You probably know cilantro as the green herb found in salsa and Mexican foods. In the U.S. the seeds are known as coriander, a spice used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. Other countries refer to the whole plant as coriander or Chinese parsley. But did you know that in addition to adding succulent flavor to food, there are secret health benefits of cilantro?
Did you know it has the ability to lower blood sugar, protect against food poisoning, and contains several vitamins and minerals. Sounds too good to be true, right? But it’s not. Cilantro has been used for its medicinal properties as far back as the ancient Greeks.
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What exactly is cilantro?
Cilantro, Coriandrum Sativum, grows as an annual herb in the Apiaceae family. It is a green leafy herb, whereas the seeds are considered a spice. Cilantro grows wild in Southern Europe and Western Asia. It reaches 20 inches tall and develops very small white or light pink flowers shortly before going to seed. People often describe its taste as citrousy or tangy. However, according to wikipedia some people have a gene that actually makes it tasty soapy. After picking it, store cilantro in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.
Diabetics need to know these benefits of cilantro
Cilantro reduces sugar levels by triggering an enzyme that removes sugar from your blood. According to WebMD the effects are similar to the medication Glibenclamide, which doctors proscribe to reduce blood sugar. However, a word of caution, make sure you regulate how much cilantro you ingest if you already have low blood sugar. It could reduce it to dangerous levels.
Ate some questionable pizza? These benefits of cilantro will help you
In addition to helping decrease blood sugar, WebMD also states that cilantro contains the antimicrobial compound Dodecenal. This helps protect against infections and food borne illnesses such as salmonella. No wonder countries with hot climates such as Mexico and India pile on the cilantro!
Also, due to the fiber content, cilantro aids in healthy digestion by helping prevent bloating and heartburn. The high water content helps in the prevention of constipation as well.
Benefits of cilantro for a badass brain boost
Scientists continue studying cilantro to identify additional health properties. Some studies show that eating cilantro correlates with reduced symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Another study showed that eating the leaves of the cilantro plant increased memory in mice. Of course, because two things are connected doesn’t necessarily mean that one causes the other. Scientists continue to research cilantro to further prove their hypotheses.
Possible anti-cancer effects
Medical News Today cites two studies that used test tubes to conduct research on the effects of cilantro on cancer cells. One study used cilantro extract on prostate cancer cells. After exposure to the cilantro, cancer cells spread at a reduced rate.
Another study focused on breast cancer cells which were exposed to root extract, stems, and leaves of the cilantro plant. Again, the exposure to the plant helped prevent cell damage caused by oxidative stress.
Take a chill pill
Another study shows that by ingesting cilantro, people can possibly reduce their anxiety . WebMD cites a study where rats who were given cilantro extract displayed reduced symptoms of anxiety. Further studies with human subjects are needed to be conclusive.
Adds flavor to recipes
Cilantro adds amazing flavor to foods. You can use it in salsas, soups, and stir fries. With the added flavor you will need less salt, therefore reducing your salt intake. Add a handful of cilantro as part of the greens in a salad. If you have an abundance of cilantro, you can even substitute it for basil to make a Mexican pesto.
If you haven’t used this herb in the past, you should try it. In addition to adding extra flavor to foods, the health benefits you will receive are worth a try. It is also a very affordable herb in these days where prices are high.
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Donna Emperador is a travel and food blogger and copywriter. Donna believes in learning about different cultures while sharing good food and cocktails. She has lived in South Florida for over 20 years and enjoys spending time exploring the road to find unique places to share with readers. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.