Cilantro & Coriander seeds

Like other spices coriander is available throughout the year providing a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of both citrus peel and sage.

The fruit of the coriander plant contains two seeds which, when dried, are the portions used as the dried spice. When ripe, the seeds are yellowish-brown in color with longitudinal ridges. Coriander seeds are available whole or in ground powder form.

Cilantro, leaf, fresh
0.50 cup
(8.00 grams)
Calories: 2
GI: very low

NutrientDRI/DV

 vitamin K28%

 vitamin C3%

 vitamin A3%

Health Benefits

Coriander seeds have a health-supporting reputation that is high on the list of the healing spices. In parts of Europe, coriander has traditionally been referred to as an "anti-diabetic" plant. In parts of India, it has traditionally been used for its anti-inflammatory properties. In the United States, coriander has recently been studied for its cholesterol-lowering effects.

Control of Blood Sugar, Cholesterol and Free Radical Production

Recent research studies (though still on animals) have confirmed all three of these healing effects. When coriander was added to the diet of diabetic mice, it helped stimulate their secretion of insulin and lowered their blood sugar. When given to rats, coriander reduced the amount of damaged fats (lipid peroxides) in their cell membranes. And when given to rats fed a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet, coriander lowered levels of total and LDL (the "bad" cholesterol), while actually increasing levels of HDL (the "good" cholesterol). Research also suggests that the volatile oils found in the leaves of the coriander plant, commonly known as cilantro, may have antimicrobial properties.

A Phytonutrient-Dense Herb

Many of the above healing properties of coriander can be attributed to its exceptional phytonutrient content. Coriander's volatile oil is rich in beneficial phytonutrients, including carvone, geraniol, limonene, borneol, camphor, elemol, and linalool. Coriander's flavonoids include quercitin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and epigenin. Plus, coridander contains active phenolic acid compounds, including caffeic and chlorogenic acid.

Spice Up Your Life and Subdue the Salmonella

Coriander (also called cilantro) contains an antibacterial compound that may prove to be a safe, natural means of fighting Salmonella, a frequent and sometimes deadly cause of foodborne illness, suggests a study published in the June 2004 issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

Working together, U.S. and Mexican researchers isolated the compound, dodecenal, which laboratory tests showed is twice as effective as the commonly used antibiotic drug gentamicin at killing Salmonella. Since most natural antibacterial agents found in food have weak activity, study leader Isao Kubo, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley, noted, "We were surprised that dodecenal was such a potent antibiotic."

While dodecenal is found in comparable amounts in both the seeds and fresh leaves of coriander, the leaves are usually eaten more frequently since they are one of the main ingredients in salsa, along with tomatoes, onions and green chillies.

In addition to dodecenal, eight other antibiotic compounds were isolated from fresh coriander, inspiring the food scientists to suggest that dodecenal might be developed as a tasteless food additive to prevent foodborne illness. While this may prove to be a useful idea, who wants to settle for "tasteless" food protection? Our suggestion at the World's Healthiest Foods? Enjoy more fresh salsa and other delicious recipes featuring coriander!

Description

Coriander is considered both an herb and a spice since both its leaves and its seeds are used as a seasoning condiment. Fresh coriander leaves are more commonly known as cilantro and bear a strong resemblance to Italian flat leaf parsley. This is not surprising owing to the fact that they belong to the same plant family (Umbelliferae).

The fruit of the coriander plant contains two seeds which, when dried, are the parts that are used as the dried spice. When ripe, the seeds are yellowish-brown in color with longitudinal ridges. They have a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of both citrus peel and sage. Coriander seeds are available in whole or ground powder form.

The name coriander is derived from the Greek word koris, which means bug. It may have earned this name because of the "buggy" offensive smell that it has when unripe. The Latin name for coriander is Coriandrum sativum.

History

The use of coriander can be traced back to 5,000 BC, making it one of the world's oldest spices. It is native to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions and has been known in Asian countries for thousands of years. Coriander was cultivated in ancient Egypt and given mention in the Old Testament. It was used as a spice in both Greek and Roman cultures, the latter using it to preserve meats and flavor breads. The early physicians, including Hippocrates, used coriander for its medicinal properties, including as an aromatic stimulant.

The Russian Federation, India, Morocco and Holland are among the countries that commercially produce coriander seeds. Coriander leaves (cilantro) are featured in the culinary traditions of Latin American, Indian and Chinese cuisine.

How to Select and Store

Fresh coriander (or cilantro) leaves should look vibrantly fresh and be deep green in color. They should be firm, crisp and free from yellow or brown spots.

Whenever possible, buy whole coriander seeds instead of coriander powder since the latter loses its flavor more quickly, and coriander seeds can be easily ground with a mortar and pestle.

Even through dried herbs and spices are widely available in supermarkets, explore the local spice stores or ethnic markets in your area. Oftentimes, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness compared to those offered in regular markets. Just like with other dried spices, try to select organically grown dried coriander since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated.

Coriander seeds and coriander powder should be kept in an opaque, tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. Ground coriander will keep for about four to six months, while the whole seeds will stay fresh for about one year.

Since it is highly perishable, fresh coriander should always be stored in the refrigerator. If possible, it should stored with its roots still attached by placing the roots in a glass of water and covering the leaves with a loosely fitting plastic bag. If the roots have been removed, wrap the coriander leaves in a damp cloth or paper towel and place them in a plastic bag. Whole coriander will last up to one week, while coriander leaves will last about three days.

Cilantro may also be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers, yet should not be thawed before use since it will lose much of its crisp texture. Alternatively, you can place it in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews.

How to Enjoy

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

Safety

Nutritional Profile

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that that amount represents (similar to other information presented in the website, this DV is calculated for 25-50 year old healthy woman); the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's Healthiest Foods Rating. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. Read detailed information on our
Food and Recipe Rating System.

Cilantro, leaf, fresh
0.50 cup
8.00 grams
Calories: 2
GI: very low
NutrientAmountDRI/DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
vitamin K24.80 mcg28269.6excellent
vitamin A26.99 mcg RAE329.3good
vitamin C2.16 mg328.2good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DRI/DV>=75% OR
Density>=7.6 AND DRI/DV>=10%
very good DRI/DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DRI/DV>=5%
good DRI/DV>=25% OR
Density>=1.5 AND DRI/DV>=2.5%

References

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