Closely resembling the taste of parsley and anise, chervil (also known as French Parsley) is one of the fines herbes that is widely used in the French cuisine for its ability to add a savory, delectable flavor to fish and poultry dishes. This herb is native to Caucasus before the Romans introduced it to Europe, where it immediately became popular. It has small white flowers and green, feathery leaves that look like parsley leaves.
Like every other herb, chervil is not limited to its culinary use because it also has plenty of health benefits. In folk medicine, it is used to relieve digestive problems, lower high blood pressure, and soothe joint pain.
History of Chervil
The use of chervil dates back to the time of the birth of Jesus. Chervil contains essential oils that are similar to those mentioned in the Bible: the myrrh. This oil was one of the three gifts brought by the three wise men during their visit to the baby Jesus, which was why the Romans once called this herb ‘myrrhis’. Because of this, the Europeans believed that Chervil symbolizes birth and new life. It has been a practice among churches to serve delicious chervil soup during Maundy Thursday.
Chervil was also cultivated for its medicinal qualities. Pliny the Elder, a Roman scholar, used chervil to treat various health problems such as colds and stomachaches. The seventeenth-century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper also believed in the medicinal benefits of chervil. He wrote about this herb, saying that it “does much please and warm old and cold stomach”.
Today, chervil is widely used in French dishes as a tasty combination of cheese, egg, butter, and potato. It is also blended with parsley, tarragon, and chives to create ravigote sauce which is served over poultry or fish. Chervil also makes salmon, trout, and spring greens salad even more delicious and can be used to garnish some dishes beautifully.
Chervil Nutrition Facts
For every 28 grams (1 ounce) of dried chervil leaves, you will get the following nutrients:
- 4 Calories (3% Daily Value)
- 41.4 From Carbohydrate
- 9.1 From Fat
- 15.9 From Protein
- 7 grams Total Carbohydrate (5% Daily Value)
- grams Dietary Fiber (13% Daily Value)
- 1 grams Total Fat (2% Daily Value)
- grams Saturated Fat (0% Daily Value)
- 0.4 grams Unsaturated Fat
- grams Polyunsaturated Fat (0% Daily Value)
- 504 milligrams Total Omega-6 Fatty Acids
- 5 grams Protein (13% Daily Value)
- 1638 IU Vitamin A (33% Daily Value)
- 0 milligrams Vitamin C (23% Daily Value)
- 1 milligrams Thiamin (7% Daily Value)
- 2 milligrams Riboflavin (11% Daily Value)
- 5 milligrams Niacin (8% Daily Value)
- 3 milligrams Vitamin B6 (13% Daily Value)
- 7 micrograms Folate (19% Daily Value)
- 0 micrograms Vitamin B12 (0% Daily Value)
- 377 milligrams Calcium (38% Daily Value)
- 9 milligrams Iron (50% Daily Value)
- 4 milligrams Magnesium (9% Daily Value)
- 126 milligrams Phosphorous (13% Daily Value)
- 1327 milligrams Potassium (38% Daily Value)
- 2 milligrams Sodium (1% Daily Value)
- 5 milligrams Zinc (16% Daily Value)
- 1 milligrams Copper (6% Daily Value)
- 6 milligrams Manganese (21%Daily Value)
- 2 micrograms Selenium (12% Daily Value)
- 0 grams Water
Top 10 Health Benefits of Chervil
Protects against neurological disorders
Along with parsley and tarragon, chervil is rich in the flavonoid apigenin, which protects the brain from neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s by preventing free radical buildup and neurotoxicity. It also helps heal memory impairments and improves learning and memory capabilities.
Maintains eye health
Lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin A are antioxidants that can be found in chervil. These antioxidants play beneficial roles in eye health such as maintaining a clear vision, preventing and treating age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and retinitis pigmentosa.
Cleanses the excretory system
Since chervil possesses diuretic properties, consuming this herb regularly cleanses the kidneys and bladder by stimulating the production of urine. This way, the bacteria and waste products in the excretory organs will be flushed out of the body.
Cures skin diseases
The anti-inflammatory properties of chervil make it an effective treatment for some skin diseases such as eczema, acne vulgaris, varicose veins, and hemorrhoid. Using chervil leaves to treat minor wounds will also prevent it from scarring and becoming infected.
Aids in proper digestion
Chervil is an excellent source of dietary fiber, so eating this regularly will cleanse the gut and aid in the proper digestion of food. Through this, many gastrointestinal problems such as indigestion, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome are avoided.
Treats oral problems
The essential oil eugenol that is abundant in chervil exhibits antiseptic and anesthetic properties that have been used in dentistry as a local anesthesia. Chervil is also used to treat tooth and gum diseases.
Lowers blood sugar levels
Aside from treating dental problems, eugenol has also been found to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes mellitus. It also improves the body weight and hepatic glycogen content at the same time.
Relieves joint pain
The health benefits of eugenol found in chervil does not stop there – the anti-inflammatory properties of eugenol relieve the pain and discomfort in the joints caused by rheumatism and arthritis.
Regulates blood pressure
Chervil contains plenty of minerals such as calcium, manganese, iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium. Potassium helps lower the blood pressure by neutralizing the negative effects of sodium in the body. It also helps the kidney in controlling the amount of bodily fluids, which is another factor that increases blood pressure.
The B-vitamins (riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, and pyridoxine) are all important in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These vitamins also improves the body’s nutrient absorption abilities.
Potential Side Effects of Chervil
- Chervil is safe when consumed in amounts that are normally used in cooking. However, there is insufficient information regarding its safety when taken as a medicine in higher doses.
- For pregnant and breastfeeding women, it is highly discouraged to take chervil in medicinal amounts since it has chemicals that can cause mutation (or the alteration of the genes) to the fetus. Consult your physician before attempting to consume chervil in high doses.
- As with the other members of the plant family Apiaceae, chervil can cause strimmer dermatitis when it comes in contact to the skin of those who are allergic to it.
Chervil Fun Facts
- During the Middle Ages, it was believed that eating a whole chervil plant cures hiccups. This remedy is still being practiced in some parts of the world today.
- The people living in some parts of Europe would eat chervil every Maundy Thursday since they believed it had blood-cleansing and restorative properties, which became more potent during this day.
- Because this herb has become very common, chervil can simply be found along the roadside and in the wild throughout Europe.
- Chervil was once used in folk medicine as an ingredient in eyewash, which brightens up and refreshes the eyes.
- Gardeners and farmers plant chervil around their vegetable garden to bait the slugs, since they are said to be attracted to the plant.
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