Coriander, commonly known as Dhania in the Indian Subcontinent and Cilantro in the Americas and some parts of Europe, is an herb that is extensively used around the world as a condiment, garnish, or decoration on culinary dishes. Its scientific name is Coriandrum Sativum L. Its leaves and fruits have a recognizable and pleasant aroma and are commonly used raw or dried for culinary applications.
Nutritional Value of CorianderIts uses in global food preparation is only the tip of the iceberg. Unbeknownst to many people, coriander is packed with potential health benefits that most people completely miss when they toss this garnish into the garbage after eating their meal. It has eleven components of essential oils, six types of acids (including ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin-C), minerals and vitamins, each having a number of beneficial properties. A more complete list is given below.
Health benefits of corianderSkin inflammation: Cineole, one of the 11 components of the essential oils, and linoleic acid, are both present in coriander, and they possess antirheumatic and antiarthritic properties. They help to reduce the swelling that is caused by these two conditions. For other swelling conditions, such as swelling due to kidney malfunction or anemia, it is also seen to be effective to some extent, because some of the components in coriander help the induce urination and the release of excess water from the body. The reduction in skin inflammation can lead to increased functioning, a reduction in discomfort, and an improvement in skin appearance.
Skin disorders: The disinfectant, detoxifying, antiseptic, antifungal and antioxidant properties of coriander are ideal for clearing up skin disorders such as eczema, dryness and fungal infections.
Low cholesterol levels: Some of the acids present in coriander, like linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin-C) are very effective in reducing the cholesterol levels in the blood. They also reduce the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) deposition along the inner walls of the arteries and veins, which can lead to serious cardiovascular issues like artherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. More importantly, coriander helps to raise the levels of healthy cholesterol (HDL), which works as a preventative line of defense against a number of dangerous conditions.
Diarrhea: Some of the components of essential oils found in coriander such as Borneol and Linalool, aid in digestion, proper functioning of the liver and bonding of bowels, while also helping to reduce diarrhea. It is also helpful in curing diarrhea caused by microbial and fungal action, since components like Cineole, Borneol, Limonene, Alpha-pinene & beta-phelandrene have antibacterial effects.
Coriander is also increasingly popular as a means of preventing nausea, vomiting, and other stomach disorders. Its wealth of bioactive compounds means that new health benefits are always being discovered in this power-packed plant.
In addition to these health aspects of the stomach, fresh coriander leaves are excellent appetizers to get your bowels prepared for a large meal.
Blood pressure: Consuming coriander has been shown to positively reduce blood pressure in many patients suffering from hypertension. The interaction of Calcium ions and cholinergic, a neurotransmitter in the peripheral and central nervous system, more commonly know as acetylcholine. The interaction of these two elements relaxes blood vessel tension, thereby reducing the chances of a number of cardiovascular conditions, including heart attacks and strokes.
Mouth ulcers: Citronelol, a component of essential oils in coriander, is an excellent antiseptic. Additionally, other components have antimicrobial and healing effects which keep wounds and ulcers in the mouth from worsening. They help speed up the healing process of ulcers and also freshen breath. Although not in common use in mainstream products, coriander is often used as an antiseptic component of all-natural toothpastes. In fact, before the invention of toothpaste, people would chew on coriander seeds to reduce bad breath!
Anemia: Coriander is high in iron content, which directly helps people who suffer from anemia. Low iron content in the blood can result in shortness of breath, heart palpitations, extreme fatigue, and a decrease in cognitive functions. Iron also benefits proper functions of other organ systems, increases energy and strength, and promotes the health of bones.
Anti-allergic properties: Multiple studies have shown coriander to have strong anti-histamine properties that can reduce the uncomfortable affects of seasonal allergies and hay fever (rhinitis). Coriander oil can also be used to reduce allergic reactions to contact with plants, insects, food, and other substances that may cause allergic reactions on the skin or when consumed. Internally, it can ward off anaphylaxis, hives, and dangerous swelling of the throat and glands. It’s never a bad idea to protect yourself against allergic reactions, especially since it is difficult to know what you might be allergic to, until you come in contact with it for the first time!
Salmonella protection: Salmonella is one of the most dangerous causes of food borne illnesses in the world, so any natural way to protect against it is very important. Coriander has unusually high levels of dodecenal, a natural compound that is actually twice as powerful of an antibiotic than the leading treatment for salmonella-based illness. By adding coriander into your normal diet, you protect your body from horribly uncomfortable, and even fatal, illnesses relating to this deadly bacteria. Coriander is commonly found in salsa to add flavor, so dip a chip and protect yourself from food poisoning, the most common way of describing the effects of salmonella.
Bone health: As a rich source of calcium, coriander is of great value for people who want to protect the integrity of their bones. Calcium and other essential minerals found in coriander are integral components of bone regrowth and durability, as well as in the prevention of bone degradation so commonly associated with debilitating diseases like osteoporosis. Adding even a small amount of coriander to your diet can help to keep your bones healthy and strong for years to come. Calcium is particularly present in the center leaves of coriander, so aim for that part of the plant if bone health is your focus!
Digestion: Coriander, due to the rich aroma from its essential oils, helps in the proper secretion of enzymes and digestive juices in the stomach, thereby stimulating digestion and peristaltic motion. It is also helpful in treating eating disorders like anorexia. Besides the pleasant aroma of coriander, it has certain stimulatory qualities, derived from the minerals and neurotransmitters that are stimulated when coriander is ingested. Studies have shown that dyspepsia (indigestion) is reduced if coriander is regularly added to the diet. For small children, who have a higher chance of developing abdominal colic than adults, small amounts of coriander in their diet can clear the issue up quickly!
Smallpox: The essential oils in coriander are rich in antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-infectious and detoxifying components and acids. The presence of vitamin-C and iron strengthens the immune system as well. These properties help prevent and cure smallpox, and they can also reduce the pain and have a soothing effect on smallpox patients. In the places left in the world where smallpox outbreaks occur, studies have shown massive amounts of vitamin-C have a definite curative effect on smallpox in hundreds of different cases.
Menstrual disorders: Coriander is a natural stimulant, and it regulates proper secretion from the endocrine glands, and that hormonal impact means that it helps regulate proper menstrual cycles and reduces the associated pain during a woman’s period.
Eye care: Coriander is loaded with antioxidants, vitamin-A, vitamin-C and minerals like phosphorous in its essential oils, which prevents vision disorders, macular degeneration and it reduces strain and stress on the eyes. There is also beta-carotene in the leaves, which prevent a number of other diseases that affect the eye, and can even reverse the effects of vision degradation in aging patients.
Conjunctivitis: As discussed earlier, coriander is a very good disinfectant and has antimicrobial properties that protect the eyes from contagious diseases like conjunctivitis. Coriander oil is one of the fundamental components of a number of eye care products.
Blood sugar and diabetes: Due the stimulating effect of coriander on the endocrine glands, the secretion of insulin is increased from pancreas which subsequently increases the insulin level in the blood. This regulates the proper assimilation and absorption of sugar and the resulting drops in the sugar level in the blood. This property is extremely beneficial for patients who suffer from diabetes and other related conditions, in order to lower their chances of dangerous spikes and drops in their blood sugar levels, and to ensure other normal metabolic functions as well.
Other benefits: Coriander helps cure ulcers, inflammation, spasms, while acting as an expectorant and protecting the liver. It is anticarcinogenic, anticonvulsant, antihistaminic and hypnotic. Coriander is believed to be a natural aphrodisiac and traditionally, it was widely used in certain combinations with other herbs to enhance a person’s libido.
Word of Caution: There have been very few dangers associated with coriander, but as with almost any food, there is some danger of allergic reaction to it, and in some cases, it can be irritating to the skin. One of the more unusual side effects is that some patients complain of sunlight sensitivity, and that excessive coriander intake makes them more susceptible to sunburn, which could subsequently lead to skin cancer over the long term.
Pregnant women should not take coriander until more established research is done, although some women have claimed that it increases their production of breast milk flow. It is best to be safe, so speak with a doctor before adding coriander to your diet, and pay attention to the response your body has!