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More than just a decorative garnish, wreaths of parsley (Petroselinum sativum) were worn by Greek athletes – including Hercules, according to legend – to celebrate victories. (1,2) Today, we know that parsley offers great protection to the body against environmental chemicals and toxins. (3-5)
Based on some of the new discoveries, parsley, as a garnish, cooked into your soups or blended into your smoothies, may be better served as a regular staple throughout your spring, summer and fall diets.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum, neapolitanum and tuberosum) is loaded with flavonoids (which make it a great source of vitamin C) and volatile oils such as myristicin, apiol and eugenol that offer powerful toxin and chemical-protective properties. Myristicin activates the liver’s most powerful detoxification enzyme, called glutathione peroxidase, which is known to rid the body of toxins, chemicals, environmental pollutants and more. (3-5)
The volatile oils in parsley were also shown to neutralize certain types of benzopyrenes, which are toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke and charcoal-grilled foods. (5)
Eugenol is a potent volatile oil found in parsley – also one of the primary health-promoting constituents of tulsi (holy basil). What does eugenol do? It naturally fends off undesirable foreign bacteria in the gut, such as candida. The volatile oils in parsley can help to balance blood sugar, boost immunity and mental function, and protect against chemical damage in the liver, cells, gut and more. (4)
Parsley is rich in flavonoids that protect the cells throughout the body against toxic chemicals and oxidation. One such flavonoid is called luteolin, which supports healthy carbohydrate metabolism, blood sugar and provides enhanced antioxidant properties. All of these qualities make parsley a powerful environmental toxin-protective for the body! (7,8)
In Ayurveda, parsley is used to enhance the benefits of kitchari (a meal of rice, mung beans, and spices). Not only do we use it atop our kitchari during the Colorado Cleanse, we also use it as one of the key ingredients in the Colorado Cleanse’s infamous Green Tonic. The Green Tonic is a big part of the 4-day pre-cleanse during the Colorado Cleanse (Phase 1). For those of you who have not done our Colorado Cleanse, the green smoothie is most enjoyed either as a drink – to be consumed at room temperature – or as a soup, served hot. (9)
Below is the recipe for the Green Tonic. It makes about 2 (8 ounce) servings:
- 1-2 cups filtered water for steaming
- 2 medium celery stalks, chopped
- 1 whole zucchini, chopped
- 1 cup string beans, ends trimmed and chopped
- ½ cup fresh parsley
- Steam all the vegetables except parsley for about 8 minutes or until bright green, tender but not mushy. Try not to overcook, as over-cooking can start to decrease nutrient value.
- Combine all the ingredients, including the fresh parsley, in a blender using the remaining steaming water as a thinning agent. Puree until smooth, adding more water as needed to reach your desired consistency. If you have a Vitamix or a similarly powerful blender, you can make the Green Tonic very smooth. A weaker blender or food processor may result in a chunkier, less unified texture.
- To support digestion, drink the Green Tonic at room temperature, warm, or hot – not cold. After you steam the veggies, they can be blended and taken as a hot soup right away.
- Green Tonic Soup (Warm and Savory): Make it a “soup” by adding garlic, ginger, salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with a squeeze of lemon.
- Green Tonic Smoothie: Add 1 small beet with a slice of fresh ginger and the juice of ½ a lemon.
While the above recipe is recommended, if you need variety, you may use any of the greens from the appropriate Seasonal Cleansing Foods list. See our Spring, Summer, and Winter Seasonal Cleansing Food Lists here.
What’s your favorite way to use parsley?