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Nutritious Herb Substitutes for Parsley - An Overview

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3 min read


Parsley is a common kitchen herb used mostly in western countries. Read the article to learn about its types, nutritional content, and substitutes.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Mansimranjit Kaur Uppal

Published At March 21, 2023
Reviewed AtMarch 22, 2023

What Is the Need for Substitutes for Parsley?

Parsley is a bright green herb with a refreshing flavor that is grown in most countries. It is a biennial plant that needs shade to sprout well. In fact, indoor herb gardens and nurseries have parsley for its ornamental and herbal nature. It is also used in cooking, such as soups, stews, and omelets. However, in many countries, it is not commonly available. Hence, there is a need for nutritional substitutes for parsley.

What Are the Types of Parsley?

There are two types of parsley:

  1. Flat-leaf Parsley- It is also known as the Italian parsley. It is the most commonly used form in the culinary world. It is also used as a herbal addition in most soups and stews. The flat-leaf parsley has a grassy and peppery taste. Further, it has the added benefit of conversion into a herbal sauce that goes well with savory dates.

  2. Curled Parsley- The curled parsley is used mainly for garnishing savory dishes. It is because of its unique texture and appealing look. The curled parsley herb has a mild flavor and a sweet taste. It also works well for decorating a platter and gives a unique seasoning over a carbohydrate or protein diet. Furthermore, it adds a distinct flavor to roasted vegetables, rice, or omelets.

Parsley also has an ornamental status regarding cuisines. However, it may not be a daily herb in the kitchen due to the limited supply. Hence, there are many better and healthier substitutes available.

What Is the Nutritional Value of Parsley?

Nutrition is the most important part of a person’s development. A small amount of parsley adds a definite flavor to the dishes. However, it does not offer essential nutrients. The nutrition facts for one tablespoon, i.e, for approximately 3.8 g (grams) of fresh parsley, given by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are:

  • Carbohydrates: 0.2 g

  • Fat: 0 g

  • Sodium: 2.1 mg (milligrams)

  • Dietary Fiber: 0.1 g

  • Protein: 0.1 g

  • Calories: 1

Parsley was previously used as a medicine in many countries. It is because of its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. It is also a natural laxative that aids in digestion. Parsley has also been used in various traditional cuisines across the world.

What Are the Disadvantages of Parsley?

Some notable disadvantages of parsley are:

  1. It cannot be found in many countries. Hence, there is always an ongoing search for a seasoning herbal substitute.

  2. Many people have potential parsley allergies. There have been reports of anaphylaxis or hives in sensitive individuals. However, such allergies are uncommon. It is because they depend on individual sensitization.

  3. Besides allergy, there are non-allergic reactions to parsley. In these individuals, consuming foods with parsley results in bouts of cough or rashes. As a result, the affected person should contact a healthcare provider or a nutritionist. Also, individuals with grass or weed allergies should consider parsley substitutes because similar reactions can occur with parsley.

What Are the Healthy Substitutes for Parsley?

Many herbs are convenient to use instead of parsley. They are:

  1. Chervil: Chervil is a good herb substitute for parsley. In fact, it looks and tastes similar to flat-leaf parsley. As fresh chervil is a zero-calorie food, it can be a healthier substitute. Further, trace amounts of vitamin A, vitamin B6, magnesium, selenium, and iron can be obtained from a tablespoon of dried chervil. It has also been used in traditional alternative medicine for improving systemic immunity.

  2. Basil: Basil is also a good substitute for parsley. This popular herb is easier to grow in the garden. However, it is not a significant source of calories or essential nutrients. Still, it can be used in smaller amounts for both garnishing and taste. Basil is often the best substitute for parsley in any Mediterranean or Italian dish. Basil also boosts mental alertness and prevents exhaustion or easy fatigue.

  3. Celery Leaves: Although celery leaf is not a herb, it is the healthiest alternative to parsley. It is because of its refreshing flavor, good water content, and micronutrients like potassium, vitamin A, folate, and vitamin K. It is also a low-calorie vegetable with essential fiber content that leads to satiety. A single cup of chopped celery can considerably boost a person’s immunity. Also, it is cardioprotective and anti-diabetic because of its low glycemic index (rating system for foods with carbohydrates). Hence, it is a good substitute for parsley owing to its multiple health benefits, rich potassium, and antioxidant content. Celery leaves similar to basil have a strong salty flavor. Hence, one should take care to reduce the amount of salt in recipes. Moreover, celery is the most recommended herb by nutritionists due to its low carbohydrate concentration.


Though parsley is a popular herb from the traditional era, it is advised to have a healthier substitute. Celery, basil, and chervil are advised for toppings and culinary use in savory dishes. However, it is wise to consult a dietician or a nutritionist before switching to a substitute. It is because the medical history and body requirements are pertinent before implementing these herbs in the daily diet regimens.

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Dr. Achanta Krishna Swaroop
Dr. Achanta Krishna Swaroop



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