley is the world’s most popular herb; living under culinary persecution for centuries is nothing if not a testament to this awesome herb’s adaptability and tenacity.
There are two basic types of parsley popularly used today:
- Curly Leaf Parsley: Much like Garfunkel’s crop of hair, this parsley has voluminous, creased leaves that sprout in all manner of gravity-defying directions. Hence, we’ve coined it the Garfunkel Parsley. This variety is more popular than its counter-part (oh man, what a Catch-22) but is said to be slightly more bitter in taste. It is also more sensitive to the environment and will die in cold conditions.
- Flat leaf / Italian Parsley: Much like Simon’s head of hair, this parsley is relatively flat, is less widely, and is often confused with coriander leaves. The Simon Parsley survives better in dry, cold and wet conditions, and is said to have a sweeter and more intense flavour than its counter-part.
Here are some of “Simon” and “Garfunkel’s” best traits:
- Stems From: Interestingly enough, parsley stems tend to carry more flavour than the leaves themselves, notwithstanding the fact that the leaves are commonly used in cooking.
- Antioxidants Galore: Parsley is a great source of disease-fighting antioxidants since it is high in vitamin A and its precursor, beta-carotene. Vitamin A prevents the build-up of poo-poo plaque in your arteries and protects your eyes against disease. Parsley is rich in polyphenolic flavonoid antioxidants which help reduce cellular damage.
- Anti-inflammatory, Anti-fungal, Anti-histamine and Anti-bacterial: The vitamin A in parsley is also a potent anti-inflammatory agent which, along with vitamin C and the flavonoid luteolin, is thought to be useful in combating asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Parsley can also be used as a home remedy for your minor skin burns and insect bites…just grind some fresh parsley in a pestle and morter and apply to the inflamed area. The cooling, soothing and inflammation-busting powers of parsley are also an effective remedy for menstrual cramps and cystitis.
- Skinny Love: Parsley is a the low-calorific herb, with 100g of fresh leaves containing only 36 calories and virtually no sugar or fat. Despite the low calorie count, it’s a powerhouse of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre.
- Immune Booster: The vitamin C in parsley acts as a water-soluble antioxidant that fights harmful free radicals which cause diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Vitamin C also staves off day-to-day illnesses such as colds, flu and ear infections.
- Sexes Up Your Skin: Tea made from parsley can apparently clear up your skin because of the high vitamin C content. This is why parsley is a common ingredient in detoxifying green juices.
- Loves Your Heart: Parsley is the richest herbal source of the mineral potassium, which reduces high blood pressure (the primary cause of heart attacks). Potassium is destroyed in cooking, so eating or drinking raw parsley will help you to maximise on its benefits. 100g of fresh parsley provides approximately 12% of your daily recommended potassium allowance. Potassium also helps to control your heart rate and blood pressure by countering the effects of sodium. Parsley is also an excellent source of folic acid which is one of the most important B vitamins which, among others, maintains the proper functioning of your heart. Specifically, folic acid converts homocysteine (which increases your risk of heart disease) into benign molecules.
- Makes You Pee Like a Boss: A natural diuretic, parsley helps with the excretion of sodium and water from your body by stimulating your kidneys to eliminate badass waste. Potassium helps to balance the fluid levels in your body which can be disturbed through, among others, exercise.
- Mineral Explosion: Parsley is an excellent source of magnesium which protects your bones and nervous system. It also contains manganese, which boosts your memory, iron to prevent fatigue, and copper and zinc, which assist with the healing of your wounds.
- Reduces Your Risk of Cancer: Parsley contains several substances, such as limonene, that appear to exhibit anti-cancer properties, particularly against tumour in the lungs and brain. These substances are believed to neutralise the carcinogens in cigarette smoke. Parsley also contains myristicin which is a powerful cancer and tumour preventative agent derived from parsley leaf oil. Parsley is accordingly considered a ‘chemo-protective’ food.
- Fresh like a Young Hugh Hef: Chewing on a parsley sprig after a meal can help to freshen your breath…it even helps to counteract the love-it-or-hate-it pungency of garlic breath.
- Strong Bones and Blood Clotting: Parsley has tons of vitamin K, which helps develop strong bones and improves the clotting effects of your blood. Vitamin K also has an established role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage to the brain.
- Contains Protein: Surprisingly, parsley contains a significant amount of protein. Word.
- Juice that Mofo: One cup of parsley contains 133% of your required daily intake of vitamin C, 101% of vitamin A, 21% of your daily need of iron and 3 micrograms of vitamin K (accounting for 52 percent and 69 percent of the recommended daily amount for men and women, respectively), so juice that mofo like there’s a tomorrow.
- Uterotonic Effect: Okay so this isn’t actually a good trait, but one that you need to be aware of. While parsley contains folic acid, it is generally recommended that women avoid eating excessive amounts of parsley when pregnant because of the possible uterotonic effects caused by excess levels of myristicin in the body (such as muscle stimulation and the onset of menstruation.) It’s generally thought that possible adverse side effects of parsley on pregnancy are as a result of parsley oil.
- Natural Medicines, Comprehensive Database: Parsley
- Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, James A Duke. 2nd ed 2002, CRC Press Ltd at 554
- Myristicin: a potential cancer chemopreventive agent from parsley leaf oil by Guo Zheng, Patrick Kenney, Luke Lam. (1992)
- Cytotoxicity Assessments of Portulaca oleracea and Petroselinum sativum Seed Extracts on Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells (HepG2) by Farshori NN, Al-Sheddi ES, Al-Oqail MM, Musarrat J, Al-Khedhairy AA, Siddiqui MA.
- Optimization of extraction conditions of some polyphenolic compounds from parsley leaves (Petroselinumcrispum) by Kuźma P, Drużyńska B, Obiedziński M.
- Parsley: a review of ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry and biological activities by Farzaei MH, Abbasabadi Z, Ardekani MR, Rahimi R, Farzaei F.
- Critique of medicinal conspicuousness of Parsley(Petroselinum crispum): a culinary herb of Mediterranean region by Mahmood S, Hussain S, Malik F.
- Anticancer activity of Petroselinum sativum seed extracts on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells by Farshori NN,Al-Sheddi ES, Al-Oqail MM, Musarrat J, Al-Khedhairy AA, Siddiqui MA.
*Please note that, as and where necessary, Oh!Poppyseed™ has inserted links to studies published in various scientific and medical journals in order to provide its readers with a better understanding of the science behind some of the topics discussed on the Oh!Poppyseed™ website. These scientific and medical publications frequently, and unfortunately, cite the use and results of animal testing for purposes of, or as a constituent to, conducting the research in question. Oh!Poppyseed™ is emphatically against vivisection and animal testing of any kind, particularly in the light of technological advancements which serve as alternatives to vivisection and animal testing. Oh!Poppyseed’s™ insertion of these additional resources, for reference purposes, should in no way be construed as an active or implicit endorsement of the means by which certain conclusions in these studies have been reached. In short, vivisection is all kinds of fucked up, unnecessary and we don't support that cruel-ass industry at all.