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Cilantro (Coriander leaves) nutrition facts

Cilantro is one of the popular Mediterranean herb which commonly recognized as leaf-coriander in Asia. It is widely employed in savory dishes in almost all parts of the world. The herb carries many notable plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health-promoting properties. Plant coriander is quite similar to dill in terms of utility where both its leaves as well as seeds can be used in cuisune.

Botanically, coriander herb belongs to the family of Apiaceae, in the genus: Coriandrum. Scientific name: Coriandrum sativum.

cilantro herb plant coriander leaves
Cilantro herb-
Coriandrum sativum.
Coriander leaves. Note for ferny pinnate, oval, flat, parsely like leaves at base.

Cilantro herb is native to the Mediterranean, and Asia Minor (Turkey) regions. It is a perennial herb but grown as annual which requires well-draining, fertile soil supplemented with warm summer climates to flourish. For leaf coriander, the plant is allowed to reach only about 9 to 15 inches in height. If left to grow further, it may reach about 5-7 feet tall, bears umbels of small white or light pink flowers by midsummer, followed by round-oval, numerous, aromatic coriander seeds.

Leaf-coriander features dark green, hairless, soft leaves that vary in shape broad-lobed near the base, and slender and feathery higher up near its flowering stems. Its leaves and stem possess slightly citrus flavor.

Coriander seeds feature tiny, yellowish brown, round to oval with vertical ridges and have a flavor that is aromatic, sweet and citrus, but also slightly peppery.

Health benefits of cilantro leaves (coriander)

  • Cilantro herb is very low in calories and contains no cholesterol. However, its deep-green leaves possess good amounts of antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins, and dietary fiber, which may help reduce LDL or "bad cholesterol" levels in the blood.

  • Its leaves and seeds contain many essential volatile oils such as borneol, linalool, cineole, cymene, terpineol, dipentene, phellandrene, pinene, and terpinolene.

  • The leaves and stem tips are also rich in numerous anti-oxidant polyphenolic flavonoids such as quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and epigenin.

  • The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is essential for red blood cell production. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.

  • It is also rich in many vital vitamins, including folic-acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-A, beta carotene, vitamin-C, which are essential for optimum health. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant. 100 g of cilantro leaves provide 30% of daily recommended levels of vitamin-C.

  • It provides 6748 IU of vitamin-A per 100 g, about 225% of recommended daily intake. Vitamin-A, an important fat soluble vitamin and anti-oxidant, is also required for maintaining healthy mucusa and skin and is also essential for vision. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin-A and flavonoids (carotenes) may help protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

  • Cilantro is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K; provide about 258% of DRI. Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone mass building through promotion of osteotrophic activity in the bones. It also has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.

Wonderful! Cilantro leaves provide only 23 calories/100 g, but their phyto-nutrients profile is no less than any superfoods around us!

This humble backyard herb provides (% of RDA/100g):
15% of folates,
11% of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine),
45% of vitamin C,
225% of vitamin A,
258% of vitamin K,
22% of iron and
18% of manganese.
(Note: RDA-Recommended daily allowance).

Selection and storage

Fresh cilantro leaves as well as seeds can be readily available in the markets and herb stores all around the year. Always buy fresh leaves since it is superior in flavor and rich in many vital vitamins and anti-oxidants like beta carotene, vitamin-C, and folates. While buying, look for vibrant green color leaves with firm stems. Its leaves should be free from any kind of spoilage or yellow discoloration.

Try to buy fresh leaves from the local organic farms since the herb has an intense refreshing flavor in addition to that it will assure you of superior quality that is free from pesticide residues.

Once at home, wash in clean water, discard roots, old or any bruised leaves. Fresh cilantro (coriander) should be stored inside the refrigerator in a zip pouch or wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. Use as early as possible since it loses flavor and nutrients quickly if kept for longer periods. Coriander seeds as well as its oil are available in the markets. The seeds are basically used as spice.

Medicinal uses

  • The herb parts (leaves, root, and stem) of the cilantro (coriander) plant have been found to have anti-septic and carminative properties.

  • The herb contains many phytochemical compounds; phenolic flavonoid antioxidants like quercitin and essential oils have found application in many traditional medicines as analgesic, aphrodisiac, antispasmodic, flatus-relieving (carminative), depurative, deodorant, digestive, fungicidal, lipolytic, stimulant and stomachic. (Medical-disclaimer).

  • Coriander seed oil has been found application in many traditional medicines as analgesic, aphrodisiac, anti-spasmodic, deodorant, digestive, carminative, fungicidal, lipolytic (weight loss), stimulant and stomachic.

Culinary uses

Fresh leaves should be washed thoroughly in the water in order to remove sand and dirt and to rid off any residual pesticides. While in the kitchen, it is generally used just before preparing recipes in order to keep the fragrance and aromatic flavor intact.

  • Cilantro (coriander) leaves has been used in preparation of many popular dishes in Asian and east European cuisine since ancient times. When added in combination with other household herbs and spices, it enhances flavor and taste of vegetable, chicken, fish and meat dishes.

  • The herb has also been used in the preparation of soups, and sauces. Popular Mediterranean cilantro pesto uses fresh cilantro, red pepper, garlic cloves, olive oil, pumpkin seeds with few drops of lemon juie, is a great addition on pasta, in sandwiches or as a marinade to fish, poultry...etc dishes.

  • Freshly chopped and sautéed coriander leaves are a great addition in green salad.

  • Coriander seed powder is one of the main ingredients used in the preparation of garam masala powder.

<<-Read Coriander seeds nutrition facts.

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Further Reading:

1. USDA National Nutrient Database.

2. Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page-Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk.

3. UC Vegetable Research & Information center- Cilantro production in California -pdf.

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