Parsley and cilantro

For decades, American cooks relegated sprigs of parsley to throwaway garnishes on the sides of sad-looking dinner plates. 

More recently, herb-savvy cooks have recognized parsley’s clean, fresh flavor—an essential ingredient in dishes like Gremolata-Crusted Fish Fillets, Orange-Parsley Hummus and Braised Mushrooms with Herbs

Thai Butternut Squash SoupCilantro, often called Chinese parsley, adds a distinctive flavor to Thai and Latin American cuisine, and I encourage you to experiment with easy recipes like Tequila-Lime Corn & Bean Salad, Thai Roasted Squash Soup (right) and Garlic Snow Peas with Cilantro

But how do these two flavorful herbs stack up nutritionally? 

“A quarter cup of chopped parsley is a good source of both beta-carotene (the plant form of vitamin A) and vitamin C, which are both found in much smaller amounts in cilantro,” says registered dietitian Karen Collins, nutrition adviser for the American Institute for Cancer Research. 

Parsley also provides more (albeit small) amounts of folate, potassium and iron, she explains. 

As for cilantro, it contains “about twice the amount of antioxidant phytochemicals (natural plant compounds),” as compared to parsley, she says. 

The bottom line? 

“Both are great choices to add a fresh taste to salads, salsas, soup, pasta and more,” Collins concludes. “Use them both and know you’re getting great flavor and nutrition.” 

Photos: Flippinyank, Swanson Broth