A few weeks ago I was having a discussion with a friend about the benefits of certain herbs and spices. Cilantro was one of the many herbs we spoke about along with its benefits. I thought this was one herb that is under rated. As a Dietitian specializing in the culinary nutrition and using food as medicine I believe that the consumption of whole, unprocessed foods is best for our bodies.
By this time of year we are looking for something fresh and cilantro has just the cure. If you take cilantro and close your eyes, you are sure to smell spring and feel the warm weather moving in. Cilantro is an herb that is bright green in color and looks similar to parsley. It has many healing benefits properties including being packed with vitamins and minerals.
When growing cilantro – if left to overgrow the plant flowers and produces seeds, which we may know as coriander seeds. The leafy part of cilantro provides vitamins the coriander seeds supply us with minerals.
Benefits of Cilantro
1. Cilantro helps the body rid of heavy metals in our body.
We have all heard about the arsenic, aluminum and mercury that are found in some of our foods. These metals live on in our tissues and can reek havoc leading to hormonal imbalances, heart disease and neurological conditions. Cilantro binds to these toxic metals and takes them away from the tissue helping them through our bodies and excretes the metals through elimination. It is a great food to include when detoxing the body.
2. Cilantro has antioxidants which helps fight against oxidative damage caused by some disease states such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease and many more.
3. Who doesn’t like a good sleep? Cilantro can help you improve you sleep cycle through its sedative effects. The Indian Journal of Pharmacology found that high levels of cilantro extract helped with sleeping and anti anxiety effects with out the side effects of prescribed sleep aids.
4. The coriander seeds from cilantro can help with menstrual cramps, bloating and pain as well as the hormones that regulate menstrual cycle.
5. Have skin problems or like me suffer from poison ivy after being out in the garden? Cilantro has natural antihistamines to help calm the immune system response against allergens. Try blending the cilantro with coconut oil and apply topically to sooth sunburns, dry skin or poison ivy.
Please note that if you have an allergy to fennel, dill aniseed or caraway seeds you may have a mild allergic reaction to cilantro, although it is rare.
Storing Cilantro – give it a quick rinse in fresh water and remove any dirt or grit. Store in upright jar with a little water and cover the top of cilantro with a plastic bag.