Foods that Heal: Parsley and the Mediterranean Diet

December 31, 2010

Foods that Heal:  Parsley and the Mediterranean Diet 

 Reference:  Healing Spices  Agarwal 2011 

 Parsley is the number three spice in America.  It sits right after salt and pepper.  But it isn’t eaten near as much as it’s placed on the edge of the plate, and thrown out.  For a New Year’s Resolution,  I’m going to explore this year all those foods that you will find on your plate, so that you can use them more and tip the balance of health in your favor. Why do I start with parsley?  Because it’s so lowly and so unlikely.  If someone said parsley was a strong little candidate for being a superfood, you would have just fallen off your chair laughing.  That’s why I chose it. 

 Here’s why it’s so potent.  It’s loaded with an antioxidant called apigenin, one of the flavonoid family foods.  Apigenin is a multiplier of other antioxidants that your body naturally makes.  For example, if you take 14 folks and feed them a Standard American Diet (SAD) – in other words, all white.  White bread, white potatoes, and no vegetables or antioxidants.  Run that for two weeks and measure the two most important natural antioxidants in your body, Superoxide Dismutase, and glutathione, you can show they are dramatically reduced and your cells are showing signs of oxidative damage.  

Now, add parsley back, and voila, all that damage goes away.  No other food does that.  Or, take 1,140 women with ovarian cancer and “parse” out the details of their diets.  The ONLY food that correlates statistically with lower ovarian cancer rates is parsley.  Twenty-one percent less!  It’s the apigenin in parsley that does it.  Not bad? 

 Let’s speculate a little more.  You know very well that the Mediterranean diet is very good for you. Right?  What’s one of its main foods?  Tabbouleh!  Equal parts of cracked wheat and parsley and then flavored with salt, scallions, olive oil, and mint.  Take folks in Morocco eating parsley and measure their platelet aggregation and you find a 65% decrease with parsley.  Platelet aggregation is what heart disease and stroke prevention is all about.  You could take Plavix and aspirin instead, and face all the bleeding consequences.  Or, you could just start with eating parsley. Now, I haven’t even gotten to the use of parsley in the treatment of Lyme’s Disease.  But the Cowden Protocol uses it as one of their essential elements……I can go on.

 WWW. What will work for me?  I’m fascinated by unlikely corners and hidden gems.  Parsley caught my eye.  I thought it would too.  So, tonight, at your New Year’s Party.  When everyone else has finished up the snacks and treats, check out the parsley sitting there on the edge and have a little.  Then, make your own tabbouleh!  Maybe the Mediterranean diet is really a parsley and olive oil diet with a lot of lovely sunshine for Vit D.  In the bleak midwinter, think of yourself being Mediterranean.

Column written by Dr John Whitcomb, MD Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield WI, 262-784-5300