The scholar Ibn al-Qayyim in his Prophetic Medicine mentions coriander and the benefits of eating coriander with certain meat to rectify its negative effects on the body.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), or cilantro as it is also known as, is used as both a herb (the leaves) and a spice (the seeds). Fresh coriander leaves resemble its close family member, flat-leaf parsley. Coriander seeds are dried when used as a spice, and have a similar flavor to citrus peel and sage, they are available in whole or ground forms.
The oil found in coriander is rich in a variety of phytonutrients including carvone, geraniol, limonene, borneol, camphor, elemol and linalool. Coriander also contains flavonoids and active phenolic acid compounds, including caffeic and chlorogenic acid, which have been found helpful in fighting cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Coriander is a source of magnesium and manganese.
When coriander was added to the diet of diabetic mice, it helped stimulate their secretion of insulin and lowered their blood sugar.
Coriander was given to rats that had been fed a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet. The spice lowered total cholesterol and triglycerides significantly.
Researchers isolated a compound in coriander called dodecenal, which in laboratory tests was twice as effective as the commonly used antibiotic drug gentamicin at killing salmonella.
Researchers examined the effect of coriander combined with other spices on digestion and found the spice mix enhanced the activities of pancreatic enzymes and also stimulated bile flow and secretion.
Tips on Using Coriander
- Fresh coriander leaves should be vibrantly fresh and deep green in color.
- Buy whole coriander seeds instead of coriander powder, as the powder loses its flavor more quickly. Whole coriander can be ground at home in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar.
- Fresh coriander should be stored in the refrigerator, where it will keep for about three days.
- Add coriander seeds and fresh coriander to soups, broths, curries and salad dressings.
- Coriander is easy to grow at home in the garden or on a windowsill. The seeds will sprout quicker if they are broken up. Crack the seeds with a rolling pin or pestle and mortar so that each seed divides into 2 halves, before planting them in warm soil.
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- Gray AM, Flatt PR. Insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity of the traditional anti-diabetic plant Coriandrum sativum (coriander). Br J Nutr. 1999 Mar,8 1 (3):203-209.
- Kubo I, Fujita. K, Kubo A, Nihei K, Ogura T. Antibacterial activity of coriander volatile compounds against salmonella choleraesuis. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Jun 2;52 (11): 3329-3332.
- Platel K, Rao A, Saraswathi G, Srinivasan K. Digestive stimulant action of three Indian spice mixes in experimental rats. Department of Biochemistry and nutrition, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore 570 013, India.