Nutritional Information for Cilantro
Cilantro is just the leaves from coriander seeds, a common spice used in Indian cooking. Both cilantro and the spice coriander are excellent sources of antioxidants. They help reduce oxidative stress preventing the build up of free radicals. The taste of cilantro is unique, and many people either love it or hate it. If you are not a fan of cilantro, no worries! Parsley and other herbs have similar antioxidant properties — so try to incorporate them into your diet.
Benefits of Cilantro
Cancer Prevention Benefits
Cilantro has been tested in vitro (lab studies) showing its ability to promote anticancer effects. The phenolic compounds in cilantro seem to arrest cancer cell growth and initiate apoptosis, programmed cell death (aka: cell suicide, which is one major mechanism to protect against cancer). Human trials are lacking.
Men's Health Benefits
The different phytonutrients in cilantro may have therapeutic effects. Those eating 5 grams of cilantro leaf powder (the equivalent of about ¼ cup of fresh leaves) for 60 days have been shown to reduce symptoms associated with bone arthritis. Rather than focus on one individual compound in cilantro, researchers believe that all phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals together have a synergistic effect. Cilantro also contains dietary nitrites helpful for opening blood vessels and protecting the heart.
One review describes all of the potential actions of cilantro. Some words they throw out in the paper include: “anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, anxiolytic, anti-epileptic, anti-depressant, anti-mutagenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-dyslipidemic, anti-hypertensive, neuro-protective and diuretic.” Lastly, using cilantro seed oil in a topical lotion has been shown to treat inflammatory skin diseases. Who knew cilantro could have so many uses beyond enhancing the flavor of salsa!
Ways to Use Cilantro
- Toss fresh cilantro in green leafy salads, pasta salads, and burritos.
- Add chopped cilantro to salsa.
- Top chilis or soups with fresh cilantro.
- Top a veggie burger with avocado, tomatoes, and fresh cilantro.
- Mix chopped cilantro, tomato, and mango together and serve
- Chop and serve on roasted squash or sweet potatoes.
- Add cilantro to green smoothies.
- Toss finely chopped cilantro onto fruit salads.
- Blend cilantro with lime, avocado, and a small amount of water for a creamy dressing.
Resources for Cilantro
American Institute for Cancer Research: www.aicr.org
Nutrition Facts: www.NutritionFacts.org
Physicians Committee: www.prcm.org
USDA Nutrient Database: Cilantro
- Webb AJ, Patel N, Loukogeorgakis S, et al. Acute blood pressure lowering, vasoprotective, and antiplatelet properties of dietary nitrate via bioconversion to nitrite. Hypertension. 2008;51(3):784-90.
- Sahib N, Anwar F, Gilani A, Hamid A, Saari N, Alkharfy K. Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.): a potential source of high-value components for functional foods and nutraceuticals–a review. Phytother Res. 2013;27(10):1439-56.
- Rajeshwari C, Siri A, Andallu B. Antioxidant and antiarthritic potential of coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) leaves. Clinical Nutrition ESPEN. 2012;7(6)e223-28
- Reuter J, Huyke C, Casetti F, et al. Anti-inflammatory potential of a lipolotion containing coriander oil in the ultraviolet erythema test. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2008;6(10):847-51.