Contributor: Saffron & Sage
Photographer: Sarah Shreves
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum), also known as Chinese parsley, has been used by cultures around the world to add bold flavor to dishes, but its uses extend beyond the culinary. Many naturopaths continue to use this herb for its health-promoting benefits. Easy-to-grow, antioxidant-rich cilantro makes a great addition to your home herb garden and will give you continued access to all its delicious, medicinal properties.
The Health Benefits of Cilantro
Detox Wonder: Cilantro is a powerful “chelation agent” and has been found to help reduce the build-up of heavy metals in the human body. Usually these metals enter the body through a variety of non-organic or highly-processed sources—think over-the-counter medications and municipal water—which over time can cause serious health complications leading to heart problems, cancer and more.
Lower Cholesterol: Low in calories and naturally cholesterol-free, cilantro’s deep green leaves and stems are full of antioxidants, essential vitamins, minerals and fiber which can aid in lowering levels of LDL or “bad cholesterol.”
Ease Anxiety: Many medications have been developed to treat the symptoms of anxiety, but due to a host of unwanted side effects those living with anxiety disorders have sought out alternative treatment methods. Research has found that cilantro’s naturally occurring flavonoids and essential oils produce a sedative effect that was useful in easing symptoms of anxiety.
Boost Brain Health: The same plant constituents that were found to ease anxiety also showed memory-enhancing qualities that could be used in treating neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
Fight Allergies: Ayurvedic medicine often uses cilantro or its seeds (coriander) as a digestive aid in order to relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergies. By addressing poor digestion, which allows toxins to accumulate and weaken the immune system, Ayurveda practitioners can treat the root cause of the body’s negative reaction to pollen or other plant matter.
How to Use Cilantro in Your Kitchen
Cilantro and coriander can be used in a variety of meals to reap these healthful benefits. Try adding fresh cilantro to soups and rice dishes for an extra punch of flavor. Freshly ground coriander seeds mingle well with other spices to season vegetables or meat for grilling.
Our Favorite Use: Add fresh, chopped cilantro to green smoothies for its detoxifying properties and bold flavor. It pairs well with citrus, ginger and most leafy greens.