Like politics and religion, cilantro elicits strong opinions. People love it or hate it. For some, it’s an acquired taste. Even the name of the plant can be controversial. In the U.S., the leaves are called cilantro, while the seeds are called coriander. In Europe, the leaves are called coriander, while the seeds are also called coriander. To confuse matters further, cilantro leaves are also known as Chinese parsley.Whatever your culinary or linguistic disposition, this is one herb the world apparently can’t live without. Featured in the cuisines of the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Asia, cilantro has a culinary history dating back millennia. Its seeds were found in 8,000-year-old caves in Israel. There are ancient Sanskrit and biblical references to coriander. Even King Tut claimed a piece of the cilantro action with seeds scattered in his tomb. Introduced to the Americas by Europeans in the 1600s, the coriander plant is a relative newcomer to this part of the world. It’s been growing like the dickens ever since, making up for any lost epochal time while achieving a prominent place in American Southwestern, Mexican and Latin American cuisines.
The entire cilantro plant is edible, including its root. The seeds, known as coriander, are the dried ripe fruit of the plant, frequently used whole for pickling and spicing, or toasted and finely ground into the dried spice also known as coriander. Dried coriander seeds bear no resemblance in flavor to the fresh leaves. Fresh coriander leaves are delicate and lacy, imparting a unique soapy aroma that either attracts or repels, depending on which side of the cilantro fence you sit. Cilantro leaves are best served fresh and used as a final flourish to dishes, because their fragility does not lend well to the heat of cooking.
Cilantro is easy to grow, which helps to explain its abundance. It is a hardy annual herb and a member of the parsley family, related to other lacy-leaved plants such as fennel, dill, chervil and carrots. It bolts quickly in warm temperatures, so it’s best grown in the spring or fall. As soon as it flowers, it makes seeds that can be harvested and replanted. With some planning and routine, cilantro can grow all season long.
Cilantro (coriander leaves) Nutritional Benefits
The leaf has appreciable amounts of vitamins A, B (including folic acid, and B6), C, and K. The leaf is also a rich source of dietary fiber and minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. Fibers and minerals provide important dietary factors that help us maintain our health. Dietary fibers are essential for intestinal regularity and to maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Potassium is an important component of cells and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is essential for healthy red blood cell production. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor to manufacture the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Coriander leaf also contains powerful antibacterial compounds including α-pinene, β-phellandrene, cineole, and borneol.
Coriander Benefits (leaves, cilantro, and seeds)
1. Coriander lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases the levels of good cholesterol (HDL).
2. A very good food for digestive system, coriander promotes liver functions and bowel movements.
3. Coriander is good for diabetes patients. It can stimulate the insulin secretion and lower the blood sugar levels.
4. Vitamin K in it is good for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
5. The fat soluble vitamin and antioxidant- Vitamin A, protects from lung and cavity cancers.
6. Coriander contains anti-inflammatory properties. This is why it is good against inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
7. Coriander’s anti-septic properties help to cure mouth ulcer.
8. Coriander is good for the eyes. Antioxidants in coriander prevent eye diseases. It’s a good remedy in the treatment of conjunctivitis.
9. Coriander seeds are especially good for the menstrual flow.
10. It’s a very good herb to promote the nervous system. It can stimulate the memory.
11. Coriander helps those suffering from anemia. Coriander contains high amounts of iron, which is essential for curing anemia.