Cilantro or Coriander as we popularly know is common to our kitchen. This herb is native to Eurasia and widely used globally. While Chinese parsley or dhania are some of its local names, scientifically it is Coriandrum sativum; herb of family Apiaceae. Leaves and fruits of this plant are more popular used in making food as spice or for garnishing. Cilantro is Spanish word for coriandrum or coriander. The word is derived from old French word – coriander or koriannon in Greek. References of coriander date back to 5000 B.C. suggesting ancient use of this herb.
What is cilantro – herb or spice? All most all parts of this plant right from root till seeds are used for various purposes. Coriander leaves are used as herb in flavoring and garnishing food. Coriander seeds find its place in category of spices. Whole or powdered coriander seeds are one commonly used spice in India.
Cilantro – Nutritional facts
Nutritional value of coriander leaves is very different from nutritional value of coriander seeds. Cilantro or coriander leaves are very good source of dietary fibers and various vitamins. It is excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin K. Coriander leaves are generally used in small quantities in food; however concentrated forms like coriander leave smoothie or juice are good source of these vitamins. Around 100 grams of coriander would supply nearly 4 times as much vitamin K and 1.5 times of Vitamin A required by average adult daily. It offers good amount of Folate, Riboflavin and Vitamin E. Green Coriander leaves are good source chlorophyll. It offers body with minerals like magnesium, manganese, copper and potassium.
Coriander seeds are storehouse of minerals like calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorus, potassium, Zinc, copper and selenium. Coriander seeds also bear about 20% fatty acids by weight, which includes mainly Petroselinic acid, oleic acid and linoleic acid.
Apart from these basic nutrients, both coriander leaves and seeds bear phytonutrients which offer medicinal benefits to body.
Health benefits of coriander
This herb has been traditionally used for various medicinal purposes. Apart from offering various vital nutrients, it has medicinal properties useful on various diseases. Some health benefits of coriander are discussed below.
Cilantro to detoxify your body
Most active research with coriander is its ability to detoxify the body. It helps in removal of toxic metals from the body including mercury, aluminum, lead and arsenic; all which can potentially cause cancer and severe damage to brain and nervous system. Try this coriander detox recipe at home. Wash a bunch of fresh organic cilantro to remove any dirt and harmful chemicals. Chop them finely. Boil them in water for 10 minutes. Once boiled, allow them to cool and sieve them. Consuming this filtered liquid or infusion of coriander leaves is good way to detox your kidney and liver. You may also try mint coriander juice as detox drink. Just blend coriander leaves with mint; add some lemon juice, Himalayan salt for taste.
Cilantro benefits heart
Coriander offers nutrients which offer to reduce bad cholesterol in blood and reduces risk of serious cardiovascular diseases. Consuming coriander is good way to reduce blood pressure. It offers body various minerals which are important for the functioning of the heart.
Chinese parsley for oral care
Coriander contains chemical called Citronelol which has good antiseptic properties. It also offers various phytochemcials which are good in treating mouth ulcers. It helps in removing bad breath. Traditionally chewing coriander seeds have been considered home remedy for bad breath.
Coriander for good digestion
Spices and herbs not only add flavor to food, but also promotes digestion. Coriander helps release of digestive enzymes in body which helps digestion and movement of food. It serves as carminative and digestive aid. Adding coriander to food is good way to avoid indigestion. A decoction made from coriander seeds has been used in treating indigestion and stomach troubles.
Ingredients of coriander are also good in treating and preventing diarrhea. It offers antimicrobial properties for keeping diarrhea caused by bacteria at bay. It is also helpful in relieving nausea, vomiting and symptoms of other gastric troubles. Coriander is found effective in protecting body from Salmonella bacteria which is common cause of food poisoning and other food borne disease.
Coriander over allergy
Coriander offers strong anti allergic properties and reduces symptoms of allergies. These allergies could be due to various reasons – viral, fungal, plants, insect bite, food or other substance. Rubbing coriander leaves on insect bite cools the region. Applying coriander juice to skin relieves allergic reactions like hives, swelling, etc. For anaphylaxis hives or swelling of throat coriander is consumed internally.
Coriander seeds good for bones
Coriander seeds offer good amount of minerals which are essential for bone health including calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. These minerals are essential for bone growth and bone density. Ensure that you have small amount of coriander seeds in your diet regularly.
Coriander for eye health
Coriander offers antioxidant properties which ward of free radicals and protect eye tissue from oxidative damage. It offers essential vitamin A and Vitamin E needed for healthy eye. It reduces risk of vision disorders, macular degeneration and cataract. It offers antimicrobial properties and is useful in prevention of eye infections like conjunctivitis.
Cilantro for diabetes
Cilantro offers good amount of fibers which is considered beneficial in diabetic food. Various phytonutritent present in coriander reduces blood sugar by stimulating secretion of insulin. Research has confirmed it insulin secreting properties in animal studies.
Coriander benefits for women
Coriander seeds have been long used by women to regulate menstruation. During menstruation, a tablespoon of coriander seeds are boiled with 2 cups of water. This drink is consumed along with some honey for taste. This drink helps to regulate menstrual cycle and reduce associated pain.
Benefits of coriander for skin
Coriandrum Sativum Oil / Coriander Fruit Oil finds its use in various cosmetic products including coriander bath soap, Coriander Seed Body Cleanser, coriander body scrub and others. Various phytochemcials in coriander offers anti-inflammatory property. It reduces swelling of skin and eases any discomfort. It offers anti-microbial properties protecting the skin from various diseases including eczema, skin dryness and fungal infections. As an antioxidant, it protects skin from oxidative stress and reduces signs of aging. Coriander leaves are wonderful detoxifier. It removes various toxins from body which results in skin problems.
Try this homemade coriander scrub for good looking skin. Mix two teaspoon coriander seed powder, with 1 tsp lemon and 1 tsp honey. Coriander seeds are effective over treating pimples, acne and blackhead. You may also try homemade face mask with coriander leaves paste, honey and turmeric. Coriander juice also offers benefits for lips and used as home remedy for dark lips. Coriander juice with half its quantity lemon juice is applied to lips regularly at night for a fortnight for pink lips.
Cilantro benefits hair
Cilantro offers various minerals which are helpful for growth of skin. It contains good amount of zinc and copper which reduces hair loss. Coriander seed oil along with coconut oil can be applied to scalp for healthy hair. It prevents hair loss and stimulates growth of hair. Coriander juice can be consumed for promoting growth of hair.
Coriander and cancer cures
Various studies are active in area of antioxidant and anticancer properties of various parts of coriander. A particular study has found that coriander root offers excellent antioxidant and anticancer properties. Further research in this area is promising and suggests use of coriander for treatment of cancer.
Cilantro as aphrodisiac
Various ancient Greek and Egyptian literature talk about aphrodisiacal properties of coriander. It is believed to increase man’s libido and potency. Ancient Chinese have also valued such properties of coriander. However there are no scientific evidence confirming such property.
Other health benefits of cliantro
Coriander seeds are used in Ayurveda as diuretic. It helps in removal of water from body and increases urination. Coupled with detoxification properties of coriander, this makes it good for kidney. In Iran, Coriander is used as folk medicine to relieve anxiety and sleeplessness. Coriander offers various other medicinal properties which have been traditionally known but not much scientific evidence is available.
Any side effects of cilantro
This food is widely used and doesn’t have any potential side effects. Taste of coriander is not palatable to few people who have different taste response to its phytochemcials. Excessive consumption of coriander may cause your skin to be sensitive to sunlight.
Why do some people don’t like coriander? You may blame this on genetics. Some people absolutely hate coriander. Research shows that clinatro has group of chemicals – unsaturated aldehydes, which tastes like soap for some people having a particular gene.
Coriander is known with various names globally. Being similar to parsley, it is called Mexican parsley, Chinese parsley, Japanese parsley or dizzy corn. It is known as Daun ketumbar (leaves), ketumbar (seed) in Malaysia, Ketumbar in Indonesia, Nannambin or nannamzee in Burma, Phak hom pom in Laos, Pak chee in Thailand, Kottamalli in Sri Lanka, Hsiang tsai, yen-sui, yuen sai, yuin si tsoi in China. In Arabic language coriander means Kizbara. It is known by various names in India – Dhania (Hindi), Kothimbir or Dhane (Marathi) and Kothamilee (Tamil). Europeans know it by Coriandre (French), Koriander (German), Coriandolo (Italian) and Cilantro or cilantro (Spanish)
This small herb offers great benefits to us. Ensure healthy recipes with coriander to enjoy health benefits of coriander.
Enjoy this healthy coriander reicipe – Kothimbir vadi or coriander fritter:
Mix together 2 cups of freshly chopped coriander leaves, 3-5 green chillies, a cup of gram flour / besan, 2 tablespoon of yoghurt, some salt, 1 tsp of turmeric and 2 tsp of jaggery. Add some water slowly to make a thick batter. Pour this batter in butter grease plate such that batter is a inch thick. Steam this batter until cooked for about 20 minutes. Allow the tray to cool and cut in diamond shaped bars. Garnish this bars with seasoning made of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafetida, sesame seeds and curry leaves in some oil. Also garnish with some grated coconut.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Thamizhpparithi Maari, Pixabay