The Many Health Benefits of Parsley and its Relatives
Parsley is a little green herb with a fresh taste and several tasty relatives like dill, carrots, and fennel. There are many types of parsley such as flat leaf parsley, and Italian parsley. Today, almost all of the parsley plant Is used in a variety of ways, from the parsley leaves down to the parsley seeds themselves there’s a use for each and every atom of this extraordinary plant. In fact, the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae family contains some of the most popular and delicious vegetables and herbs in our diets. Primarily classed as aromatic plants, many of these amazing plants are packed full of vitamins and other micronutrients that our bodies rely on to stay healthy.
Here’s a rundown on these incredible plants and what they can do for you:
All About the Anise
Anise has a potently sweet, heady taste, similar to that of star anise, fennel, and liquorice. Anise Oil is primarily used in traditional medicine as a digestive aid. Used to stop stomach cramps, flatulence, and indigestion, the anise plant clearly proves that it’s more than just a sweet taste. In fact, its potency in treating digestive ailments is so strong that the ancient Romans often finished their elaborate, festive meals with cakes spiced with anise seeds, thereby easing the diners turgid stomachs after traditionally large, multi-coursed feasts.
What Are Carrots Good for? Absolutely Everything
Carrots are a common vegetable with a blandly sweet and slightly earthy taste. This predominant sweetness and vibrant coloring makes carrots a firm favorite vegetable – mostly with young children. Carrots are definitely not just a one trick pony as the nutritional value of carrots is well documented. I have always hated carrots, maybe due to my lack of knowledge about the existence of a purple carrot, I was told profusely by my mother that “they would help me see in the dark”. Obnoxious child that I was, I quickly pointed out that you are not meant to be able to see in the dark because dark means it’s time to sleep, and that if you were desperate you could just turn the lights on.
Needless to say, my mother was – as always – right. Carrots are a great source of beta-carotene which your body transforms into retinol (a major component of vitamin A) and then into retinal which is a molecule that combines with other proteins in the eye to allow you to absorb light and see properly. Essentially, the health benefits of carrots are too many to list.
Is Celery Good for You? Ummmm… Yeah
The benefits of celery are many. In fact, in recent studies carried out on those with extreme hypertension (high blood pressure) celery was proven to significantly lower and regulate systolic and diastolic blood pressure. This is due to a compound called 3-n-butylphthalide. Celery root, which is a knobbly root vegetable called celeriac, has no particular medicinal properties but makes a delicious, delicate soup. Celery, nutrition, these are two terms that go in hand in hand.
What is Chervil? Healthy, That’s What
The Chervil Herb comes in a variety of forms, there’s dried Chervil leaves, Chervil seeds, and fresh Chervil. It is more delicately flavored than parsley, with a taste more reminiscent of a sweet liquorice than its robust cousin. In French cooking it is classified as one of the “fine herbs”,along with tarragon, chives, parsley, and other culinary herbs. These herbs are too delicately structured for long cooking or exposure to severe heat. It is traditionally used in folk medicine as a digestive aid, for lowering blood pressure, or for curing hiccups. Similar medicinal properties are shared among many plants in this family.
Coriander Vs Cilantro, A Battle for the Ages
Coriander is a fairly pungent herb that, like most of these plants, comes in a myriad of sorts. From Coriander leaves to coriander seeds there’s plenty of this sharp herb to go around. The fully matured version of coriander, cilantro leaves have a bitter aftertaste and brusque citrusy overtones. They are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, which are essential antioxidants and bone-builders. However, coriander is the kind of plant that you either really love or really hate. Because some people have such a strong aversion to the smell and taste of this controversial plant, it doesn’t really appear in traditional or herbal cures.
Dill Seed, Dill Weed, Feed Me Dill
Fresh dill has delicate fronds and a unique taste which has seen it play a part internationally in cuisine, in everything from Indian relishes to French fish dishes, dill recipes are a mainstay. It was traditionally used as a treatment for a range of ailments including headache, stomach and liver problems, and nausea. Think dill is too strong? Try dried dill weed for a slightly less potent taste. Don’t use a dill substitute!
Parsnip Nutrition and You
Parsnip is another vegetable I hated as a child probably because I couldn’t understand its flavor which is overwhelmingly sweet with a pepper-sharp piquancy behind it. It is a great source of several vitamins and minerals, and is an especially rich source of potassium and manganese. It is rich in antioxidants and an especially good source of soluble fibers which your body needs to keep the digestive system literally running smoothly (as fiber helps prevent constipation) and may even help reduce the amount of cholesterol present in the blood.
Some popular parsnip recipes include carrot and parsnip soup and honey roast parsnips. However, don’t limit yourself to recipes that others have come up with. Be creative and experiment yourself with how to cook parsnips according to your own individual preferences and tastes.
It amazes me time and time again just how packed the natural world is with remarkable plants that can keep us healthy and give us so many different cures and treatments. With more than 3700 different species of plants in this family, this list doesn’t even begin to cover just how astonishing parsley and its relatives are, nor all the incredible health benefits they have to offer.