The health benefits of coriander or cilantro include remedy for gastric disorders, supply of antioxidants, provides antimicrobial properties, provides liver protection, possesses anthelmintic properties and protects against lead and heavy metal toxicity.
Coriander, a sweet smelling annual herb is known very much for its culinary usage. Coriander leaves are used in various dishes, salads, stews as a garnish. But, more than just a garnish coriander leaves improve health. Coriander closely resembles flat leaf parsley. The resemblance of coriander and parsley makes many people confused so much that they resort to smell each of them to get the right one. While coriander has strong fragrance, parsley has a mild fragrance and this is perhaps one of the biggest differentiations between them.
While it is called coriander in English speaking countries, because the name comes from French ‘coriandre’ and Latin ‘coriandrum’. In the Americas, it is known by the name ‘cilantro’ from Spanish.
Coriander is believed to have been originated in the Mediterranean region. This theory also supports the fact that parsley has also originated in the Mediterranean region and both of them are very similar in looks. During the ancient times coriander spread from the Mediterranean region to neighboring parts of Asia, Africa and later to other parts of the world. At present, it is very popular in Europe, Asia and the Americas as well.
Right now it is cultivated in countries such as India, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Mediterranean countries, North African countries as well as in South American countries.
Apart from the leaves, coriander is also available in fruit form. These are very small and they are used as condiment, particularly in Indian cuisine.
Nutrition in coriander/ cilantro
The National Nutrient Database from the United States Department of Agriculture lists the nutrients found in coriander/ cilantro as follows
|Nutrients||Value per 100 g||Nutrients||Value per 100 g|
|Water||92.21 g||Energy||23 kcal|
|Protein||2.13 g||Total Lipid (fat)||0.52 g|
|Carbohydrate||3.67 g||Dietary Fiber||2.8 g|
|Sugars||0.87 g||Calcium||67 mg|
|Iron||1.77 mg||Magnesium||26 mg|
|Phosphorous||48 mg||Potassium||521 mg|
|Sodium||46 mg||Zinc||0.50 mg|
|Vitamin C||27 mg||Thiamin||0.067 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.162 mg||Niacin||1.114 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.149 mg||Folate||62 ug|
|Vitamin A||6748 IU||Vitamin E||2.50 mg|
|Vitamin K||310 ug|
Can I introduce coriander or cilantro into my baby’s diet? If yes, when?
As coriander is a herb with strong flavor and fragrance, it is advised to wait till your baby is at least 8 months of age. This is because, many spices and herbs are high in biochemicals that might upset the baby’s digestive system. So, in order to keep the baby away from any digestive problems, it is recommended to introduce herbs and spices to babies between the ages 8-10 months or older.
Health benefits of coriander or cilantro
Listed below are some of the benefits of coriander or cilantro.
Remedy for gastric disorders: When you think your baby is ready to be introduced with coriander, you can introduce to clear certain gastric diseases such as dyspepsia, flatulence, gripping pain, vomiting, etc. Coriander is also helpful in reducing gastric ulcers caused by acidity.
Supply of antioxidants: Coriander is a herb rich in antioxidants. It is an ideal herb that you can add to your baby’s diet. Oxidative stress causes by free radicals can be reduced to a great extent by antioxidants which coriander leaves supply.
Antimicrobial properties: The juice of coriander can be very effective in controlling certain infections causing microbes. Control of disease causing microbes in necessary in case of children as they are very much vulnerable to such infections. Studies show that coriander extracts and oil are highly effective in controlling bacterial growth. (Silva, et al, 2011).
Liver protection: Another property of coriander that has been proved in scientific studies is protection of liver. Infant liver can be damaged due to liver affecting diseases such as jaundice, hepatitis, cholestasis, etc. The damage caused to the liver can be cured by giving coriander. Coriander juice can be very effective in revitalizing the liver damaged to the above mentioned diseases. (Pandey, et al, 2011).
Anthelmintic properties: Babies can be easily infected by intestinal worms. These intestinal worms are parasites which generally settle down in the small intestine from where they rob the nutrients from the host. Coriander also possesses anthelmintic or killing intestinal worms. The biochemicals present in coriander have shown that it possesses high anthelmintic properties. (Chandan et al, 2011).
Protection from lead toxicity: Though in most developed nations strict laws are in place that keep away lead from humans, still some of us might be infected. Infants and children can be the most susceptible to this. You reduce lead toxicity in your child’s body by regularly including coriander in the diet. Studies now show that the extracts from coriander act as protective agents against lead toxicity. Apart from protecting against lead toxicity, coriander also protects from heavy metal toxicity from mercury and some inorganic compounds. (Momin, et al, 2012).
Measures to be taken while giving coriander or cilantro to your baby
Coriander allergy: Although, coriander allergy is very rare but it is still a concern. If your baby is allergic to certain foods such as apples, carrots, celery, kiwi fruit, peanuts, parsley, anise seeds, fennel seeds, etc. Then keep away coriander as it might cause an allergic reaction. When an allergic reaction is caused, please contact your pediatrician immediately.(Food Allergy, Mayo Clinic).
Buying fresh coriander: Fresh coriander ranges between light green and green in color. The best way to find fresh coriander is to smell it. Fresh coriander gives out a refreshing smell. Do not buy coriander in bulk, as it can get spoiled easily. Remember to let the leaves dry in the open before storing them in a refrigerator, as moisture can aggravate the spoilage.
How to cook coriander: Generally, coriander is added for fresh flavor just like parsley. You can add it during cooking or after cooking. But remember that most of the nutrients would be intact when added after cooking.
How to make coriander juice: There are two ways of making coriander juice. One is to directly put it in a blender and juicing it. Remember while juicing it be careful of the green stains. The other is by boiling. Boiling would give coriander a soup like consistency which is good when using as medicine.