What Are The Health Benefits Of Cilantro?

Essential oils, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals compose the cilantro herb (also known as leaf-coriander

Cilantro nutrition facts

Cilantro herb is now one of the most popular Mediterranean herbs, which is commonly recognized as leaf-coriander in Asia. It is widely used in savory dishes in almost all parts of the world.

The herb carries many notable plant-derived chemical compounds that have shown disease-preventing and health-promoting properties. Cilantro or coriander plant is quite similar to the aromatic herb dill in terms of usefulness since both its leaves and seeds can be used in any cuisine.

Botanically, cilantro herb belongs to the family Apiaceae, genus Coriandrum. Its scientific name is: Coriandrum sativum.

Cilantro herb-Coriandrum sativum       

Cilantro herb features dark green, hairless, soft leaves that vary in shape, are broad-lobed near the base, and slender and feathery higher up near its flowering stems. Its leaves and stem possess slightly citric flavor.

Essential oils, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals compose the cilantro herb (also known as leaf-coriander

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Health benefits of cilantro (coriander leaves)

  • Cilantro herb is very low in calories and contains no cholesterol. However, its deep-green leaves possess good amounts of antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins, and dietary fiber, which may help reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol” levels in blood.
  • Its leaves and seeds contain many essential volatile oils such as borneol, linalool, cineole, cymene, terpineol, dipentene, phellandrene, pinene and terpinolene.
  • The leaves and stem tips are also rich in numerous anti-oxidant polyphenolic flavonoids such as quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin and epigenin.
  • The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is essential for red blood cell production. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
  • It is also rich in many vital vitamins, including folic-acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-A, beta carotene, vitamin-C, which are essential for optimal health. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant. 100 g of cilantro leaves provide 30% of daily recommended levels of vitamin-C.
  • It provides 6748 IU of vitamin-A per 100 g, about 225% of recommended daily intake. Vitamin-A, an important fat soluble vitamin and anti-oxidant, is also required for maintaining healthy mucosa and skin, and is essential for good eyesight. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin-A and flavonoids (carotenes) may help protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • Cilantro is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K; it provides about 258% of DRI. Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone-mass building through promotion of osteotrophic activity in the bones. It also has an established role in the treatment of patients with Alzheimer’s disease because it limits the neuronal damage in their brain.

Note well: Cilantro leaves provide only 23 calories/100 g, but their phyto-nutrients profile is no less than any superfoods around us!
This humble backyard herb provides (% of RDA/100g):

  • 15% of folates,
  • 11% of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine),
  • 45% of vitamin C,
  • 225% of vitamin A,
  • 258% of vitamin K,
  • 22% of iron and
  • 18% of manganese.
  • (Note: RDA-Recommended daily allowance).

Selection and storage

Try to buy fresh cilantro leaves from the local organic farms. Once at home, wash them in clean water, discard roots and old or bruised leaves. Fresh cilantro should be stored inside the refrigerator in a zip pouch or wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel.

Use it as early as possible since it loses flavor and nutrients quickly if kept for longer periods. Coriander seeds as well as its oil are also available in the markets. The seeds are basically used as spice.

Medicinal uses of cilantro

  • Leaves, root and stem of the cilantro (coriander) plant have been found to have anti-septic and carminative properties (relieving flatulence or colic by expelling gas).
  • The herb contains many phytochemical compounds. Its phenolic flavonoid antioxidants like quercitin and essential oils have found application in many traditional medicines as analgesic, aphrodisiac, antispasmodic, depurative, deodorant, digestive, fungicidal, lipolytic, stimulant and stomachic agents.

Culinary uses of cilantro

  • Cilantro (coriander) leaves have been used in preparation of many popular dishes in the Asian and in the East European cuisine since ancient times. When added in combination with other herbs and spices, it enhances flavor and taste of vegetables, chicken, fish and red meat dishes.
  • The herb is most often used in the preparation of soups and sauces. The popular Mediterranean cilantro pesto uses fresh cilantro, red pepper, garlic cloves, olive oil, pumpkin seeds and a few drops of fresh lemon juice. It is a great topping for pasta, sandwiches, or in a marinade for fish, poultry, etc.

Coriander seed powder is one of the main ingredients used in the preparation of garam masala powder as well.