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Learn the top cilantro benefits and how to chop cilantro

Cultivated since 2000 BCE, the cilantro plant has been used as a seasoning and as a natural therapeutic agent.1In 2008, 42 million kg of cilantro was exported from Mexico and valued at $13.3 million.

Cilantro

What is cilantro? Derived from the Apiaceae plant family, cilantro (Coriandrum sativum L.) is a leafy, short plant often used as a seasoning in Asian or Latin American cuisine.1,6

Where does cilantro come from? Cilantro is originally derived from the coast regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Its use has quickly spread to Asia, Africa and Europe.6

Often referred to as green coriander or Chinese parsley, there are two types of cilantro that are frequently used, Coriandrum sativum (leaf coriander) and broadleaf cilantro.6

Thanks to its many names, there’s often confusion surrounding the cilantro herb. When eaten fresh, cilantro is considered an herb. The seeds may also be prepared as a spice, and is then referred to as coriander. It’s important to remember that cilantro refers only to the leaves, and that it has unique culinary applications.

Cilantro Soap Taste

For many, the taste of cilantro is refreshing and vegetal. However, some people don’t like cilantro. A common complaint is that cilantro tastes like soap, but it’s important to note that not everyone will have this experience. In fact, it has long been theorized that certain genetic differences can cause some humans to love the taste of cilantro, while causing others to despise it.1

While the so-called “cilantro gene” has not yet been identified, recent studies suggest that this cilantro preference may be due to a genetic variant near the olfactory receptor genes, which are normally used to detect and identify smells.1

How to Chop and Store Cilantro

Before you can experience it for yourself, you’ll need to know how to cut cilantro so that you can use it properly in your cooking.

Before you cut fresh cilantro, dunk the leaves in water and swirl them around by the stems to help remove surface dirt or grit. Then, gently shake the excess water off and pat the cilantro dry with a paper towel. When you begin the actual process of slicing through the stems, make sure to do the following two things:

  • Rock the knife blade back and forth to achieve a finer chop.
  • Avoid over-chopping the cilantro, which can make the cilantro leaves turn black.

How to Store Cilantro

It’s also recommended that you store any cilantro not in use, since dried cilantro leaves have little flavor or nutritional value. However, some people are unsure of how to keep cilantro fresh.

One of the most popular methods is to wrap the unused cilantro in the same paper towels used to pat them dry. Place them in a resealable bag and then store in the fridge.

Can you freeze cilantro? Instead of storing the cilantro in the fridge, make a cilantro puree that can be stored in the freezer for future use. In a blender, add 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil and 1 cup of cilantro. Blend the ingredients. Pour the puree into an ice cube tray, and transfer the finished cubes to a freezer bag. These cubes can then be used in lieu of fresh cilantro for future meals.

How Long Does Cilantro Last?

Users can preserve fresh cilantro for up to 5 days by wrapping it and placing it in the fridge.  However, cilantro will slowly lose its flavor the longer it’s stored. Alternately, users can store cilantro for up to six months by using the puree method outlined above.

Learn how to cut cilantro and how to store cilantro properly along with the top seven cilantro benefits

Cilantro is one of the most versatile herbs today. With a number of cilantro benefits, discover the top seven reasons to include cilantro in your everyday meals.

Cilantro Benefits

The top cilantro benefits include:

  1. Rids the Body of Heavy Metals
  2. Antioxidant Activity
  3. Reduces Anxiety
  4. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
  5. Promotes Heart Health
  6. Improves Digestion
  7. Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Beyond taste, many readers are curious about what is cilantro good for, exactly? The health benefits cilantro offers make it an excellent addition to numerous dishes. Below, Better Health Organization as compiled a list of the top health benefits of cilantro.

  1. Rids the Body of Heavy Metals
  2. One of the most frequently cited health benefits of cilantro is its ability to help the body remove heavy metals and toxins. In a recent study, cilantro extract was administered to a child exposed to lead. While it was shown to help improve renal excretions, the extract was used as a part of an overall diet change. With cilantro, heavy metals such as arsenic, aluminum and lead are believed to be eliminated by improving natural chelation processes.2

What is chelation? Described as multiple bonds between organic molecules and metals, chelation occurs naturally in the body and may be used to help rid the body of toxic elements.2
  1. Antioxidant Activity
  2. In a 2012 study, cilantro was shown to contain notable antioxidant activity. Results indicate that cilantro may help protect human keratinocyte cells from oxidative stress and potentially harmful free radicals.3

  1. Reduces Anxiety
  2. In recent animal studies, cilantro has been shown to demonstrate anti-anxiety effects similar to the effects of diazepam, a common anti-anxiety drug.4

  1. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
  2. Animal studies also show that cilantro may be used as a dietary approach to lowering blood sugar in some mammals. Results suggest that with more research it may be effective in the natural treatment of diabetes.5

  1. Promotes Heart Health
  2. In a 2012 study, cilantro was shown to reduce total triglyceride, cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in animal subjects. High levels of these markers are often associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.5

Is cilantro good for you? Cilantro is rich in potassium, which is known to be important in controlling high blood pressure.6 Regulating blood pressure is an important part of reducing the risk of heart disease.7
  1. Improves Digestion
  2. Beyond basic cilantro nutritional benefits, cilantro leaves and seeds both contain volatile oils with strong antimicrobial properties, which may help the digestive system break down foods more efficiently and relieve irritation. The volatile oils may also help the digestive system resist food- and water-borne illnesses.8

  1. Anti-inflammatory Effects
  2. The oils common to both cilantro and coriander are also known to target inflammatory pathways in the body.9 Emerging evidence suggests that inflammation may play a major role in certain brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.10 These findings help support some of the traditional medicinal uses for cilantro.

Coriander vs Cilantro

There might be confusion from those of you who frequently hear terms like “cilantro plant” and “coriander” used interchangeably. Is cilantro the same as coriander? Cilantro and coriander both come from the same plant, but the cilantro seeds are referred to as coriander; cilantro is the herb itself. The taste is also different. Instead of using the leaves from cilantro, spice is often added to dishes by using coriander, the seeds, because they have a subtle earthy and nutty taste.

Cilantro Nutrition

Above, we’ve provided the top benefits of cilantro, but still need to answer the question “is cilantro healthy?” Yes, it is. Cilantro is a great and healthy way to add flavor and nutrients to any dish. Although the nutritional value of cilantro is well documented, it may change slightly depending on variety. What vitamins are in cilantro? – Vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, thiamine, zinc and dietary fibre.6,12

Scientific Research Referenced in this Article

  1. Eriksson N., et al. (2012). A genetic variant near olfactory receptor genes influences cilantro preference. Flavour, 1, 22, doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/2044-7248-1-22
  2. Sears, M. E. (2013). Chelation: Harnessing and Enhancing Heavy Metal Detoxification—A Review. The Scientific World Journal2013, 1-13. doi:1155/2013/219840
  3. Park G., et al. (2012). Coriandrum sativum L. protects human keratinocytes from oxidative stress by regulating oxidative defense systems. Skin Pharmacol. Physiol.25(2):93-9 Doi: 1159/000335257
  4. Mahendra P. and Bisht S. (2011). Anti-anxiety activity of Coriandrum sativum assessed using different experimental anxiety models. Indian Journal of Pharmacology, 43(5): 574-7. Doi: 4103/0253-7613.84975
  5. Sreellatha S. and Inbavalli R. (2012). Antioxidant, antihyperglycemic, and antihyperlipidemic effects of Coriandrum sativum leaf and stem in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Journal of Food Science, 77(7) 119-23 Doi: 1111/j.1750-3841.2012.02755.x
  6. Morales-Payan, J.P. (n.d.) Herbs and Leaf Crops: Cilantro, Broadleaf Ilantro, and Vegetable Amaranth. Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems. Retrieved November 25, 2017, from http://www.eolss.net/sample-chapters/c10/e1-05a-47.pdf
  7. How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure. (2017). Retrieved November 21, 2017, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Potassium-and-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_303243_Article.jsp#.WhTNbLbMyRs
  8. Ayfer Ates D. and Turgay O. (2003) Antimicrobial Activities of Various Medicinal and Commercial Plant Extracts. Turkish Journal of Biology, 27: 157-62. Retrieved November 21, 2017, from http://journals.tubitak.gov.tr/biology/issues/biy-03-27-3/biy-27-3-6-0303-1.pdf
  9. Reuter J, et al. (2008). Anti-inflammatory potential of a lipolotion containing coriander oil in the ultraviolet erythema test. Journal of the German Society of Dermatology, 6(10) 847-51. Doi: 1111/j.1610-0387.2008.06704.x
  10. Kannappan R., et al. (2011). Neuroprotection by spice-derived nutraceuticals: you are what you eat! Molecular Neurobiology 44(2) 142-59. Doi: 1007/s12035-011-8168-2
  11. Bhat S., et al. (2014). Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.): Processing, nutritional, and functional aspects. African Journal of Plant Science, 8(1) 25-33. Doi: 5897/AJPS2013.1118
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