This page about parsley for gout was last reviewed, or updated, on 4 December 2014.
Why, oh why, did it become a culinary habit that chefs place miserable sprigs of parsley on top of grilled (broiled) fish and chops, or as a side-of-the-plate garnish? How did this hopeless habit begin? Chefs do this because they think it makes a dish present better, but whenever I've seen it I think "what's that bit of parsley doing there?" And after a meal, most uneaten sprigs are simply thrown away.
This travesty gives the impression that parsley is a humble and not very useful food. Merely O.K. for decoration, or add it to a sauce, a stew, a stock, a marinade or a stuffing; or throw some into a salad. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What a lack of imagination about a super-food !
When I say it's one of the good foods for gout, I don't mean parsley is some sort of folklore gout remedy that itself lowers uric acid, pain and inflammation, just as cherries, celery, and perhaps strawberries and others are reputed to do. Quite the opposite. It’s much more likely to raise it if you eat too much.
Parsley is high purine. So how many purines are there in parsley?
One purines list on the Internet has parley as low purine. But a Japanese scientific report on purines in foods noted that parsley is high purine. It said 100 grams of parsley would produce 341 mg of uric acid from its 289 mg of purines. If daily uric acid production should be not more than 400 - 600 mg, then this is a lot and must be adjusted for.
You can’t afford to take the risk that parsley could adversely affect your uric acid. But if you eat it in small amounts it should not be significant. Ten grams, (0. 3 ounces, a third of an ounce, or about a third of a U.S. cup or 5 tablespoons) of fresh chopped parsley, according to the Japanese study would mean about 34 mg of uric acid (29 mg of purines).
But at the same time parsley is a very nutritious and healthy food. Whatever anyone's cause of gout, it is going to do some good in a gout diet in small amounts.
Consider the health benefits of parsley…..
Low carbohydrate Parsley has 6.3 mg of carbs per 100 grams. But net carbs (the real number) is 3.3 mg because there's 3.0 grams of fibre (fiber) per 100 grams and you deduct the fibre (fiber) to get the effective carbs amount. 3.3 is another good score.
Low calorie Only 36 kcal (calories) or 151 kJ per 100 grams, based on a 2,000 calories diet.
GI-GL Medium Glycemic Index (GI) 20-60 and an estimated Glycemic Load (GL) of 2 at nutritiondata.self.com i.e. both are low. What does GI-GL mean? Visit our Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load page.
Or read about the Glycemic (Glycaemic) Load at Wikipedia.
Acid-Alkaline(pH) Chlorophyll gives parsley, and other green plants, its green colour (color) and chlorophyll, together with parsley's minerals (calcium, magnesium, zinc and especially potassium), greatly contributes to making parsley an alkaline-effect food. That’s good for gout.
ORAC score ORAC ranks a food's ability as an antioxidant. Fresh parsley's nutrients give it a useful ORAC score; concentrated dried parsley has a higher ORAC score, but as with high ORAC spices, you would use less, and so consume fewer antioxidants.
Fibre (fiber) 3.3 grams of fibre (fiber) per 100 grams raw parsley is a useful amount. See above in carbohydrates.
Flavonoids Apigenin, in larger amounts than in most foods (see above). Another, luteolin, has been found to be a weak inhibitor of xanthine oxidase (1) and in other studies has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties. Myricestin is also found in parsley. So is a small amount of the super flavonoid quercetin.
flat leaf parsley
OTHER PARSLEY NUTRIENTS
According to the USDA National Nutrient database these are the amounts of vitamins and minerals in raw parsley.
100 grams of parsley, fresh, at the USDA National Nutrient database.
Vitamin C 133 mg - that's more than double the amount in oranges and strawberries.
Calcium 138 mg.
Magnesium 50 mg.
Potassium 554 mg.
Zinc 1.07 mg.
Folate (the precursor of folic acid) 152 mg.
Beta Carotene 5054 mcg.
Vitamin A 8424 IU.
Lutein + Zeaxanthin 5561 mcg.
Vitamin K 1640 mcg.
Iron 6.2 mg.
Vitamin A 8424 IU.
Beta-Carotene 5054 mcg.
One tenth of these numbers (eg Vitamin C: 13.3 mg) for the amount in 2 tablespoons.
APIGENIN IN PARSLEY
Parsley is a very rich source of the bioflavonoid flavone apigenin. (215 mg per 100 grams of fresh raw parsley *). Only a few other herbs are in the same apigenin league. Celery, another gout friendly food, only has 2.34 mg/100 grams. Apigenin is still being investigated as a potential gout cure. It has been found in at least one study of olive leaves (1) to inhibit xanthine oxidase (XO) and by more than other flavonoids in that study. XO is the enzyme which is required to convert purines into uric acid. But this was just in a test tube. The gout drug allopurinol also works by inhibiting xanthine oxidase.
So parsley in a gout diet is a good idea, but don’t overdo it. Whatever kind of diet you construct to prevent or ameliorate gout, parsley easily slots into all of them.
PARSLEY DISHES' VIDEO
Watch a video (just under 2 minutes) from Marco Pierre White, on how this chef makes parsley sauce. He doesn't use much parsley, which is what we look for because of its purines. Parsley sauce goes well with fish or ham, and since a gout diet needs fish twice a week, parsley sauce is a good complement to fish. (Use very little flour in the sauce if you are on a low carb diet).
Tip Put parsley in omelettes - it's quick, easy, and you don’t use much.
1 tablespoon (1.6 grams) of dried parsley at the USDA National Nutrient database. But beware, the dried parsley you can buy in little bottles, is likely to be even higher in purines.
Vitamin C 2 mg.
Calcium 18 mg.
Magnesium 6 mg.
Potassium 43 mg.
Zinc 0.09 mg.
Folate (the precursor of folic acid) 3 mcg.
Lutein + Zeaxanthin 39 mcg.
Vitamin K 21.8 mcg.
Vitamin A 31 IU.
Beta-Carotene 18 mcg.
How to store parsley (and other herbs) – keep them fresh longer.
SOME OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF PARSLEY
Parsley can freshen bad breath by its chlorophyll especially from eating garlic - that's why parsley is included in some garlic supplements. Try it if you are on the Atkins diet for gout, and if the Atkins gives you bad breath; good for bones – it slows human bone erosion because it slows the removal of calcium from bones; apply chopped up parsley leaves to a bruise to heal; a diuretic – it removes water from the body; a laxative which can relieve constipation; cleanses the kidneys; apigenin, discussed above, has also been shown in a 2011 study of rats to stop certain breast cancer cells from growing, and it has demonstrated anti-cancer properties in other studies.
Many other health benefits are claimed for parsley. It often shows up in vitamin preparations. If you have the time, it's worth researching these on the Internet.
In the meantime, if you are a garnish-only person, I hope you look at parsley in a different way. Be careful of its purines, but don't only use it for decoration!
Related links you might enjoy - vegetables and fruit in a gout diet.
*USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods Release 3 (2011) published by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
(1) Flemmig J, Kuchta K, Arnhold J, Rauwald HW. Olea europaea leaf (Ph.Eu.) extract as well as several of its isolated phenolics inhibit the gout-related enzyme xanthine oxidase. Phytomedicine. 2011 May 15;18 (7):561-6.