There’s nothing that can brighten up a dish quite like the right spice, and cultures all over the world have decided that coriander is the one. The seeds of the plant are used in everything from pastries to curries, and its leaves are just as popular. There’s more to this plant than its flexibility, though.
Coriander, also known as cilantro or Chinese parsley, is a widely used spice native to the Mediterranean. Coriander plants are entirely edible, but their leaves and their seeds are most commonly used as herbs and spices. In the US, the seeds of the plant are typically known as coriander and the leaves are called cilantro. In both forms, the plant provides some impressive health benefits.
The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in coriander provide significant health benefits. Coriander leaves and seeds are full of vitamin K, which plays an important role in helping your blood clot.
Vitamin K also helps your bones repair themselves, helping prevent problems like osteoporosis. Additionally, evidence points to vitamin K helping lower your risk of heart disease.
Coriander leaves and seeds can also provide health benefits like:
Fewer Free Radicals
Coriander is full of antioxidants, which are important for fighting free radicals in your body. Free radicals are loose oxygen molecules that can damage your cells, potentially causing cancer, heart disease, and more. The antioxidants in coriander help remove free radicals from your body, reducing your risk of certain cancers and even decreasing signs of aging.
Coriander has multiple effects that can benefit your heart health. The herb acts as a diuretic, which can help flush extra sodium from your system and reduce your blood pressure. Early research also suggests that coriander can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, reducing your risk of atherosclerosis, a form of coronary heart disease.
Coriander shows promise in helping to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is linked to several uncomfortable conditions, from cancer to heart disease. The antioxidants in coriander have been linked to reduced inflammation and slowed growth of cancer cells in the lab.
Coriander seeds have been shown to significantly lower blood sugar in people who have diabetes. Current trials show that coriander helps activate the enzymes that help your body process blood glucose effectively. While more studies need to be done, people with high blood sugar may benefit from adding more coriander to their diet.
Coriander is a great source of vitamin A, which helps feed your retinas, keep your eyes moist, and generally helps protect your vision.
Coriander is also full of vitamin C, which is important to your immune system. Consuming enough vitamin C helps keep your white blood cells in working order and assists in the absorption of iron. Vitamin C also plays a role in wound healing and collagen production, which helps keep skin firm.
Coriander is also a good source of:
Nutrients per Serving
One teaspoon of dried coriander leaves contains:
- Calories: 2
- Protein: Less than 1 gram
- Fat: Less than 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: Less than 1 gram
- Fiber: Less than 1 gram
- Sugar: Less than 1 gram
Things to Watch Out For
Coriander is effective at lowering blood sugar. In fact, it’s so effective at lowering blood sugar that people who are taking diabetes medication or who have hypoglycemia should be cautious when eating coriander.
Since coriander is a spice, it’s usually not eaten in large quantities. However, early studies have shown that coriander extract can lower blood sugar in doses as low as 20 milligrams per kilogram of weight. While coriander extract is much stronger than standard coriander, it is still wise to keep your coriander intake under a few grams if you have hypoglycemia.
How to Use Coriander
In the US, coriander typically refers to the seeds of the plant. Coriander is easily grown indoors, so it can be found year-round in supermarkets and spice shops around the country.
As a spice, these seeds can be used whole or ground into powder. Keeping your coriander fresh is important for getting the best flavor. For the best result, buy coriander whole and then grind it with a pepper mill or a mortar and pestle just before you want to use it.
Coriander is used in a wide variety of dishes. Here are some ways to add coriander to your diet:
- Add coriander to chili
- Make coriander rice
- Roll coriander into meatballs
- Rub coriander and other spices on chicken
- Include coriander in a curry
- Add coriander to black beans
- Add coriander to salsa