Cilantro, otherwise known as coriander, is a herb commonly used in hundreds of dishes across cultures worldwide. It can be a flavorful part of curries, salads, and soups. Some individuals even use cilantro as a garnish on mashed potatoes, steaks, and other dishes. Culturally in the United States, cilantro is the term for the leaves of the plant, while coriander refers to the seeds.
This plant has a wide variety of nutritional benefits thanks to its many health-boosting compounds. Individuals will often try organic cilantro or coriander seeds as natural remedies for various conditions. Cilantro may help as a natural treatment for high blood sugar as well as a high cholesterol treatment. Of course, individuals will benefit from understanding the full variety of cilantro health benefits.
Lowers Blood Sugar
Coriander seeds and cilantro have both been shown to have some effect on an individual's blood sugar. Namely, they may be able to moderately reduce their blood sugar. This is true even in individuals who do not have diabetes or prediabetes. Some foods can protect diabetes patients against blood sugar spikes by slowing the amount of sugar released into the blood over time. However, cilantro works differently. Rather than affecting the speed of digestion, the cilantro plant is thought to increase the body's production of enzymes that remove blood sugar.
In an animal study, the animals that had a dietary supplement of coriander seeds were also shown to have significantly lower blood sugar. Another animal study indicated in animals with diabetes, the leaves of the cilantro plant had nearly the same efficacy at blood sugar reduction as prescription diabetes medication. However, there have not been many conclusive human studies done to date. More research needs to be compiled and published regarding human participants before a definitive statement can be made regarding the efficacy of cilantro on blood sugar management.
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May Lower Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol
Cilantro has a positive effect on several risk factors for heart disease. Consuming cilantro can positively affect the cardiovascular system so much that it may reduce an individual's risk of developing heart disease or worsening heart disease that already exists. More research needs to be done, but the preliminary findings have been promising. One of these areas is in cilantro's ability to lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is the 'bad' type of cholesterol found in the blood.
In the same study that showed cilantro lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the plant also appeared to increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is more commonly known as the 'good' cholesterol in the blood. However, this study has only been done on rats, so more research needs to be done to determine if these findings can be replicated in humans. These preliminary findings do indicate that there are reasons coriander seeds have traditionally been used to treat cardiovascular illness.
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Reduces Blood Pressure
Another cardiovascular health benefit of cilantro is that it may be able to reduce blood pressure. High blood pressure is a medical condition that affects millions of Americans. Blood pressure medication is often prescribed to help patients manage the condition. Several factors can contribute to high blood pressure. Stress can have a temporary effect on blood pressure, and chronic stress can cause blood pressure to become consistently elevated. Sleep deprivation also appears to affect blood pressure negatively. Even a few weeks of sleep deprivation can have a strong enough effect on an individual's blood pressure to cause permanent or semi-permanent changes.
If individuals have high blood pressure, their cardiovascular system is being constantly worn down by the press of blood against their blood vessel walls. This increases their risk of heart attack, stroke, heart disease, and other health complications. In addition to using whatever management plan is put together by a doctor, they may use cilantro and other herbal and dietary supplements to help manage their blood pressure.
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Rich In Antioxidants
Cilantro is full of antioxidants, which are one of the most important parts of an individual's diet. They affect nearly every system throughout the body, from the skin to the brain. The human body contains free radicals, which cause cells to age, die, and become prematurely damaged. Antioxidants are compounds that destroy the free radicals in the body. This helps promote healthy cell growth and slow the overall aging process. Some studies also indicate antioxidants can boost the health of the immune system.
The antioxidants in cilantro have been specifically shown in multiple studies to reduce inflammation in the body by reducing the immune system's inflammatory response. Some of the compounds in cilantro include tocopherols, quercetin, and terpinene. Animal and test-tube studies have shown these compounds may have effects that protect the brain, improve the immune system, and prevent the development of cancer. However, more research on humans is necessary before conclusive statements can be made.
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Promotes Healthy Digestion
Cilantro can help promote healthy digestion. Like the majority of plant matter individuals may consume, cilantro is high in fiber, which helps regulate an individual's digestive processes and bowel movements. Additional studies indicate when oil is extracted from coriander seeds, it can accelerate the digestive process. In a study involving patients with irritable bowel syndrome, thirty drops of an herbal coriander medication taken three times each day had a significant effect. The volunteers experienced a strong decrease in their abdominal pain, discomfort, and bloating when compared to the placebo group. In traditional Iranian cultural medicine, coriander seed extract can be used as an appetite stimulant. Studies in rats indicate coriander can increase appetite. However, more formal studies need to be done on humans.
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Some research indicates that cilantro may be able to help improve an individual's anxiety. The information indicating that cilantro improves anxiety comes from a study conducted on animals. The study, published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, claims that high levels of cilantro can produce anti-anxiety effects that match the popular anxiety medication known as diazepam. This study specifically examined high levels of cilantro extract. It is vital to note that diazepam has many potential side effects, including memory issues, confusion, muscle weakness, and hallucinations. Cilantro extract does not appear to have these side effects. However, more evidence is needed to see how much cilantro can actually improve anxiety in humans.
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Soothes The Skin
Cilantro shows promise as a way to soothe skin irritations. Evidence shows that cilantro soothes the skin from conditions such as sunburns, poison ivy, and hives. It is able to do this due to its natural antihistamines. Thus, cilantro is able to soothe the immune system response against allergens that causes these reactions. Information shows that individuals can mix cilantro with coconut oil and apply the topical solution to their dry skin, poison ivy rash, sunburn, and hives. The same effect can be gotten from cilantro and water. Cilantro may be helpful for dermatitis. Some individuals use cilantro juice for acne, hyperpigmentation, and other skin issues, though additional research is necessary to determine if this is an effective treatment.
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Prevents Foodborne Illnesses
According to evidence, cilantro prevents foodborne illnesses. Part of the reason for this is that cilantro contains dodecenal, an antimicrobial compound. Dodecenal protects the body from infections that stem from tainted food. One example is Salmonella, which can cause a life-threatening case of food poisoning. Research from the International Journal of Food Microbiology states that cilantro is also quite effective against Listeria monocytogenes. This is a specific bacteria strain responsible for listeriosis. Although cilantro clearly has strong natural antibacterial properties, individuals should still take care to clean and cook all of their food properly.
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Reduces Oxidative Stress
Extensive research has linked oxidative stress to quite a few degenerative conditions. Examples include Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, arthritis, and several types of cancer. Thankfully, there are many ways to reduce oxidative stress, one of which is by eating cilantro. Cilantro has antioxidant properties that are quite strong. Part of the reason is that cilantro contains a flavonoid called quercetin, which helps protect against free radical damage. In addition, an in vitro study reported a direct link between cilantro and the herb protecting against oxidative stress. Thus, individuals may want to consider adding cilantro as a regular part of their diet to prevent oxidative stress and, thus, many degenerative conditions.
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Prevents Urinary Tract Infections
One of the many factors that can result in urinary tract infections is bacterial growth. Reports claim that the antibacterial compounds in cilantro can help keep an individual's urinary tract healthy. Specifically, evidence suggests that these compounds in cilantro can keep the urinary tract free of unhealthy bacteria. Coriander seeds appear to be the part of the cilantro plant that can prevent urinary tract infections the most. In addition, the information shows that the seeds can also relieve symptoms if the infection has already occurred. Coriander seeds can be added to many recipes. Individuals can also soak some coriander seeds in water overnight and drink the water in the morning.