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Basil vs. Parsley — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Elen Khachatrian by Elen Khachatrian | Last updated on May 29, 2024
Medically reviewed by Astghik Baghinyan Article author photo Astghik Baghinyan
Basil
vs
Parsley

Summary

Parsley contains more Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folate, and Vitamin A, as well as more potassium and iron compared to basil. Specifically, parsley provides 6 times more Vitamin C and 2 times more Vitamin K than basil. The glycemic index of parsley is also lower than that of basil.

On the other hand, basil has more manganese, copper, and Vitamin B6

Introduction

In this article, you can find a detailed description of the differences between basil and parsley.

What's the Actual Difference?

Basil and parsley have different textures and tastes, and they also originate from different plant families.

The main difference between basil and parsley is that parsley is a leafy herb and vegetable that belongs to the Petroselinum genus within the Apiaceae family, while basil is a tender plant that belongs to the Ocimum genus within the Lamiaceae family.

Parsley has a clean and peppery taste, green color, and feather-like leaves. Its leaves are solid and oblong, with a point at the end. Basil has a fresh flavor, with a finish of black pepper and subtle anise.

Both are widely used in the culinary world. 

Nutrition

In this section, we will look into the nutritional differences between  fresh parsley and fresh basil

Usually, the serving size for parsley is larger than that of basil. Since basil is mostly used as a garnish, its serving is about 2 tablespoons, equaling around 5.3 grams. On the other hand, the serving size of parsley is one cup, which is around 60 grams

To make the comparison easier, we will be referring to 100-gram servings of each. 

Macronutrients

As can be seen from the macronutrient composition graphs below, basil and parsley have similar macronutrient compositions

Just like most fruits and vegetables, water makes up most of their content – basil consists of 92% of water, while parsley consists of 88% water.

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Basil
2
:
Contains more Fats +23.4%
Contains more Carbs +138.9%
Contains more Other +46.7%
Equal in Protein - 2.97
Equal in Water - 87.71
3% 3% 92%
Protein: 3.15 g
Fats: 0.64 g
Carbs: 2.65 g
Water: 92.06 g
Other: 1.5 g
3% 6% 88% 2%
Protein: 2.97 g
Fats: 0.79 g
Carbs: 6.33 g
Water: 87.71 g
Other: 2.2 g
Contains more Fats +23.4%
Contains more Carbs +138.9%
Contains more Other +46.7%
Equal in Protein - 2.97
Equal in Water - 87.71

Calories

Both basil and parsley are low in calories

Basil contains 23 calories per 100g, whereas parsley contains 36 calories per 100g.

Carbohydrates

Both basil and parsley are low-carb foods; however, parsley has two times more carbs than basil.

Per 100-gram serving, parsley contains 6.33g of carbs, whereas basil contains 2.65g. 

Moreover, parsley contains 3.33g of fiber and 3.02g of net carbs. Basil contains 1.6g of fiber and 1.05g of net carbs.

Fats and Cholesterol

The fat content in both basil and parsley is less than 1g per 100-gram serving. Basil contains 0.64g of fat, and parsley contains 0.79g of fat.

Basil and parsley contain no cholesterol.

Protein

Basil and parsley have very low amounts of protein.

Vitamins

The vitamin content of parsley is richer than that of basil.

The predominant vitamins found in both parsley and basil are Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and folate. 

Parsley contains six times more Vitamin C, two times more Vitamin K, and more Vitamin B3, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B1, Vitamin A, and folate.

Parsley falls in the range of the top 10% of foods as a source of Vitamin A and the range of the top 12% of foods as a source of Vitamin C.

On the other hand, basil contains more Vitamin B6.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Basil
2
:
Contains more Vitamin B6 +72.2%
Contains more Vitamin A +59.7%
Contains more Vitamin C +638.9%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +152.9%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +28.9%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +45.6%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +91.4%
Contains more Folate +123.5%
Contains more Choline +12.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +295.4%
Equal in Vitamin E - 0.75
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 317% 16% 0% 60% 9% 18% 17% 13% 36% 51% 0% 7% 1037%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 506% 15% 0% 444% 22% 23% 25% 24% 21% 114% 0% 7% 4100%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +72.2%
Contains more Vitamin A +59.7%
Contains more Vitamin C +638.9%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +152.9%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +28.9%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +45.6%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +91.4%
Contains more Folate +123.5%
Contains more Choline +12.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +295.4%
Equal in Vitamin E - 0.75

Minerals

Both parsley and basil are rich in minerals.

Basil contains calcium, magnesium, copper, and less sodium than parsley. In addition, basil falls in the range of the top 13% of foods as a source of calcium.

Parsley has more zinc, potassium, and zinc than basil. This herb falls in the range of the top 9% of foods as a source of iron.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Basil
6
:
Contains more Calcium +28.3%
Contains more Magnesium +28%
Contains less Sodium -92.9%
Contains more Copper +158.4%
Contains more Manganese +617.5%
Contains more Selenium +200%
Contains more Iron +95.6%
Contains more Potassium +87.8%
Contains more Zinc +32.1%
Equal in Phosphorus - 58
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 54% 119% 46% 24% 27% 1% 23% 129% 150% 2%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 42% 233% 36% 25% 49% 8% 30% 50% 21% 1%
Contains more Calcium +28.3%
Contains more Magnesium +28%
Contains less Sodium -92.9%
Contains more Copper +158.4%
Contains more Manganese +617.5%
Contains more Selenium +200%
Contains more Iron +95.6%
Contains more Potassium +87.8%
Contains more Zinc +32.1%
Equal in Phosphorus - 58

Glycemic Index

Parsley is considered a low glycemic index food, while basil is considered a high glycemic index food. The GI of basil is 70, whereas the GI of parsley is equal to 32.

Acidity

One way to understand the acidity of foods is through their potential renal acid load (PRAL) value. The PRAL value shows how much acid or base the given food produces inside the organism after consumption. 

The PRAL values of parsley and basil are -11.1 and -6.5, respectively, which means that parsley has a greater potential to alkalize the body.

Health Impact

Cardiovascular Health

Section reviewed by cardiologist Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan

The diuretic properties of parsley work best in hypertensive individuals and may aid in removing excess water from the body. Parsley contains a high concentration of vitamin K, which has anti-calcification properties in blood vessels, allowing for smooth blood flow and lowering the risk of plaque formation and atherosclerosis complications (1).

Parsley is also a good source of folate, which helps lower homocysteine levels in the blood. Elevated homocysteine levels are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Basil contains eugenol, which has the potential to block calcium channels and lower blood pressure. According to one study, blood pressure returned to normal after a few minutes of using eugenol extract (2). Basil also contains essential oils that may aid in the reduction of cholesterol and triglycerides. Furthermore, this herb contains magnesium, which may improve blood flow by relaxing muscles and blood vessels.

In summary, both basil and parsley offer potential cardiovascular benefits due to their antioxidant content and other nutrients. Basil may provide additional benefits through its essential oils, while parsley is particularly rich in folate. Including a variety of herbs and spices in your diet, along with other heart-healthy foods, can contribute to cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Cancer

One study shows that parsley contains antioxidant flavonoids, such as apigenin, which has anti-carcinogenic properties in almost all cancer cell lines (3).

Basil is high in antioxidants like lutein, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. These antioxidants have numerous health benefits, including the possibility of lowering the risk of several types of cancer, such as lung cancer, liver cancer, oral cancer, and skin cancer (4).

Diabetes

Vitamin A is abundant in parsley. According to a new study, Vitamin A improves insulin-producing-cell function (5). The researchers first discovered that insulin-producing beta-cells have a high Vitamin A cell surface receptors concentration.

A basil extract was found to help reduce high blood sugar levels in one study. Sweet basil extract, in particular, may aid in the long-term treatment of high blood sugar (6).

According to one in vitro study, basil leaf extract helps manage the inhibition of a-glucosidase and pancreatic a-amylase enzymes, which may help treat type 2 diabetes (7).

Side Effects

Allergy

The allergy to basil is caused by our immune system mistaking basil for a dangerous invader. Basil allergy symptoms include tingling or itching in the mouth, a runny nose, itchy eyes, and, in rare cases, diarrhea (8).

Parsley can cause food allergy symptoms in people who are allergic to pollen, especially those with allergic rhinitis (9).

Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
Education: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Last updated: May 29, 2024
Medically reviewed by Astghik Baghinyan

Infographic

Basil vs Parsley infographic
Infographic link

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Basil
2
:
Contains less Saturated Fat -68.9%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +213.7%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +235.2%
8% 17% 75%
Saturated Fat: 0.041 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.088 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.389 g
24% 54% 23%
Saturated Fat: 0.132 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.295 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.124 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -68.9%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +213.7%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +235.2%

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Basil Parsley
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in minerals Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Basil Parsley Opinion
Net carbs 1.05g 3.03g Parsley
Protein 3.15g 2.97g Basil
Fats 0.64g 0.79g Parsley
Carbs 2.65g 6.33g Parsley
Calories 23kcal 36kcal Parsley
Fructose 0.02g Basil
Sugar 0.3g 0.85g Basil
Fiber 1.6g 3.3g Parsley
Calcium 177mg 138mg Basil
Iron 3.17mg 6.2mg Parsley
Magnesium 64mg 50mg Basil
Phosphorus 56mg 58mg Parsley
Potassium 295mg 554mg Parsley
Sodium 4mg 56mg Basil
Zinc 0.81mg 1.07mg Parsley
Copper 0.385mg 0.149mg Basil
Manganese 1.148mg 0.16mg Basil
Selenium 0.3µg 0.1µg Basil
Vitamin A 5275IU 8424IU Parsley
Vitamin A RAE 264µg 421µg Parsley
Vitamin E 0.8mg 0.75mg Basil
Vitamin C 18mg 133mg Parsley
Vitamin B1 0.034mg 0.086mg Parsley
Vitamin B2 0.076mg 0.098mg Parsley
Vitamin B3 0.902mg 1.313mg Parsley
Vitamin B5 0.209mg 0.4mg Parsley
Vitamin B6 0.155mg 0.09mg Basil
Folate 68µg 152µg Parsley
Choline 11.4mg 12.8mg Parsley
Vitamin K 414.8µg 1640µg Parsley
Tryptophan 0.039mg 0.045mg Parsley
Threonine 0.104mg 0.122mg Parsley
Isoleucine 0.104mg 0.118mg Parsley
Leucine 0.191mg 0.204mg Parsley
Lysine 0.11mg 0.181mg Parsley
Methionine 0.036mg 0.042mg Parsley
Phenylalanine 0.13mg 0.145mg Parsley
Valine 0.127mg 0.172mg Parsley
Histidine 0.051mg 0.061mg Parsley
Saturated Fat 0.041g 0.132g Basil
Monounsaturated Fat 0.088g 0.295g Parsley
Polyunsaturated fat 0.389g 0.124g Basil

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Basil Parsley
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
121%
Basil
408%
Parsley
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
57%
Basil
49%
Parsley

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Parsley
Parsley is lower in glycemic index (difference - 38)
Which food is cheaper?
Parsley
Parsley is cheaper (difference - $2.5)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Parsley
Parsley is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Basil
Basil is lower in Sugar (difference - 0.55g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Basil
Basil contains less Sodium (difference - 52mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Basil
Basil is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.091g)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Basil - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172232/nutrients
  2. Parsley - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170416/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.