Cilantro - A Common Kitchen Herb with Gourmet Health Benefits

Cilantro - A Common Kitchen Herb with Gourmet Health Benefits

The herb we call cilantro in American are the leaf sections of the plant most of the world refers to it as the coriander plant.  Its botanical name is Coriandrum sativum. In America, we call it cilantro. Dried or ground cilantro seeds are the spice coriander. One plant producing two wonderful food additives. The entire plant is edible but the leaves and seeds are used primarily in cooking.

The origins of cilantro date back to the earliest of human cuisine and throughout civilization its use was widespread, spanning Africa, Asia, Europe, China, India and the Middle East. 

Coriander seeds were discovered in Israel, in a cave near the Dead Sea, dated from about 6000 BCE.  3,000-year-old seeds were buried in Egyptian tombs, and cilantro has been found growing wild in Egypt and Sudan.  It is one of the oldest herbs on record. The Bible in Exodus, compares coriander to Manna: “And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed.”  

In 1670, cilantro was one of the first spices brought to and cultivated in North America, and were treasured by the early settlers. 

Cilantro is easy to grow and can thrive in a small pot on a windowsill, or in the outdoors.

Cilantro and Coriander

Even though cilantro and coriander are of the same plant, their flavors and textures are very different and cannot be substituted for each other. Generally, the coriander seeds are toasted, and ground as a spice for cooking; otherwise it has a tough texture that is difficult to chew. Although, coriander is citrusy by nature, it has a warm, nutty-like flavor that makes whole coriander seeds perfect used in pickling and brining. Whole coriander seeds also retain their flavor better and can easily be ground as needed. As a spice, ground coriander is used in curry dishes and baked goods.

Cilantro is often used as a garnish, added as a last-minute flavor to foods but it is also one of the most versatile herbs there is. It is used for revving up rice, boosting a bagel, spicing up a stir-fry, and marinating meats; everything from guacamole, curries, soups, salads, sandwiches, salsa, sauces, and more. Not only is cilantro flavorful with limitless culinary applications, it has numerous recognized healing properties. Coriander seeds, a yield of cilantro also contains a richness of health benefits. 

12 Benefits of Cilantro

1. Skin Constitution & Complexion

The Journal of Medicinal Food, a published a 2014 study investigating the extract of cilantro leaves for its antioxidant activities to protect against photo-aging of skin caused from Ultra Violet B radiation. Photo-aging is the degradation of skin from the repetitive exposure to solar radiation characterized by roughness, thickening of skin, reduced elasticity, increased wrinkles, spotted pigmentation, and other prominent features.

Their results support cilantro demonstrates it can significantly decrease expression from Ultra Violet B damage, protect skin cells, and indicates it prevents degradation and photo-aging of skin.

2. Powerful Cleansing Agent

Heavy metals such as aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury can enter your bloodstream through environmental pollutants, farmed fish, some vaccines or dental fillings, tattoos, and various products. Heavy metals can take a heavy toll on the body, leading to neurological conditions, infertility, heart disease and more.  Elevated levels of heavy metal, particularly cadmium have been linked to liver disease. Studies show that cilantro helps detoxify the liver, eliminating heavy metals and toxins.

3. Super-herb

Cilantro is a valuable source of daily vitamins and minerals. It only takes a little bit of cilantro to deliver much of the body’s nutritional daily need of Vitamin A, C, K, potassium and manganese.  Here is a list of a few of the vital nutrients raw cilantro leaves offer.

Beta carotene







Pantothenic acid



Riboflavin (B2)


Thiamine (B1)

Niacin (B3)

Vitamin A 

Vitamin B6

Vitamin C

Vitamin E

Vitamin K


4. Fights Food Poisoning

Cilantro does more than just detox the body. It is a natural antibacterial. A research study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology found cilantro to be effective in fighting against Listeria monocytogenes, a strain of bacteria that can cause food poisoning, waterborne diseases and dysentery.

5. Raises Mood & Calms the Nerves

Another study published by the Indian Journal of Pharmacology stated that as plants have long been used as folk medicines, and plants have been used to calm the nerves and raise the mood. Using high levels of cilantro extract on animals, this powerful herb was shown to have natural sedative properties. Calming the nerves, improving quality of sleep, cilantro produced anti-anxiety effects as strong as the prescription drug: valium (diazepam tablets). 

Cilantro could be touted as spiritual nourishment with no scary side effects. Valium has a long list of potential dangers; which include, agitation, aggression, confusion, hallucinations, loss of coordination, risk-taking behaviors, impaired memory, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, can slow down breathing and possibly lead to death. 

6. Improves Natural Sleep Cycles

Cilantro has a natural sedative effect, relieving anxiety and improving natural sleep cycles. 

7. Regulates Menstrual Cycle

Cilantro is an awesome source of iron. For heavy menstrual cycles, cilantro is a good way to help ensure your iron levels are up. Higher levels of iron can decrease cramping, bloating and pain during the cycle. In addition, cilantro regulates the endocrine gland, balances hormones for regular menstrual cycles.

8. Regulates Blood Pressure

Cilantro has potassium and potassium acts as an electrolyte, helping to balance and regulate fluids, heart rate and blood pressure as well as signaling nerves and muscle contractions.

9. Natural Anti-histamine

Histamine is a protein that activates symptoms of allergies, such as sneezing, watering eyes, shortness of breath or chest tightening, scratchy throat or swollen lips, tongue, eyes or face.  Cilantro works as a natural anti-histamine and can be used internally and externally. It also calms skin irritants, soothes sunburns, and allergic reactions such as caused by poison ivy and hives. For external use, blend cilantro with water, strain and apply to the skin. Drink the remaining juice.

10. Food Preservative

Cilantro is high in antioxidants, natural chemicals that inhibit oxidation.  When added to other foods, cilantro acts as a natural preservative, delaying and preventing spoilage, keeping food fresher for longer.  

11. Protects Against Oxidative Stress 

Again, cilantro has strong antioxidant properties that protect against oxidative stress. Many degenerative diseases are linked to oxidative stress; which includes: heart disease, Alzheimers, eye diseases, and some cancers. 

12. Aids Digestion

For relief of indigestion and heartburn, cilantro produces digestive enzymes, easing bloating, stomach cramps, and aids in digestion.

Many studies suggest that cilantro can help with desired weight loss, decrease the risk of diabetes, and heart disease, increase energy, and beautify hair and skin. The list of benefits is numerous. No wonder this humble culinary herb has been flavoring foods for thousands of years.

It is easy to add cilantro to the diet and is tastes best when added raw or towards the end of cooking, maintaining as much of its flavor and texture as possible.