Cilantro, also called Chinese parsley, is known as coriander in India. Ayurvedic healers have, for centuries, used cilantro leaves and seeds to heal digestive problems and allergies.
One-fourth cup of cilantro (about 4 grams) contains 1 calorie, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbs, 0 grams of protein, 2 percent daily value of Vitamin C and 5 percent daily value of vitamin A. It also contains vitamin K and small amounts of folate, potassium, manganese and choline, as well as the antioxidants beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Quercetin, a vital flavonoid in cilantro, has been shown to fight plaque build-up in your arteries, thus promoting cardiovascular health. The organic acids found in cilantro have been found to help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL).
Studies show that cilantro acts as an effective ‘biosorbent,’ meaning it can suck up heavy metals that are toxic to human health. Cilantro’s secret may lie in the structure of the outer walls of the microscopic cells that make up the plant. They have an architectural ideal for sorption of heavy metals.
1. Just use the leaves: Wash, chop and sprinkle fresh cilantro leaves over your food. Be it dal, steamed rice, soup, salad, omelette, stir-fry or yogurt raita, this humble herb perks up the flavors in a jiffy, while lending its generous array of benefits.
2. Make instant mint-cilantro chutney: wash and clean the herbs, a handful each. Place them in the food processor with a little sea salt, 1 green chili (optional) and the juice of 1 lemon. Give it a good whiz. Enjoy this peppy, antioxidant-rich chutney with toast, tortillas, chapati or rice. Cilantro pairs beautifully with garlic, tomato, cucumber, peanuts and onions, too.
3. Make cilantro butter: Pop 1 stick of butter, 1/4 cup cilantro leaves and 1 teaspoon crushed garlic into a food processor. Churn well. Presto! This butter, mixed with a splash of lemon juice and freshly cracked pepper, is divine when slathered on roasted corn-on-the-cob.
4. Use it as decoration: Simply fill water in a pretty jar or glass, and place a fresh bunch of cilantro leaves in it. Put it on a sunny windowsill. Enjoy the beauty and the fresh fragrance! It helps repel mosquitoes and insects, too.
5. Try it in a Face Mask: 1 teaspoon of cilantro paste + 1/4 cup coconut milk + 1/2 banana, mashed up. This moisture-rich mask will make your skin glow. Apply for about 10 minutes, then wash off with warm water.
6. Sip cilantro tea: Cilantro tea has been traditionally used as both a digestive aid and a toxin-clearing agent. The tea can be made with two teaspoons of cilantro leaves steeped in one cup of hot water. For flavor, you could add honey, orange peel or lemon slices.
7. Liven up a dip and a mash: Got a bean dip, hummus or cheese spread? Just add finely chopped cilantro leaves and toss well. This wondrous herb lends an immediate zest, opening up the flavors! Mashed potatoes love a touch of cilantro, too.