Cilantro is a fragrant herb from the fresh leaves of the coriander plant also known by the scientific name Coriandrum sativum. Cilantro belongs to the parsley family and in fact, cilantro looks like flat-leaf parsley that grows on long and tender stems.
The herb is widely used in cuisines and is more popular in Central American, Middle East, and Asia.
It is mostly consumed fresh because the dried variety is not friendly in terms of mixing well with food.
Fresh cilantro has a pungent, lemon, and peppery taste. Some people say; that cilantro tastes soapy and this taste is linked to the natural aldehyde chemical in the leaves produced during the making of soap. The soapy taste diminishes when the leaves are cooked or dried.
Is coriander the same as cilantro?
Cilantro and coriander come from the same plant species which is Coriandrum sativum.
The word cilantro is a Spanish word for coriander leaves and the dried seeds of the same plant are known as coriander.
Internationally, cilantro is the name for the leaves and stalks of the plant while the seeds are called coriander seeds.
In this article, I will use the terms cilantro and coriander interchangeably to mean the leaves and seeds respectively. But all of them coming from the same plant.
Despite the fact that cilantro and coriander seeds come from the same plant, they have different nutritional values, tastes, uses, and health benefits.
Cilantro is rich in vitamins such as A, K, and E while coriander seeds have more minerals like manganese, iron, magnesium, and calcium.
What are the health benefits of cilantro?
The leaves of coriander or cilantro contain huge amounts of vitamins A, C, and K which contribute to its health benefits. Additionally, cilantro has folate, potassium, and manganese.
Has cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Cilantro has got several antioxidants that can prevent free radicals from causing damage. The antioxidants include terpinene, quercetin, and tocopherols. These antioxidants’ are responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of cilantro.
From a test-tube study by PubMed, it was found that coriander seed extract lowered inflammation and slowed the growth of certain cancers. The cancer types include prostate, breast, and colon cancer.
2. Cilantro can improve heart health.
Cilantro has diuretic properties that help flush out excess sodium and water which may lower high blood pressure.
Basing on the study by PubMed, it was found out that cilantro exhibits gut modulatory, blood pressure-lowering, and diuretic activities. Lowering high blood pressure reduces stress on the heart which promotes health.
Some research also suggests that cilantro can help lower cholesterol levels as well. Since high cholesterol levels can cause accumulation of fat deposits on the walls of arteries. Therefore, by reducing cholesterol levels you will be able to have smooth blood flow and reducing the risk of heart disease.
In a study done on rats, it was found out that rats that were given coriander seeds had a decrease in bad cholesterol and an increase in good cholesterol.
Read also: The best spices for heart health
3. Cilantro can improve brain health.
Several studies and research have connected cilantro to reduced symptoms of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkison’s disease.
Since most brain diseases are associated with inflammation, cilantro’s anti-inflammatory properties can help reverse or improve the symptoms. Cilantro extract is also believed to reduce seizure attacks and prevent nerve cell damage.
4. Cilantro helps with proper digestion and gut health.
The use of cilantro can promote proper digestion and prevent gas, bloating, and indigestion. It also gives relief to stomach aches and cramping.
It stimulates digestive enzymes to create a proper digestive environment as well as easy absorption of nutrients from the food eaten.
Cilantro is also an excellent remedy for irritable bowel syndrome(IBS). According to a study, 32 patients with irritable bowel syndrome were given 30 drops of coriander -containing herbs medication 3 times every day. The pain decreased as well as bloating and discomfort compared to the people who didn’t take the medication.
For more information on gut health read Herbs and spices for gut health.
5. Antifungal properties.
Cilantro has antifungal properties and therefore can fight against fungal infections.
With evidence from a study carried out by PubMed, with an aim of investigating the antifungal activity of coriander on a fungal infection candida, it was found out that cilantro inhibited the growth of the yeast cells that cause candida.
Additionally, cilantro contains antimicrobial compounds that help to fight infections and foodborne illness.
According to Healthline, Dodecenal, a compound in coriander, may fight bacteria like Salmonella, which can cause life-threatening food poisoning and affect 1.2 million people annually in the United States.
6. Cilantro can protect the skin.
The use of cilantro can help protect the skin against sun damage and mild rashes such as dermatitis.
A study done by NCBI proved that cilantro can treat diaper rash in infants as it has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-microbial, and antioxidant properties that work upon the rash.
On the other side, regular use of cilantro increases the body’s immunity against cellular damage which can lead to accelerated skin aging and damage from UV radiation.
Additionally, people use cilantro leaf juice to get rid of acne, pigmentation, oiliness, dryness, and other skin conditions.
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7. Cilantro can lower high blood sugar.
High blood sugar being a risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity, a natural remedy that can lower it is a blessing. Cilantro extract, oils, and leaves can lower blood sugar. For those taking diabetes medication take cilantro as a supplement.
Studies done on animals indicate that cilantro can reduce high blood sugar by promoting enzyme activity that helps remove excess sugar in the body. From a study done on rats that were fed on a high-fat cholesterol diet. Cilantro showed decreased rates of glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis.
What are the side effects of cilantro?
Usually, cilantro has no side effects when taken by mouth in food amounts. Side effects arise when cilantro is misused, overdosed, or to a certain group of people with medical conditions. The side effects may include;
- Severe diarrhea.
- Stomach pain and complications.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Cilantro can cause itching when it gets into contact with the skin.
- Tp people who have got allergies to cilantro or parsley related herbs, facial swelling, itching, and throat swelling may arise when cilantro is eaten.
Special precautions and warnings.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Nothing much is known about cilantro on breasting feeding or pregnant mothers but just like other herbs cilantro may cause complications. It is therefore recommended to avoid using more than food amounts of cilantro.
Bleeding disorders or surgery: Cilantro might slow blood clotting and can pose a risk to people with bleeding disorders especially when used in large amounts. It is also advised to stop the use of cilantro weeks before and after surgery to be on the safe side.
Ways to use cilantro.
Cilantro can be used in various ways and the popular ones include;
- Fresh leaves of cilantro are put into curries, soups, and other dishes. Although both the leaves and stems are edible, it’s the leaves that are mostly used because the stems are thicker and have a bitter taste.
- Fresh and chopped cilantro leaves are sprinkled on dishes and food to add a fresh flavor to the food.
- Cilantro can be used to season meat and fish.
- The herb can be added to rice for extra flavor.
- It can be used to prepare salad dressings.
- Fresh cilantro leaves can also be used to spice pasta.
- Cilantro can also be used to make cilantro tea when it is mixed in hot water and boiled to make an herbal tea with a lot of health benefits.
- For people who can stand the bitter taste, cilantro can be used to make smoothies that have a lot of health benefits.
Is cilantro good for weight loss?
The claims of cilantro promoting weight loss are not backed by scientific data. However, several studies suggest that the herb has weight loss properties.
To start with, cilantro is low in calories and since weight loss requires burning more calories than you consume, eating foods with low calories can help you meet a calorie deficit easily.
On the other said, cilantro’s ability to promote proper digestion and increased assimilating of essential nutrients from ingested food can help you shed off excess weight.
Cilantro has a compound called quercetin that can boost metabolism. The faster the metabolism, the more calories you can burn.
Lastly, cilantro is a good source of fiber. Fiber can help keep satisfaction longer. When you are satisfied, you will not crave for foods and you are most likely to eat less on your next meal.
Summary: weight loss doesn’t come overnight. You have to create a calorie deficit whereby you burn more calories than you consume. cilantro may not help if you don’t exercise but instead consume more calories.
To learn more on weight loss, www.foreversuperslim is a mice website with weight loss related content that will help you get rid of that excess fat and to live a healthy life.
The bottom line.
Cilantro will be healthy when eaten in food amounts and it may pose a threat when consumed in huge amounts. In order to use cilantro for medical purposes consult your doctor to see if it is safe.
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