February 10, 2017
The health benefits of fresh herbs are often overlooked; however, they can be just as essential to a healthy diet as fruits and vegetables thanks to their high antioxidant content.
Learning how to use fresh herbs and spices like cilantro to flavor food can also help to cut down on sodium intake.
In this article, we will give a brief history of cilantro, describe its nutritional content, and discuss possible health benefits.
Fast facts on cilantro
Here are some key points about cilantro. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
- There is archaeological evidence that cilantro has been enjoyed for thousands of years
- Cilantro contains chemicals that help foods stay fresher for longer
- One-fourth of a cup of cilantro contains 5 percent of the daily value of vitamin A
What is cilantro?
Learning how to use fresh herbs and spices like cilantro can help to cut down on sodium intake.
Cilantro is an annual herb from the family Apiaceae, which contains 3,700 species including carrots, celery, and parsley.
All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and dried seeds are most commonly used in cooking.
Often known in the United Kingdom as coriander, cilantro comes from the plant Coriandrum sativum.
In the United States, the leaves of the plant are referred to as cilantro (the Spanish translation) and the seeds are called coriander. Cilantro is also commonly known as Chinese parsley.
This article focuses on the health benefits of the leaves of the Coriandrum plant.
Cilantro has been a part of human cuisine for a long time. Dried traces of cilantro were found in a cave in Israel that dated to around 6,000 BC. Remnants have also been found in ancient Egypt, showing that its use was widespread even in ancient civilizations.
Moving forward a few thousand years, cilantro was brought to the early British colonies in North America in 1670, making it one of the first spices to be cultivated by the early settlers.
Possible health benefits of cilantro
Consuming plant-based foods of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.
Some studies suggest that increasing consumption of plant foods like cilantro decreases the risk of obesity, overall mortality, diabetes, and heart disease while promoting healthy skin and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
Due to its high antioxidant content, oil extracted from the leaves of cilantro has been shown to inhibit unwanted oxidation when added to other foods, delaying or preventing spoilage.
A compound found in the leaves and seeds of cilantro – dodecanal – has also been found to have an antibacterial effect against Salmonella. In laboratory tests, dodecanal was twice as…