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Watercress vs. Parsley — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Elen Khachatrian by Elen Khachatrian | Last updated on May 31, 2024
Medically reviewed by Astghik Baghinyan Article author photo Astghik Baghinyan
Watercress
vs
Parsley

Summary

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.

Introduction

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.

Nutrition

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

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

Both parsley and watercress consist mainly of water. Parsley consists of 88% of water, whereas watercress consists of 95% of water

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Protein +29.1%
Contains more Fats +690%
Contains more Carbs +390.7%
Contains more Other +83.3%
Equal in Water - 87.71
2% 95%
Protein: 2.3 g
Fats: 0.1 g
Carbs: 1.29 g
Water: 95.11 g
Other: 1.2 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 Protein +29.1%
Contains more Fats +690%
Contains more Carbs +390.7%
Contains more Other +83.3%
Equal in Water - 87.71
 

Calories

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.

Carbs

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.

Fats

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.

Protein

Both watercress and parsley have negligible amounts of protein.

Vitamins

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.

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.
:
Contains more Vitamin E +33.3%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +22.4%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +43.3%
Contains more Vitamin A +164%
Contains more Vitamin C +209.3%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +556.5%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +29%
Contains more Folate +1588.9%
Contains more Choline +42.2%
Contains more Vitamin K +556%
Equal in Vitamin B1 - 0.086
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 192% 20% 0% 144% 23% 28% 4% 19% 30% 7% 0% 5% 625%
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 E +33.3%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +22.4%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +43.3%
Contains more Vitamin A +164%
Contains more Vitamin C +209.3%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +556.5%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +29%
Contains more Folate +1588.9%
Contains more Choline +42.2%
Contains more Vitamin K +556%
Equal in Vitamin B1 - 0.086

Minerals

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

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.
Contains less Sodium -26.8%
Contains more Manganese +52.5%
Contains more Selenium +800%
Contains more Calcium +15%
Contains more Iron +3000%
Contains more Magnesium +138.1%
Contains more Potassium +67.9%
Contains more Zinc +872.7%
Contains more Copper +93.5%
Equal in Phosphorus - 58
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 36% 8% 15% 26% 30% 6% 3% 26% 32% 5%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 42% 233% 36% 25% 49% 8% 30% 50% 21% 1%
Contains less Sodium -26.8%
Contains more Manganese +52.5%
Contains more Selenium +800%
Contains more Calcium +15%
Contains more Iron +3000%
Contains more Magnesium +138.1%
Contains more Potassium +67.9%
Contains more Zinc +872.7%
Contains more Copper +93.5%
Equal in Phosphorus - 58

Glycemic Index

Both parsley and watercress are considered low glycemic index foods.

The glycemic index of parsnip and parsley are both 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. 

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.

Health Impact

Cardiovascular Health

Section reviewed by cardiologist Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan

Parsley's high folate content can help lower blood homocysteine levels, which is linked to an increased risk of heart disease (1).

Watercress contains high levels of dietary nitrates, which have been associated with improved cardiovascular health. Nitrates can help dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow, and lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease (2).

Parsley also contains some dietary nitrates, although typically in lower concentrations compared to watercress.

Both watercress and parsley have anti-inflammatory properties due to their rich array of antioxidants and phytochemicals. Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, so incorporating foods that help reduce inflammation can be beneficial for heart health by reducing the risk of atherosclerosis, the main cause of coronary heart disease (3).

In summary, both watercress and parsley offer potential benefits for cardiovascular health due to their nutrient content, antioxidant properties, and anti-inflammatory effects. Including them in a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can contribute to overall heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cancer

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 (4). Polyacetylenes extracted from parsley have chemoprotective and cytotoxic activity (5).

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 (6).

Diabetes

Several studies show a direct relationship between eating fiber-rich foods like parsley and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (7). One cup of parsley contains 7 grams of soluble fiber, which may help lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels (8).

Eye Health

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 (9).

Bone Health

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 (10).

Another study found that eating parsley reduced the risk of bone fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis (11).

Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
Education: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Last updated: May 31, 2024
Medically reviewed by Astghik Baghinyan

Infographic

Watercress vs Parsley infographic
Infographic link

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains less Saturated Fat -79.5%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +3587.5%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +254.3%
39% 11% 50%
Saturated Fat: 0.027 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.008 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.035 g
24% 54% 23%
Saturated Fat: 0.132 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.295 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.124 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -79.5%
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +3587.5%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +254.3%

Comparison summary table

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

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Watercress Parsley Opinion
Net carbs 0.79g 3.03g Parsley
Protein 2.3g 2.97g Parsley
Fats 0.1g 0.79g Parsley
Carbs 1.29g 6.33g Parsley
Calories 11kcal 36kcal Parsley
Sugar 0.2g 0.85g Watercress
Fiber 0.5g 3.3g Parsley
Calcium 120mg 138mg Parsley
Iron 0.2mg 6.2mg Parsley
Magnesium 21mg 50mg Parsley
Phosphorus 60mg 58mg Watercress
Potassium 330mg 554mg Parsley
Sodium 41mg 56mg Watercress
Zinc 0.11mg 1.07mg Parsley
Copper 0.077mg 0.149mg Parsley
Manganese 0.244mg 0.16mg Watercress
Selenium 0.9µg 0.1µg Watercress
Vitamin A 3191IU 8424IU Parsley
Vitamin A RAE 160µg 421µg Parsley
Vitamin E 1mg 0.75mg Watercress
Vitamin C 43mg 133mg Parsley
Vitamin B1 0.09mg 0.086mg Watercress
Vitamin B2 0.12mg 0.098mg Watercress
Vitamin B3 0.2mg 1.313mg Parsley
Vitamin B5 0.31mg 0.4mg Parsley
Vitamin B6 0.129mg 0.09mg Watercress
Folate 9µg 152µg Parsley
Choline 9mg 12.8mg Parsley
Vitamin K 250µg 1640µg Parsley
Tryptophan 0.03mg 0.045mg Parsley
Threonine 0.133mg 0.122mg Watercress
Isoleucine 0.093mg 0.118mg Parsley
Leucine 0.166mg 0.204mg Parsley
Lysine 0.134mg 0.181mg Parsley
Methionine 0.02mg 0.042mg Parsley
Phenylalanine 0.114mg 0.145mg Parsley
Valine 0.137mg 0.172mg Parsley
Histidine 0.04mg 0.061mg Parsley
Saturated Fat 0.027g 0.132g Watercress
Monounsaturated Fat 0.008g 0.295g Parsley
Polyunsaturated fat 0.035g 0.124g Parsley

Which food is preferable for your diet?

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

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
84%
Watercress
408%
Parsley
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
18%
Watercress
49%
Parsley

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Watercress
Watercress is lower in Sugar (difference - 0.65g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Watercress
Watercress contains less Sodium (difference - 15mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Watercress
Watercress is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.105g)
Which food is cheaper?
Watercress
Watercress is cheaper (difference - $0.3)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Parsley
Parsley is relatively richer in minerals
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (32)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
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. Watercress - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170068/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.