Parsley vs. Watercress — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Parsley provides more calories and carbs compared to watercress, although both are considered low-calorie and low-carb foods.
Parsley contains more Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folate, and Vitamin A, as well as around 30 times more iron. On the other hand, watercress contains slightly more Vitamin E, Vitamin B2, and Vitamin B5.
Table of contents
This article will explore the differences between parsley and watercress in terms of nutrition and health impact.
What's the Actual Difference?
Parsley is a leafy herb and vegetable that belongs to the Petroselinum genus within the Apiaceae family, while watercress belongs to the Nasturtium genus within the Brassicaceae family.
Parsley and watercress have different textures and tastes. Parsley has a clean and peppery taste, while raw watercress has a peppery flavor, similar to mustard and wasabi. Watercress has soft, mid-green leaves with an unbroken edge and an oval shape.
The serving size of both parsley and watercress is usually one cup, which is around 60 grams of parsley and 34 grams of watercress.
Macronutrients and Calories
Both parsley and watercress consist mainly of water. Parsley consists of 88% of water, whereas watercress consists of 95% of water.
Both parsley and watercress are low in calories; however, parsley provides 3 times more calories than watercress.
Parsley provides 36 calories per 100-gram serving, whereas watercress provides 11 calories.
Both watercress and parsley are low-carb foods; however, parsley provides five times more carbs than watercress.
Per 100-gram serving, parsley contains 6.33g of carbs, whereas the same serving of watercress contains 1.29g of carbs.
100-gram servings of both parsley and watercress contain less than 1g of fat. Per 100-gram serving, watercress contains 0.1g of fat, and parsley contains 0.79g of fat.
Watercress and parsley have no cholesterol.
Both watercress and parsley have negligible amounts of protein.
The vitamin content of parsley is richer than that of watercress, although both are full of various vitamins essential for health.
Parsley contains 7 times more Vitamin K, 3 times more Vitamin C, 17 times more folate, and 2 times more Vitamin A.
Moreover, parsley falls in the range of the top 10% of foods as a source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A. 100g of parsley can fully cover your daily Vitamin A need.
On the other hand, watercress contains slightly more Vitamin E, Vitamin B2, and Vitamin B5.
Parsley is richer in minerals than watercress. It contains around 30 times more iron, falling in the range of the top 9% of foods as a source of iron.
Parsley also has more calcium, zinc, magnesium, copper, and potassium
Both parsley and watercress are considered low glycemic index foods.
The glycemic index of parsnip and parsley are both equal to 32.
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.
The PRAL values of parsley and watercress are -11.1 and -5.7, respectively, which means that parsley has a greater potential to alkalize the body.
Parsley's high folate content can help lower blood homocysteine levels, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
According to some in vitro studies, parsley also contains polyacetylenes, which may have anticancer properties (1).
High levels of carotenoids have been shown in studies to protect against the development of heart disease and lower your risk of heart attack and stroke (2). Watercress is high in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Low levels of these carotenoids have been linked to heart disease and hypertension.
Sulforaphane, found in parsley, has been shown to be effective in treating breast, colon, prostate, and ovarian cancers. Parsley is also high in Vitamin C, an antioxidant with free-radical scavenging properties, which provides anticancer protection (3). Polyacetylenes extracted from parsley have chemoprotective and cytotoxic activity (4).
In one study, watercress outperformed all other vegetables in terms of total phenol content and ability to neutralize free radicals associated with oxidative stress and several cancer types (5).
Several studies show a direct relationship between eating fiber-rich foods like parsley and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (6). One cup of parsley contains 7 grams of soluble fiber, which may help lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels (7).
Numerous studies have demonstrated that lutein and zeaxanthin are critical for eye health. They specifically protect your eyes from blue light damage. Lutein and zeaxanthin have also been linked to a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Both parsley and watercress are high in lutein, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C and can help keep your eyes healthy and lower the risk of developing cataracts (8).
Parsley is high in magnesium and calcium, essential for bone development. A cup of chopped parsley contains over 45 milligrams of magnesium. At the recommended daily intake of 320-420mg, parsley provides more than 10% of an adult's magnesium needs. According to one study, consuming the recommended daily magnesium intake can help build and maintain strong bones (9).
Another study found that eating parsley reduced the risk of bone fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis (10).
- Health attributes of roots and tubers
Fat Type Comparison
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Lower in Glycemic Index||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||421µg||160µg|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet||Equal|
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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
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.
- Parsley - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170416/nutrients
- Watercress - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170068/nutrients
All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.