Sept 6, 2012 by NATASHA LONGO
Cilantro: A Powerhouse of Minerals and Vitamins
Cilantro, also known as coriander, Chinese parsley or dhania, contains an abundance of antioxidants, which can delay or prevent the spoilage of food seasoned with this spice. It also is an excellent source of vital vitamins and minerals.
Chemicals derived from cilantro have antibacterial activity against Salmonella choleraesuis, and this activity was found to be caused in part by these chemicals acting as nonionic surfactants.
Cilantro has also been documented as a traditional treatment for diabetes. A study on mice found coriander extract had both insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity.
Coriander seeds were found in one study on rats to have a significant hypolipidaemic effect, resulting in lowering of levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides, and increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein. This effect appeared to be caused by increasing synthesis of bile by the liver and increasing the breakdown of cholesterol into other compounds.
For the first time, cilantro is on the list of foods with high pesticide levels. It's yet another herb which consumers should be purchasing organic. Testing by federal scientists found 33 unapproved pesticides on 44 percent of the cilantro samples tested.
Various compounds in cilantro give it its distinct scent, which plays a large role in how foods taste. In addition to pleasant aromatic factors (described by some as fresh, grassy, and citrusy), there are aldehyde chemicals, the same as found in soap. People who hate cilantro may detect the unpleasant soapy compounds more than the pleasant ones, or perhaps only the soapy ones. Research in identical twins suggests there may be a genetic basis for this.
Cilantro is an excellent source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Fresh leaves should be washed thoroughly in water in order to remove the dirt and to get rid of any residual pesticides which can be harmful for health. It is best used while it is fresh as it retains its unique fragrance and aromatic flavour. Freshly chopped coriander leaves are a great addition to green salad.
It is also rich in many vital vitamins including folic-acid, vitamin-A, beta carotene and vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant. Cilantro leaves provides 30% of daily recommended levels of vitamin C. The health benefits of cilantro are many. Its powerful anti-inflammatory capacities that can help one deal with symptoms of arthritis. It also increases HDL cholesterol (the good kind), and reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). Coriander leaves offer great relief from stomach indigestion problems and the like. It also helps reduce feelings of nausea. Studies have shown that it has got strong antioxidant properties and it helps promote healthy liver function.
You can make a mouth-watering paste of coriander leaves, peanuts, onions, green chilies and add a dash of lemon juice. This chutney is excellent as a sandwich spread. You can also grind coriander leaves with mint leaves and it is excellent for making a green chicken rice.
This humble herb can be grown in your kitchen garden. So, make it a part of your kitchen and add more taste to your platter. And also derive benefits from its health properties.
Natasha Longo has a master's degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.