Parsley is a springtime herb that pairs well with potato salad, rice and several Italian-inspired dishes. Herbs often offer health benefits despite the small amount you typically use when cooking. Parsley is no exception, with many nutrients that support your overall health. Look for fresh parsley in the produce section of your supermarket or purchase it dried for similar benefits.
One tablespoon of parsley contains 320 international units of vitamin A. The average daily intake recommendation range is 2,310 to 3,000 international units. With such a concentrated amount in parsley, it is a good way to increase the amount you take in. Vitamin A is important for immunity because it produces white blood cells, which prevent illness by fighting bacteria and viruses. This vitamin also prevents infection in the eyes and keeps the lining of your respiratory, urinal and intestinal tracts healthy so that they can ward of bacteria and viruses that could make you sick.
Forms Vitamin A
While parsley is high in vitamin A, it also contains carotenoids that boost the formation of vitamin A within your body. Beta-carotene is one such carotenoid, and a tablespoon of parsley contains 192 micrograms. Getting beta-carotene from parsley helps keep vitamin A levels up, which prevents bone abnormalities, reproductive problems, dryness in the eyes and even death. Combining parsley with carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach increases your beta-carotene intake.
Aids in Blood Clotting
Vitamin K is a nutrient that helps your body clot blood, and a tablespoon of parsley contains 62.3 micrograms. People with certain health conditions, such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease or cystic fibrosis are at a higher risk of a deficiency and the resultant bleeding problems, but incorporating parsley into your recipes can help counteract this. Adult females need 90 micrograms of vitamin K daily, while men should get 120 micrograms each day.
In addition to the vision benefits of beta-carotene and vitamin A, a tablespoon of parsley contains 211 micrograms of lutein and zeaxanthin. These are carotenoids with antioxidant benefits for your eyes. They work to counteract cellular damage that occurs due to environmental exposure to harmful light rays that could result in the development of macular degeneration. Increasing lutein and zeaxanthin intake decreases your risk of cataracts, reports the American Optometric Association. Leafy greens are a good source of both carotenoids, so adding parsley to your next green salad will dramatically increase your intake.