Apigenin as a natural product and is a flavone. Flavones are found in cereals and herbs. Scientific interest in flavones has grown due to their potential positive effects against atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, diabetes and even some cancers . These beneficial effects on health have lead to an increase in the marketing of dietary supplements containing flavones.
Apigenin is a Flavonoid
Flavonoid is a non technical term and has many subgroups such as flavones (which include apigenin), flavonols dihydroflavonols, isoflavones, flavanones, anthocyanins and anthocyanidins. Each of these subgroups contains many hundreds of flavonoids.
There are over 6,000 flavonoids found in almost all plants. Flavonoids may be named after the plant that contains them. For example, the flavonoid ginkgetin is from the ginkgo tree and tangeretin is a favonoid found in tangerines.
What Do Flavonoids Do in Plants?
Flavonoids are plant pigments. This means that they give plants their vibrant colour, whether they are yellow, orange, red or green.
How Apigenin in Parsley Can Help With Erectile Dysfunction
Parsley is an extremely good source of flavonoids which you can tell by its’ rich, deep green colour. The Greeks and Romans recognised that eating it would make both their breath and bodily fluids (such as sperm) smell sweeter.
Many studies have shown that erectile dysfunction and impotence are higher in men with high cholesterol levels. Cholesterol doesn’t just block blood vessels to the heart – it acts on all blood vessels and these blockages can lower the amount of blood that the penis needs to maintain an erection.
Flavonoids are known to reduce cholesterol so eating lots of fresh vegetable, fresh fruit and whole grains can help. Eating parsley with garlic is especially beneficial as it will reduce harmful cholesterols but raise the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol. Eating a tablespoon of chopped parsley and cilantro with every meal can be very beneficial.
Parsley is also a good source of Vitamin A which is known to be helpful to the circulatory system. Improving the efficiency of that system can help to improve erectile dysfunction.
Parsley Is an Aphrodisiac
The Chinese, Greeks and Romans all recognized the aphrodisiac properties of parsley and in particular, parsley seeds. The seeds stimulate the sexual organs which increases both sexual desire and virility.
Parsley seeds may also be helpful in reducing dependency on alcohol, which is another known factor in erectile dysfunction.
Apigenin Helps the Prostate
The flavonol apigenin is also known to be helpful in with prostate problems. The roots of parsley are very high in potassium which can prevent prostate enlargement. Parsley juice and juniper berries are also recognised as anti inflammatory.
How to Choose Parsley
There are three different varieties of fresh parsley. The two most easily available and most commonly used are curly and Italian flat leaf. Most people prefer the flat leaf as it has a lovely fresh smell and is not so bitter as the curly type. The third type is called turnip rooted (sometimes known as Hamburg). This is grown especially for its roots which taste like salsify or burdock.
Fresh Is Best
The best way to have parsley whenever you want it is to grow it either indoors or out.
If you’re going for store bought, then fresh parsley is always going to be better for you than dried – and it tastes a lot better too. Look for fresh parsley that is growing in a small plastic pot. Look for the one that is the deepest green and looks the most fresh and crisp.
Avoid bunches of cut parsley, especially if it looks wilted or yellow. This would mean that it is just too old or has been damaged.
If you really prefer dried herbs, choose flakes or powder that have been grown organically. This means they will be free from pesticides and radiation.
How to Store Parsley
Fresh parsley keeps well in the refrigerator. If it has wilted, run it under cold water, give it a shake or two and then store it in the refrigerator where it will crisp up again.
How to Preserve Parsley
If you have more flat leaf parsley than you are going to use, you can dry it out. Lay it in a single layer on a clean cloth or kitchen paper. Once it has dried, you can keep it in a sealed container in a cool, dark place.
Curly leaf parsley doesn’t dry well but it does freeze exceptionally well. It will keep most of its flavour but won’t be crisp. It may crumble in your hand. The best way to use it is to just add the frozen parsley to your recipe. Don’t attempt to thaw it out first.
How to Prepare Parsley
Fresh parsley is fragile so don’t wash it until you are just about to use it. Put it into a bowl of cold water and move it around very gently to dislodge any dirt. Take the parsley out, empty out the water, refill the bowl and swish the parsley again. Rinse and repeat until the water remains clear.
Tips on Cooking With Parsley
Italian flat leaf parsley has a stronger flavour than the curly type. This means that it holds its flavour better when cooking and why it is often used in spicy dishes.
Always add either type of parsley to your cooking right at the end of the cooking time. This will allow it to keep its flavour, colour and most importantly, its high nutritional and medicinal value.
If you’re making a light coloured sauce, such as a straightforward parley sauce that you want to be white with pretty green flecks, use the stems instead of the leaves. This means that your sauce will have a lovely parsley taste but won’t be green. If you don’t mind it being green, put the leaves in as well.
A Few Serving Suggestions to Get You Started
Sprinkle chopped parsley onto salads, sautéed vegetables and fish.
Mix chopped parsley with bulgur wheat, chopped scallions, mint leaves, lemon juice and olive oil. You’ve just made a classic Middle Eastern dish called Tabouleh.
Try adding chopped parsley to pesto sauce. This will give it more texture and boost its nutritional value.
Mix chopped parsley, crushed and chopped garlic and lemon zest. Rub it onto chicken, lamb or beef before cooking for a lovely herb crust.
Add chopped parsley to soups.
Add chopped parsley to tomato sauces for spaghetti Bolognese, lasagne etc
Make a simple, colourful and flavonoid rich salad of roughly chopped fennel, orange segments, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and torn parsley leaves.
Contra Indications to Eating Parsley
Parsley is one of very few foods that contain oxalates. These are substances that are naturally found in plants, animals and in human beings. If oxalate levels become too high in bodily fluids, they may crystallize which can cause problems with health.
If you have problems with your kidneys or gallbladder, we would advise you not to eat parsley.
Flavonoids are Essential for the Good Health of Men, Women and Children
They Protect the Structure of Your Cells
When consumed, flavonoids are very good antioxidants. This means that they neutralize molecules that contain oxygen but become too reactive. This is good because if a molecule becomes too active it can cause damage to cells.
They protect cell structure in many different ways but the most effective way they do this is by increasing levels of glutathione,  which in itself is a powerful antioxidant.
Oriental medicine has recognized the antioxidant properties of flavonoids for hundreds of years. They are used in foods such as licorice, cornus fruit and scultellaria root.
They Support Vitamin C
Like many of the best solutions, the relationship between flavonoids and Vitamin C was discovered by accident. A Nobel Prize winner, Dr Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, was preparing a Vitamin C preparation for a patient who had problems with their blood vessels. The final mixture that he gave to the patient was not 100% pure but it worked much better than Dr Szent-Gyorgyi was expecting it to.
Later, the Dr gave his patient some pure Vitamin C but it wasn’t anywhere near as effective. Luckily, he suspected that flavonoids were the addition to the first, successful preparation. He found that each substance in the preparation had improved the antioxidant behaviours of the other and now it is widely recognized that for Vitamin C to give an optimized performance, it requires the presence of flavonoids .
They Help With the Control of Inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to damage. Acute inflammation is self limiting and the body returns to its normal levels. However, prolonged inflammation needs to be regulated. This is because if the immune system is overactive it can give an unwanted response. There are many different types of cells used by the immune system such as T cells, B cells, NK Cells, mast cells and neutrophils. All of these have been shown to change how they behave when flavonoids are present.
Most of the different categories of flavonoid seem to play a key role in the prevention of excessive inflammation.
Inflammatory diseases include atherosclerosis, allergies (the result of an inappropriate immune response triggering inflammation), myopathies (caused by the immune system inappropriately attacking components of muscle) and cancers.
Inflammation is Linked to Depression
A recent study showed that there is evidence for a link between inflammation and depression . Inflammatory processes can be triggered by negative events such as stress, violence, or deprivation.
Apigenin can Fight Unwanted Inflammatory Diseases
A very recent study  concluded that apigenin showed enough important scientific evidence for it to be used as a therapeutic agent against unwanted inflammatory disease.
They Can Act Like Antibiotics
Flavonoids can mimic the behaviour of antibiotics by disrupting how micro organisms such as viruses and bacteria work. This has been shown with the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) and the HIV virus .
They May Fight Dementia and Parkinsons Disease
Flavonoids contained in berries may have a positive effect against Parkinson’s disease and may help to improve memory in elderly people .
Other Illnesses That Flavonoids Can Combat
Flavonoids can also help to prevent and treat asthma, atopic dermatitis, candida infections, cataracts, diabetes, gout, macular degeneration, migraines, periodontal (gum) disease, stomach ulcers and varicose veins.
Am I Eating Enough Flavonoids?
If you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables or you eat them but the ones you eat are highly processed, then you might be suffering from a flavonoid deficiency. The heat processing of food can eliminate flavonoids. The removal of fibrous and pulpy parts of fruit such as for smooth juices instead of those ‘with bits’ can also render the flavonoids inactive.
If you suffer from any of the following, you may need to increase your intake of flavonoids by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables –
Bruising too easily
Excessive swelling following an injury
Weakened immune system – indicated by frequent colds or infections
Which Foods Are a Good Source of Flavonoids?
Almost all fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids. They are also in beans and give dried red, black and speckled beans their colour. They are found in grains and give them their distinctive yellow colour. In fruits, berries have the highest amounts of flavonoid. Dark berries such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are especially flavonoid rich.
Green tea is a good souce of the components of flavonoids called catechins.
The general rule is that the more colourful the fruit, the higher the level of flavonoids. There are exceptions to this rule, such as the white pulp inside an orange which is often discarded. The orange flesh of an orange is full of Vitamin C but the flavonoids ae in the white pulp. Try and eat both as we have seen that the action of Vitamin C is vastly enhanced by flavonoids.
Flavonoids Are Also High In apples, apricots, black beans, cabbage, onions, parsley, pears, pinto beans, strawberries and tomatoes.
Herbs Are Rich in Flavonoids
Herbs are known to be a good source of flavonoids. The highest amounts ae found in parsley, thyme and peppermint. It is also in chamomile, horsetail, lemon balm, perilla, vervain and yarrow.
Can You Eat Too Many Flavonoids?
Flavonoids do not appear to have any toxic side effects. Even when eaten in very high amounts, such as 10% of a total daily intake, flavonoids do not appear to be harmful.
What Impact Does Cooking Have On Flavonoids?
Heat, the level of acidity and how highly foods have been processed can all have a detrimental effect on flavonoids. Fresh spinach leaves are a good source of flavonoids but boiling can cut the flavonoid content in half. Boiling onions will remove around 30% of them. Although most vegetables are high in flavonoids, overcooking can vastly reduce them and therefore reduce the nutritional benefit you would get from them.
The effects of Apigenin on Cancer
Apigenin has been cited as having an effect on cancer cells. That’s a hefty claim to make but there is scientific proof to back up these claims. Here are a few studies – with the results written in terms that the layman can understand.
Apigenin Can Slow Down the Growth of Cancer
A 2005 study  by researchers at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center of West Virginia University began a study in 2005 because
“Apigenin – a nontoxic dietary flavonoid – has been shown to possess anti tumour properties.”
Their study concluded that apigenin has a role in inhibiting the growth of cancer tumours.
Apigenin Can Stop Cancer Invading Other Tissues
A 2005 study  to investigate how apigenin worked to prevent cancer concluded that apigenin prevented tumour cells penetrating healthy tissue.
Apigenin May Be Able To Prevent Cervical Cancer
A 2005 study  found that apigenin slowed the growth of human cervical cancer cells. The researchers concluded “These findings suggest that apigenin has strong potential for development as an agent for preventing cervical cancer”.
Apigenin May Decrease the Risk of Developing Ovarian Cancer
A 2009 study  concluded that of 5 common flavonoids – myricetin, kaempferol, quercetin, luteolin and apigenin –
“only apigenin was associated with a suggestive decrease in ovarian cancer risk”.
Major Contra Indications for Consuming Apigenin when taking HRT
Doctors routinely prescribe hormone replacement medications and therapies (HRT) to women going through the menopause as these are known to reduce the unpleasant hot flashes and other uncomfortable symptoms. However, clinical studies on HRT have shown that taking synthetic hormones can be detrimental to women who may have a hormone dependent form of breast cancer. For that reason, they became increasingly wary about prescribing it.
In 2011, researchers at the University of Missouri found  that apigenin could reduce tumour growth in women who were receiving HRT. However, a new study (2013)  has shown that if a woman is taking progestin, the benefits of apigenin were reversed – leading to a higher incidence of cancerous tumours.
If you are currently taking HRT or you have breast cancer, do not take apigenin supplements before talking to your Doctor.
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