Did you know that cilantro and coriander is one and the same? Yes, even though many people swear that they are different herbs, for the most part it just boils down to where you’re from. Even though the names should be used interchangeably, what is not interchangeable is the distinct flavors its leaves have, in comparison to its seeds. This probably lends itself to some of the confusion, as it is hard to fathom such distinct flavors from the same plant!
Besides its well established utility in garnishing and adding flavor to food, Cilantro or coriander (whichever you’re comfortable with) is also nutrient dense, being rich in Vitamins C and K, along with modest amount of minerals such as calcium and potassium.
Which brings us to yet another amazing aspect of this versatile herb; its amazing health benefits. Given, many people are unaware of any existing benefits, but used traditionally in Asia and India, it is revered for some of its benefits. Let’s explore some of its more popular health benefits:
1. Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels
Controlling blood sugar levels is no easy task, especially as a diabetic person on multiple medications. However, coriander may be able to offer some assistance. It was found that mice given an extract of coriander were successfully able to reduce blood sugar levels, and also improve uptake of glucose into cells and promote storage as glycogen. This is significant because it signals the utility or cilantro as a natural anti-diabetic adjuvant.
2. Promotes Sleep
Though this is not one of the better known effects of cilantro, it can indeed help you sleep. Depending on your level of sleep deprivation (chronic or acute short-term) coriander can help relieve anxiety and reduce stress- both very common causes of insomnia.
3. Helps Relieve Gastric Discomfort
Cilantro has been used for centuries as a digestive aid, long before it was proven to be helpful. In particular, cilantro can help relieve gas pressure, stimulate the process of digestion and relieve uncomfortable spasms. It is consumed alone, or in conjunction with other herbs and spices such as cardamom and fennel.
4. Provides Strong Anti-Oxidant And Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Though the two primary consumed parts of the plant are the leaves and seeds, in this case it is the leaves that we are after. Coriander leaves are an extremely rich source of many bioflavonoids and other compounds, including two very important ones names quercetin and kaempferol. These two compounds, though not exclusively, help reduce the influence of histamine, a chemical in the body that is a potent mediator of inflammation and allergies.
In addition, they are useful in treating inflammatory conditions of the joints, and may be considered helpful in treating arthritis.
5. Treating Canker Sores
Canker sores, also known as mouth ulcers, are those small, exposed areas of raw tissue along the gum line or inside of cheeks that may occur as a result of physical damage or from chemical or biological causes. Regardless of their cause, canker sores are extremely painful, and every effort should be made to speed up their healing. Coriander is one such herb that can expedite healing, as it contains a strong antiseptic compound known as citronelol.
Prior to toothpaste being invented, people would chew on stalks of coriander to freshen breath and clean the teeth.
6. Can Help Manage Diarrhea
Many of the flavonoids and essential oils found in coriander can offer assistance in treating diarrhea, regardless of the specific cause. Some of the compounds possess anti-bacterial action, to eliminate diarrhea causes as a result of pathogens, while many other compounds help soothe the stomach and intestines and promote a return in motility.
7. Coriander Can Help Reduce Levels of Triglycerides and Bad Cholesterol
Junk food is everywhere, necessitating the consumption of healthy foods to keep blood lipids in check. Coriander can help, as it may promote lipid oxidation for fuel, and promote breakdown of triglycerides and stored fat. This is in addition to promoting production of the good cholesterol molecule, HDL.
8. Cilantro Promotes Removal Of Toxic Heavy Metals From The Body
Heavy metals are a dangerous exposure we are all in risk of coming in contact with, since they can be found in our water supply, the food we consume, or even the medications we use. Heavy metals are implicated in various cancers, brain disorders and even damage to vital organs such as the heart and kidneys.
Cilantro acts as a “magnet”, being able to recruit these metal stores wherever they may be lodged in the body. The metals then become available in the blood, where they should be removed with help from the blue green algae known as spirulina.
9. Natural Odor Removing Agent
Cilantro is bacteriostatic, and can help in removal of toxins from the body. This makes it useful as a natural deodorant or odor concealing agent.
10. Can Promote Weight Loss
This is tied in to cilantro’s ability to promote use of fat, which under the right circumstances means using fat for fuel as the body’s primary energy source.
11. Promoting Bone Health
Cilantro contains Vitamin K, Calcium and Phosphorus, all important elements in the bone building process. Consuming just a little cilantro per day would more than likely meet the body’s daily Vitamin K intake requirement.
12. Helps Maintain Optimal Electrolyte and Fluid Balance
Thanks to the presence of potassium, cilantro assists in the maintenance of an ideal electrolyte and fluid balance. Potassium and sodium need to be kept within certain ranges, with deficiency of potassium negatively affecting blood volume.
13. May Help Preserve Heart Muscle
Following a heart attack, heart muscle is unable to function at 100%, and some heart muscle dies. Coriander may help prevent the death of this precious muscle, and keep your ticker working at optimal efficiency.
14. Protects From Salmonella Infection
Though not guaranteed, coriander possesses a powerful anti-bacterial agent that may help prevent the spread of this deadly infection. Salmonella is the leading cause of food born illness in the world today. The best way to prevent salmonella infection? Properly heat and cook foods, and avoid placing cooked food in areas in contact with raw meat (such as on cutting boards).
15. Boosting The Immune System
Coriander, like many other anti-oxidant rich foods, give a boost to the immune system, as it is better able to detect and handle threats to health. Do yourself a favor, skip this year’s flu season!
16. Reduces Severity of Menstrual Symptoms
Coriander can help reduce the cramps and bloating associated with the menstrual cycle, and also promotes healthy equilibrium of the hormones important to regulating your cycle.
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