Coriander: the most widely used herb of the world

August 04, 2008

As a child I was not very fond of the taste of coriander seed or its leaves as my mother used them liberally in our preparations. I would generously keep aside the coriander (aka cilantro) leaves from dishes like Rasam. When I grew up I read that coriander leaves are healthy things and that it is good to use them in daily diet. The blessing is that it is usually available through out the year. Coriander serves both as a herb and a spice. It is a healing herb that is used effectively in different parts of the globe. While Indians use it for its anti-inflammatory properties, many European nations use this perennial herb for its anti-diabetic qualities. It is not unknown in Mexico and in the Caribbean. Cilantro leaves have taken place in the American kitchens along with herbs like Goldenseal and Echinacea. Latin American and Chinese dishes also make optimal use of the plant. In Iranian folk medicine, Coriander has been used for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia. It is also gaining popularity for it cholesterol lowering effects. Thus it can be said that it is the most widely used herb of the world.

Are we fully aware of the health benefits of coriander?

It contains:

Thiamine
Zinc
Vitamin A,C,E (Alpha Tocopherol) and K
Vitamin B6
Riboflavin
carotene
Niacin
Folate
Pantothenic Acid
minerals like Calcium
Iron
Magnesium
Phosphorus
Potassium
Copper
Manganese
Selenium
proteins
fat
fiber
carbohydrates
water

  • Coriander is low in saturated fat and Cholesterol and is a very good source of Dietary Fiber.

  • A good digestive aid, it prevents flatulence, intestinal gas and nausea. In some traditional medicines, it is used as a carminative.
  • It is an aphrodisiac that helps in the removal of phlegm. Coriander can also reduce fever, even typhoid fever.
  • Works well for heavy metals detoxification. Fresh coriander leaves can increase the excretion of heavy metals through urine.
  • It also helps with urinary tract infections.
  • Also used as a diuretic in traditional medicines.
  • Coriander leaves are rich in phytonutrients especially flavonoids. These are essential to the sustenance and the well being of human life. They can prevent many diseases, even fight carcinogens and tumor development.
  • Coriander leaves have a great reputation for their anti-inflammatory properties. They are great for alleviating the effects of arthritis.
  • Coriander lowers blood sugar and cholesterol (LDL) while increasing good cholesterol (HDL). Coriander leaves can stimulate the secretion of insulin in the body and consequently lower the blood sugar level.
  • Dodecenal present in coriander leaves fights Salmonella bacteria. Thus it helps to prevent food borne diseases triggered by Salmonella.
  • It is also said that it can cure conjunctivitis if used as an eye-wash and can reduce pimples if applied topically.
  • But some herbalists warn asthmatic and bronchitis patients from using a lot of coriander.

How to buy and store

Look for fresh and crisp leaves without any pecks or spots. Store them in the refrigerator and consume within a week. According to some, they will stay longer with the roots removed, wrapped in paper towels and stored in zip locks. Coriander seeds can either be stored fresh or powdered. It is better if they can be kept in an opaque jar in a dark and dry place. People believe in grinding the seeds at home than buying the powder from the market. This preserves the quality and the aroma of the food stuff.

-Aparna K V

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