Cilantro belongs to the Apiaceae family, like carrots, celery, and parsley. You’ve probably tasted cilantro in guacamole and salsas. Cilantro is a polarizing ingredient—people love it or hate it. Those who hate it think it has a soapy aftertaste, but if you love it, you can create a cilantro menu and include it in all your dishes—from starter to dessert.
Take your pick from this Sample Cilantro Menu:
Cilantro is the Spanish name for coriander, but it is also known as Chinese parsley. People often confuse the terms “cilantro,” “coriander,” and “parsley,” so let’s clear this up!
Cilantro vs. Coriander
Essentially, cilantro and coriander are the same plant, but cilantro usually refers to the leaves, while coriander refers to the seeds. Then there’s the issue of geography. The term “cilantro” is used mainly in the Americas, but in places like Europe, both leaves and seeds are called “coriander.”
Cilantro vs. Parsley
Parsley has slightly pointed, flat leaves, while cilantro’s leaves are more rounded and have curved edges. Cilantro has a stronger flavor than parsley and is used in the kitchen as a garnish or as a key ingredient, while parsley is mainly used as a garnish (although we think it deserves a more notable place in your cuisine).
Cilantro is loaded with antioxidants such as beta-carotene. It contains vitamin K and small amounts of folate, potassium, and manganese.
Thanks to its powerful antioxidants, cilantro can offer excellent health benefits.
Promotes Heavy Metal Detox
Heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, aluminum, and mercury can play a role in the emergence of many health conditions, including heart disease and neurological issues. A study conducted on mice to investigate the effects of cilantro on lead exposure showed that cilantro significantly lowered the presence of lead in the femur and kidneys. Additional studies found that cilantro may protect against oxidative stress caused by lead exposure. Another team of researchers concluded that antibiotics used to treat infections were ineffective against heavy metals. They conducted a study on the impact of cilantro used in combination with antiviral agents and found that cilantro significantly contributed to removing the heavy metal deposits and infections completely.
Has Anti-inflammatory Properties
Cilantro not only helps to detox the body but may also protect it from inflammation and infection. Animal studies suggest that cilantro extracts have significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Lifestyle plays a crucial role in the development of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. After 10 years of research, scientists concluded that spices such as turmeric, black pepper, licorice, clove, ginger, garlic, cilantro, and cinnamon may help prevent neurodegenerative diseases. This might help to explain why the presence of these diseases among people living in the Asian subcontinent, where these spices are consumed regularly, is much lower than in western countries.
Researchers investigated the effects of cilantro essential oil against candida and results showed that the oil has antifungal properties. Additional research demonstrated that cilantro may also be effective in fighting listeria. A compound found in cilantro, called dodecenal, may also have antibacterial effects against salmonella.
May Help Prevent Cancer and Heart Disease
Research has shown that cilantro may help prevent the development of deadly health conditions such as cancer and heart disease. A study conducted in Thailand suggested that cilantro may inhibit the formation of heterocyclic amine (HCA) in meats during cooking. HCA is a compound that forms when meat is cooked at high temperatures—and it is associated with higher risk of cancer.
A team of researchers in India investigated the antidiabetic and antioxidant effects of cilantro in diabetic rats. Results showed that cilantro extracts decreased blood sugar levels and may help protect liver function and help in the treatment of diabetes. Additional studies found that cilantro may be able to prevent heart attack and oxidative damage associated with heart disease.
A study, conducted again in India, aimed to explore the anti-anxiety activity of cilantro extracts using different animal models of anxiety in mice. Results suggest that cilantro may have anti-anxiety effects similar to Valium.
A team of Korean researchers investigated the impact of cilantro extracts on skin, and found that cilantro may help prevent the premature aging of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV).
How to Use Cilantro
The best way to enjoy cilantro is to keep cilantro fresh, chop it, and add it to hot dishes such as soups at the end of the cooking process. In this way, cilantro maintains its flavor and health benefits.
It is easy to incorporate cilantro into your weekly menu because this herb makes an excellent addition to salsas, guacamole, smoothies, and drinks. Cilantro is becoming popular thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and you can find it in many detox juice recipes.