Cilantro: Important Facts, Health Benefits, and Recipes

Cilantro is a plant from the Apiaceae family, which carrots, celery, and parsley also come from. There are many benefits to adding cilantro to your diet, including it being an anti-inflammatory. This article highlights more health benefits and important facts about cilantro and includes many recipes that use cilantro.

What Is Cilantro?

  • Cilantro is a plant from the Apiaceae family (and the Coriandrum sativum plant), which carrots, celery, and parsley also come from
  • The entire plant is edible: the leaves as we know them in the US as cilantro and the seeds as we know them as coriander
  • Some cultures call the leaves coriander
  • The tannish-brown seeds have a sweetly aromatic flavor which is slightly lemony.

Is Cilantro Good For You?

Yes! There are many benefits to adding cilantro to your diet. One benefit is that it is so flavorful that typically people consume less salt when eating cilantro which is better for blood pressure and heart health.

Health Benefits Of Cilantro

  1. Cilantro has been found to be an anti-inflammatory
  2. Cilantro and coriander seeds may help boost heart health
  3. Cilantro has been found to help people who get migraine headaches
    1. A study of people with migraines: half the group took migraine medication and coriander fruit syrup and the other half took just the migraine medication. 
    2. Result: the group who took the coriander fruit syrup and medication had reduced severity, duration, and frequency of migraines 
  4. Coriander seeds may help lower blood sugar
  5. Coriander seeds are high in antioxidants
  6. Cilantro may help lower blood pressure, partly because of its diuretic components
  7. Coriander seeds may help lower cholesterol
  8. Cilantro protect brain health and improve memory
  9. May help digestion and gut health
    1. There was a study of people with IBS. Some people took a supplement with coriander extract and some people took a placebo. After 8 weeks, the coriander group had reduced severity and frequency of IBS symptoms.
  10. It is a natural preservative for food because it is antimicrobial and may help fight foodborne illnesses caused from bacteria like Salmonella.
  11. Coriander extract may help prevent damage from UV rays to the skin.

History, Background, and General Facts About Cilantro

  • Also known as Chinese parsley, Mexican parsley, or dhania
  • Some cultures call the leaves coriander
  • Most people experience cilantro as a refreshing lemony and peppery flavor, but a certain percentage of people think the leaves taste like dish soap, which some say is genetic.
  • Cilantro is native to regions spanning from Southern Europe and Northern Africa to Southwestern Asia
  • Talk of cilantro began in ancient texts from India, Egypt, Rome, and China
  • Folklore says it was grown in Persia 3,000 years ago and used to fragrance the hanging gardens of Babylon. 
  • It is still used in tonics and cough medicines in India.

What Are The Cuisines That Regularly Include Cilantro?

  • Portuguese - bread and cilantro soup
  • Indian - cilantro to garnish many dishes and cilantro-mint sauce for samosas and coriander ground as a spice in blends
  • Mexican - garnish for tacos and salads and an addition to guacamole
  • Argentinian - chimichurri
  • Thai - garnish and in salads and Thai chicken
  • Middle Eastern - zhoug (a spicy cilantro sauce made with jalapeno peppers)
  • Moraccan - chermoula (a cilantro sauce made with spices and lemon)
  • Puerto Rican - sofrito

What Is The Best Way To Store Cilantro?

  • Snip the bottoms of each stem and place the entire bunch in a glass of water and refrigerate. This keeps the leaves for 1 to 2 weeks.
  • For the dried seeds, store in a cool dry place (like a pantry) away from heat and light.

What Are The Different Types Of Cilantro?

  • Leaf cilantro is the main variety we see in the groceries in the US. There are different kinds of leaf parsley (Long Standing, Leisure, and Jantar). 

 

  • Coriander, the seeds of cilantro, come from the leaf cilantro.

Toxicity and Side Effects Of Cilantro

Consuming the leaves, stems, and seeds of cilantro is considered safe to consume unless you have an allergy to the plant. Consult your physician if you want to take cilantro (coriander) supplements.

Nutrition information is for 1/2 cup fresh cilantro.