Cilantro

Here is another installation in our ongoing series of the health benefits of herbs and spices.

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Cilantro is an herb that inspires strong feelings in people, rarely do people have lukewarm feelings about cilantro. There is a genetic link to a cilantro aversion, where a percentage of the population likens the taste of cilantro to a mouthful of soap. My old roommates and I had a running debate on the merits of cilantro: I would put it on most things and they would painstakingly pick specks of it out of every dish. My mom loved cilantro. She would happily add handfuls of it to everything, and for good reason.

It really is remarkable. It can be considered an herb and a spice, because both the seeds (coriander) and leaves are used. It is native to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions and has been used in the kitchen by cultures spanning the globe. It is also considered one of the oldest spices, with records of it in use dating back to 5,000 BC. In addition to garnishing our cooking, cilantro has a wealth of health benefits.

Antibiotic & antimicrobial

Research has shown that cilantro contains a compound that is twice as effective as the traditional salmonella fighting antibiotic gentamicin. Dodecenal, the isolated compound is found equally in cilantro (leaves) and coriander (seeds). Even better, cilantro contains a number of additional antibiotic compounds making it even more effective. Cilantro contains oils that assist in fighting fungal, bacterial and yeast infections.

Anti-diabetic plant

Europeans sometimes refer to cilantro as an anti-diabetic plant and research seems to bear that out. Cilantro helped stimulate the production and secretion of insulin and lowered blood sugar numbers when it was added to the diet of diabetic mice.

Anti-inflammatory

Cilantro is high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which are the basis of our body’s anti-inflammatory messaging molecules.

Cholesterol & blood pressure lowering

Cilantro also effectively lowered LDL cholesterol while raising HDL cholesterol when fed to rats that had been on a high fat and high cholesterol diet. Additionally, including cilantro in your diet may help reduce hypertension by lowering blood pressure. It is high in potassium, manganese, calcium, iron, and magnesium all of which are essential to good health and low blood pressure.

Detoxification

Cilantro contains compounds that are effective at removing heavy metals from our bodies. Studies have been done specifically on mercury exposure and the lessening of its effects after extended periods of consumptions of cilantro. It has also been found to suppress lead accumulation in rats. Taking cilantro along with spirulina is a remarkably efficient way of ridding the body and the brain of heavy metals. This is accomplished because the cilantro loosens the heavy metals from the fatty tissue and transfers them to  Additionally, because of its natural chelation abilities, cilantro is being studied for water purification properties.

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