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Cilantro Benefits – 8 Reasons to Eat More Cilantro

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 05/09/2024

Cilantro isn’t just a leafy herb that brightens dishes with its vibrant green color. This aromatic plant is also a rich source of nutrients with various health-promoting properties.  


Discover eight cilantro benefits for your health and well-being. 


Women chopping cilantro

What is cilantro?


Cilantro, also known as Chinese parsley or coriander leaves, refers to the fresh leaves and stems of the Coriandrum sativum plant.


Cilantro is a versatile herb that has been valued for its unique flavor and medicinal properties for thousands of years. 


Fresh cilantro features a bright, full-bodied, citrusy flavor with notes of pepper and mint. 


It adds depth and freshness to many traditional dishes worldwide and is commonly used in Indian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Mexican cuisine.


Interestingly, a small percentage of the population has a genetic disposition which enhances their sensitivity to the aldehyde content of cilantro. These people tend to experience the cilantro plant as having an unpalatable, soapy smell and flavor.


Watch the video below to learn why you should regularly consume cilantro. 

Cilantro nutrition facts


Despite its modest calorie content, cilantro is a nutritional powerhouse. 


A four-gram serving of cilantro provides:

  • ​​Vitamin A (RAE): 13.5 micrograms 

  • Vitamin C: 1.08 milligrams 

  • Vitamin K: 12.4 micrograms

  • Calcium: 2.68 milligrams 

  • Magnesium: 1.04 milligrams

  • Phosphorus: 1.92 milligrams

  • Potassium: 20.8 milligrams

  • Folate: 2.48 micrograms


The high nutrient content of cilantro makes it an excellent ally for supporting overall health, demonstrating that even small additions of fresh herbs can significantly impact your nutrient intake.



Cilantro vs. coriander 


Cilantro and coriander are common names for different parts of the Coriandrum sativum plant. 


Cilantro usually refers to the leaves and stems, while coriander refers to the seeds, although it’s common for the leaves to be called coriander leaves.


Both cilantro and coriander seeds have benefits in culinary practices and health.


Cilantro

Top 8 benefits of cilantro


The powerful nutrient composition of the Coriandrum sativum plant not only adds flavor to your favorite recipes but also offers an abundance of health benefits.


Here are eight cilantro benefits that can help support overall health. 


1. Antioxidant properties 

Cilantro is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and phenolic compounds that defend the body against free radicals. These volatile metabolic by-products trigger oxidative stress linked to cell damage and the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.


2. Weight management

A study published in Molecules found that polyphenol-rich extracts derived from coriander may help manage or prevent obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.


The authors found that coriander extract can contribute to a reduction in body fat by enhancing lipid breakdown and inhibiting the formation of new fat cells.


Additionally, coriander improved insulin sensitivity and lowered blood glucose levels, which are critical factors in managing obesity and associated metabolic disorders.


Detox written in vegetables

3. Promotes detoxification

Coriander seeds help support the body's natural detoxification processes. 


As Dr. Berg explains, "A primary benefit of cilantro is its ability to effectively detox the body from heavy metals such as aluminum, mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium." 


Evidence published in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine found that coriander seed extract significantly decreased levels of heavy metals, specifically lead, in the blood and brain tissue.


In addition, its ability to reduce oxidative stress associated with lead exposure underscored the potential of the cilantro plant in helping to prevent lead-induced neurotoxicity.


4. Supports bone health 

The significant amount of vitamin K in cilantro supports bone formation and mineral density, which are critical factors in preventing conditions related to bone loss, such as osteoporosis.


5. Enhances digestive health

Incorporating cilantro into your diet can help speed up digestion by promoting the production of digestive enzymes needed for optimal digestive processes. 


It also contains antispasmodic properties that help relax the gastrointestinal tract muscles, which can reduce intestinal cramping and abdominal discomfort. 


Woman with food poisoning

6. Antimicrobial activity

Research published in Foods found that antioxidants in coriander essential oil could inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, including Bacillus subtilis and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia


Other studies found that the antimicrobial activity of coriander oil was also effective against microbes such as E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, often associated with food poisoning.


These findings support the notion that coriander essential oil may effectively prevent food spoilage and foodborne illnesses. 


Additionally, the antibacterial properties of the Coriandrum sativum plant can be utilized to enhance skin health by potentially reducing acne and skin inflammation.


7. Promotes blood sugar balance 

A study published in Bioinformation investigated the effectiveness of cilantro extract and fenugreek extract in diabetes and blood sugar management, focusing on obese rats with high blood sugar levels.


The combination of the two extracts significantly lowered blood sugar levels, closely mirroring the effects of the common blood sugar medication glibenclamide.


8. Mental health benefits

The antioxidant activity of cilantro, combined with its high folate content, can help support neurological function. This may play an essential role in preventing nerve cell damage linked to neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.


Moreover, research published in Molecules showed that cilantro’s rich content of bioactive metabolites, such as terpenes and flavonoids, counteract effects associated with central nervous system disorders such as depression and epilepsy.


In addition, while evidence in humans is limited, the linalool found in cilantro may have a calming effect, potentially benefiting those with anxiety and sleep disorders.


Cilantro coriander seeds and powder

Tips for selection, storage, and use


When shopping for cilantro, there are several tips you can employ to help enhance the quality and longevity of this health-promoting herb. 


How to select cilantro 

To maximize health benefits and flavor, choose organic cilantro. Organic certification ensures the herbs are grown without synthetic pesticides or herbicides that can be harmful to your health.


Fresh cilantro has the best taste and highest nutrient content. Look for cilantro with vibrant green leaves that show no signs of wilting or yellowing. Leaves should be free from dark spots or decay, and stems should be firm, not limp or slimy.


If you plan to use coriander seeds, opt for whole seeds over powdered options for a longer-lasting flavor. Fresh seeds should be a warm, tan to light brown color, round, and smooth, indicating they are not old or stale. 


Whole seeds maintain their essential oils and flavor longer than ground varieties and can easily be ground at home as needed for peak freshness and aroma.


Fresh herbs preserved in water

Coriander storage

Proper storage is essential to extend the freshness and usability of cilantro and coriander. 


After washing and drying your cilantro, wrap it gently in a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. 


Then, encase it in aluminum foil, ensuring it's loosely wrapped to allow for some air circulation, and store it in the refrigerator's crisper drawer to maintain freshness for up to two weeks. 


Alternatively, you can store coriander using the jar method.


Begin by trimming the ends of the cilantro stems. Place the stems in a jar partially filled with water, ensuring no leaves are submerged to prevent wilting. Cover the top with a loose plastic bag and store it in the fridge. 


Refresh the water every two or three days to keep the cilantro crisp and fresh, which helps extend its life for up to three weeks. 


When it comes to dried herbs like coriander seeds, it's best to keep them in a clean, airtight container free of moisture and store them in a cool, dark place to maintain shelf life. 


How to use coriander

Coriander seeds and cilantro leaves are versatile culinary ingredients that enhance various dishes. 


Whole coriander seeds can be used in pickling or brining solutions, adding a distinct taste to vegetables and meats.


Ground coriander, with its warm and spicy notes, is perfect for enriching spice blends, curries, marinades, soups, and stews. 


Additionally, freshly chopped cilantro leaves are an excellent garnish to add a burst of color and flavor.


Chopped cilantro with other herbs

Cilantro recipe ideas


With the widespread use of the cilantro plant among various cultures, there is an array of diverse and delicious recipes that incorporate this versatile herb.


Here are delicious recipes that pair perfectly with the refreshing flavor of cilantro:

  1. Keto Tex-Mex casserole 

  2. Vegan avocado toast 

  3. Keto Thai chicken coconut red curry 

  4. Keto tacos 

  5. Keto curry beef and cauliflower 

Exclamation mark

Possible downsides of cilantro


While cilantro offers numerous health benefits, it also has potential downsides.


Cilantro can cause allergic reactions such as skin irritations or digestive issues, particularly in individuals sensitive to plants of the Apiaceae family, which includes celery, carrots, and parsley. 


Additionally, since cilantro can lower blood sugar levels, individuals with hypoglycemia should exercise caution and avoid excessive intake. 


In light of these potential issues, it’s recommended to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice before adding cilantro to your diet. 


Fresh cilantro and coriander seeds

Key takeaways


The list of cilantro benefits extends well beyond its culinary applications. 


Cilantro is loaded with antioxidants and other beneficial compounds that aid in digestive health, support weight management, offer detoxification support, enhance bone health, help maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and support mental health. 



FAQ


1. What are the top cilantro benefits?

There are many health benefits of cilantro. It’s a rich source of antioxidants, supports digestive health, and promotes bone health, 


In addition, cilantro has been linked to healthy blood sugar control and weight management and enhances detoxification processes. 


2. Can you eat cilantro every day?

Yes, you can eat cilantro every day in moderation. Cilantro is low in calories and contains several essential vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy addition to your diet.


However, individuals with low blood sugar should be cautious as cilantro can have a blood sugar-lowering effect.


3. Is cilantro from the same plant as coriander? 

While cilantro usually refers to the fresh leaves of the Coriandrum sativum plant, the seeds are called coriander. 


4. Why does cilantro taste like soap to me?

A unique genetic trait in some individuals heightens their sensitivity to cilantro's aldehydes, causing them to perceive its taste and smell as soap-like and unpleasant.


5. Is cilantro good for your liver?

Yes, incorporating cilantro into your diet can positively impact liver health.


Cilantro is abundant in vital antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavonoids, which help protect the liver from oxidative stress and promote detoxification processes.

 

6. Is cilantro better raw or cooked?

Cilantro contains heat-sensitive nutrients such as vitamin C, and cooking cilantro can diminish its nutrient content. The potency of coriander oil can also be reduced or altered through cooking. 


7. Does cilantro help with detoxification?

Yes, cilantro contains compounds such as polyphenols recognized for their potential to support the body's natural detoxification process.



Sources


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10220854/ 

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8588955/

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7142854/ 

  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31831953/ 

  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10385770/ 


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