Cilantro may be the one herb that divides the world. It’s one of those foods that you either love or hate—some love the herbaceous notes it adds to dishes while others say the plant has a soapy or dirt taste. Those who are fans of the edible plant use both its leaves and dried seeds for garnishing and seasoning their food.
If you’re on the side of the non-cilantro eaters, you may want to reconsider finding ways to incorporate it into your recipes. It turns out that this herby plant may give you some stellar benefits. We spoke with The Nutrition Twins, Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT, authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure and members of our medical expert board, to find out what those benefits are. Read on, and for more, don’t miss One Major Effect of Eating Kale, Says Dietitian.
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in this country, and cilantro helps to fight it by raise the body’s ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, even while lowering ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol,” says The Nutrition Twins.
“Both high LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure are risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” they say.
The Nutrition Twins state that cilantro is a good source of antioxidants. These antioxidants help to slow the aging process. This includes slowing the visible signs of aging by mopping up free radicals that cause cell damage.
“Research shows that cilantro may even help to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays and protect against photoaging,” says The Nutrition Twins. “Of course, this would require regular cilantro intake to consistently get enough antioxidants to make a difference.”
In research published in the British Journal of Nutrition, cilantro has been shown to stimulate an enzyme that removes sugar from the blood and appears to have an insulin-like activity.
“Cilantro works so well to lower blood sugar that people who are on blood sugar-lowering medication and people with low blood sugar are warned about cilantro having the same effects,” says The Nutrition Twins.
Along with tea and meditation, there’s a new method in town to reduce anxiety.
It seems that cilantro may be a powerful source when in need of a calming effect by helping to reduce anxiety symptoms. This includes heart palpitations, sweating, irritability, chest pain, rapid breathing, and muscle tightening.
“Research shows that cilantro increased levels of the body’s feel-good/anti-anxiety chemicals, dopamine and noradrenaline, in all brain regions, while the prescription anti-anxiety drug Diazepam increased the same brain chemicals only in the hippocampus,” says The Nutrition Twins.
As stated in findings posted in the Journal of Food Sciences, cooking with cilantro seeds, also known as coriander seeds, has been shown to lower levels of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) in fried beef patties. “HCAs are formed when meats are cooked at high temperatures,” says The Nutrition Twins.