Herbs and Spices

Coriander (cilantro) – Nutritional value and Medicinal uses

Coriander, cilantro, or Chinese parsley, is a herb that belongs to the botanical family Apiaceae. Many people across the world use it particularly in treating digestive problems such as diarrhea, stomach upset, loss of appetite, and nausea. Other popular medicinal applications of this wonderful herb include treatment of hemorrhoids, joint pain, toothaches, and also measles.

Scientific name – Coriandrum sativum

Botanical family – Apiaceae

Origin and description

The origin of coriander has been very difficult to trace, as it grows wild over a wide area including Western Asia and Southern Europe. Also, the Greece was said to have been cultivating coriander since at least the second millennium BC. Moreover, there was also a proof that even the ancient Egyptians cultivated this wonderful herb.

Coriander grows up to 50 cm in height. It possess variably shaped leaves, which are broadly lobed at the base of the plant. It’s flowers are borne in small umbels, which bears their schizocarp fruits.

Coriander uses

The whole coriander plant is edible, but the parts used the most are the seeds and fresh leaves. It is used in cooking different kinds of cuisines throughout the world. Its fresh leaves forms an integral part of many South Asian foods; including the Thai and Chinese dishes. The Mexicans use it in cooking salsa, and also as an important garnishing agent. The Indians use coriander to garnish their dishes such as dal.

The leaves of coriander are mostly eaten raw, and are added to dishes immediately before serving. This is because the leaves tend to loose their flavor upon heating.

Coriander leaves nutritional value / properties per 100 g (USDA) – Quick overview

  • 92.21 g of water
  • 3.67 g of carbohydrates (dietary fiber – 2.8 g, sugars – 0.87 g)
  • 0.52 g of fat
  • 2.13 g of proteins
  • 337 μg of vitamin A equiv.
  • 27 mg of vitamin C
  • 2.5 mg of vitamin E
  • 310 μg of vitamin K
  • 67 mg of calcium
  • 1.77 mg of iron
  • 0.426 mg of manganese
  • 521 mg of potassium

The above nutritional overview shows that of coriander leaves, which is quite different from its seeds and stems. The leaves are quite rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K (providing up to 295% of the daily recommended intake of this vitamin). Other vitamins and minerals present in significant amounts include vitamin E, folates, calcium, iron, manganese, and potassium. A 100 g of fresh coriander leaves provides 23 kcal of energy, and contains more than 92% water.

coriander-medicinal-uses

 

Coriander medicinal uses / health benefits

 

  • Reduces Blood pressure

Hypertensive patients could lower their blood pressure through the use of coriander. Many researches have proven this fact, although most of them were in animals. A research showed how consumption of coriander helped reduce the arterial blood pressure significantly in anesthetized animals (1).

High blood pressure must be avoided at all cost, as it can lead to serious cardiovascular conditions such as stroke and heart attack. So, by regulating your blood pressure, you are not only avoiding hypertension, but also these serious conditions that follow it closely.

  • Controls Diabetes

Coriander has been proven by so many scientific researches to lower blood sugar level. Its effect in lowering blood sugar level is so strong that medical professionals advice you keep your blood sugar level in constant check and be very careful when using this herb.

Research has shown how coriander is able to enhance the secretion of insulin from the pancreas, which is a hormone which prevents our blood sugar level from getting too high or too low (2).

  • Aids Digestion

Many people have found coriander to help ease their digestive discomfort. This is no fluke, as it has been proven scientifically to possess some beneficial effects against digestive tract infections and disorders.

Some components of coriander such as cineole, limonene, and beta-phellandrene, show great antimicrobial effects, hence, can be helpful in curing diarrhea caused by microbial infections (3).

A study that compared the antimicrobial activity of essential oils and extracts of many medicinal herbs in a bid to find new potential treatments for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), found peppermint and coriander seeds oil to be the most potent. They showed more antimicrobial activity than any of the essential oils used (4).

Another study carried out on humans, showed how coriander successfully reduced the severity of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS, which affects more than 20% of Americans). It reduced the discomfort associated with it such as abdominal pain and bloated stomach.

This wonderful herb is used in the preparation of many house-hold remedies to curb digestive conditions such as nausea, vomiting, and indigestion. These healing properties were all attributed to the rich phytonutrient composition of coriander (5).

  • Lowers Cholesterol levels

If you are looking to balance the level of cholesterol in your blood, then the consumption of coriander might give a helping hand. This cholesterol-lowering effect was tested in animals fed with high fat diet and added cholesterol.

The results showed a double “combo” effect, by reducing the level of LDL/VLDL or bad cholesterol and increasing the level of HDL or good cholesterol (6). Just the way the body wants it.

  • Prevents Neurodegenerative diseases

There are currently a lot of evidences that suggest chronic inflammation plays an integral role in the development of most neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, meningitis, multiple sclerosis, and brain tumor.

Extensive researches carried out have shown how nutraceuticals derived from spices such as coriander, turmeric, black pepper, clove, garlic, ginger, and cinnamon target inflammatory pathways. This shows a potential on how these spice may possibly prevent neurodegenerative diseases (7).

 

Other uses of coriander with few evidences include:

  • Lowers skin inflammation due to its rich content of essential oils
  • May treat skin disorders such as eczema, due to its great antiseptic and anti-fungal property
  • May treat mouth ulcers and prevent bad breath, still due to its rich content of essential oils
  • Can help in preventing anemia and improving bone health due to its relatively high iron and calcium content respectively
  • Supports healthy and proper menstrual cycle by promoting endocrine gland function
  • May help in treating urinary tract infections
  • May fight food poisoning due to its great antimicrobial activity (a research showed its antibacterial activity against Salmonella, a bacterial pathogen which is responsible for more than one million food-borne illnesses in the United States, yearly)
  • Help in eye care, due to its rich content of vitamin A

About the author

Abbati

Abbati studied Biological sciences at Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria. He loves learning about the medicinal properties of foods, and the need to explore them!

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