Today’s herb is Parsley

Parsley is a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean. The two most common types are French curly-leaf and Italian flat-leaf.

Over the years, parsley has been used to treat conditions like high blood pressure, allergies, and inflammatory diseases.

Parsley provides great nutritional value and offers many potential health benefits:

  • rich in vitamin K which is essential for blood clotting and bone health
  • rich in vitamins A and C – important nutrients with anti-oxidant properties
  • high concentration of anti-oxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids and vitamin C makes parsley powerful to help prevent cell damage in the body and protect from certain diseases
  • flavonoids and vitamin C in parsley may also provide cancer fighting properties
  • can help protect eye health and may reduce the risk of age-related eye conditions due to plant compounds lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene found in parsley
  • may improve heart health as parsley is rich in folate, a vitamin B linked to improving heart health
  • eating parsley benefits your complexion – as the herb is high in vitamin C, and vitamin C makes collagen, which gives skin its structure and strength
  • can help aid digestion and reduce bloating
  • can act as a natural breath freshener
  • can help with bladder infections

Parsley is versatile and easy to add to our diets and also safe to consume for most people.

Parsley can be found as a dried spice, fresh herb or as an extract.

Fresh parsley can be enjoyed as a base for green salad not just as flavouring or garnish.

Today’s spice is Poppy Seed  

Poppy seed is an oilseed obtained from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum).

The tiny, kidney-shaped seeds have been harvested from dried seed pods by various civilizations for thousands of years. It is still widely used in many countries, especially in Central Europe, where it is legally grown and sold in shops. The seeds are used whole or ground into meal as an ingredient in many foods – especially in pastry and bread – and they are pressed to yield poppy seed oil. 

The poppy seed is mentioned in ancient medical text from many civilizations. For instance, some Egyptian papyrus scrolls written c.1550 BC, list poppy seed as a sedative. A Bronze Age civilization which arose on the island of Crete, cultivated poppies for their seed, and used a milk, opium and honey mixture to calm crying babies. The Sumerians are another civilization that are known to have grown poppy seeds.

Poppy seed has the following health benefits:

  • can aid the prevention of heart diseases – each serving of poppy seed contains a considerable amount of linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that offer protection against heart disease
  • can support bone maintenance and development – poppy seeds contain both iron and phosphorus, minerals essential for the maintenance of both muscles and bones
  • can prevent constipation and other digestive problems – poppy seeds have high amounts of dietary fibre, which aids the digestive system in metabolizing and smoothly processing food
  • can enhance brain function
  • assists in red blood cells production – the abundance of copper and iron in poppy seeds improves red blood cell formation, which helps with anaemia and other blood-related conditions
  • can help with insomnia – taking a teaspoon of poppy seed oil before going to bed has been observed to help ease the symptoms of insomnia by promoting relaxation
  • can help with eczema and skin inflammation – due to high levels of anti-inflammatory compounds
  • can be used as skin moisturizer – grind some seeds and add some milk to make a paste (for dry skin, add honey); apply it to your face and let it sit for about 10 minutes, then rinse
  • can be an effective dandruff treatment – mix soaked poppy seeds with hung curd and a teaspoon of white pepper and apply to your scalp, leave for about an hour and rinse off

Poppy seed consumption in small amounts should be safe for most people but should be avoided by pregnant and breast-feeding women.

If in doubt, as ever, please seek advice from a healthcare or medical professional.