The leaves of the coriander plant are generally referred as "Cilantro" in American cuisine. This is also referred as "Chinese Parsley". It has a very strong fragrance and widely used in Asian, Mexican and Caribbean cuisines. Coriander belongs to Apiaceae family. Coriander is a native of Southern Europe, Southwestern Asia and North Africa. It is a soft and hairless plant that grown about 50 centimeters or 20 inches tall. The leaves of this plant vary in shape. They are slender and feathery towards the stems. Fresh cilantro can be found in local grocery store and is always available round the year. It can be refrigerated for up to a week.
The histroy of Coriander starts back from 5000 BC. Coriander is one of the world’s oldest herbs. It is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions. Later, it was introduced in Asian countries. Coriander was first brought to the British colonies in North America in 1670. It was one of the first spices cultivated by early immigrants. Coriander was used as a spice in both Greek and Roman cultures. Ancient Romans used coriander to preserve meats and flavor breads. Coriander was also used by physicians for its medicinal properties. It was treated as an aromatic stimulant.
Coriander is a fast growing annual herb. It reaches a height of 12 - 24 inches. The entire plant is edible including the leaves, the seeds and roots. We can simply pick or trim fresh leaves keeping the stalks intact. Cilantro leaves get a stronger and sometimes disagreeable flavor as they grow older and larger. We can harvest seed after the leaves and flowers turn brown. For best results, plant coriander in a well-drained soil.
The dried fruits of the coriander plant are called coriander seeds. They are known as "dhania" in India. When crushed the seeds have a lemony citrus flavor. Coriander seeds are described as spicy, nutty and orange-flavored. The coriander seeds are used extensively in spices. The large seeds are grown mainly in tropical and sub-tropical countries like Morocco, India and Australia. The smaller seeds are produced in temperate regions. They have oil content between 0.4 to 1.8% and used as a raw material for oil preparation. Coriander seed can be used either as dried seed or in the ground form. Coriander seeds boiled along with water serve as a medicine for cold. Coriander seeds are also used for pickling vegetables and for making sausages in Germany and South Africa. It is used as an ingredient in Rye bread in Russia and Central Europe. Coriander seeds are also used in brewing Belgian wheat beers.
Coriander seeds and cilantro leaves are known to have many health benefits.
Both coriander seeds and cilantro are a good source of dietary fiber.
Coriander contains large amounts of antioxidants, vitamin-C, vitamin-A, and phosphorus which prevents macular degeneration and soothes eyes against stress.
Coriander is rich in iron content that helps it to treat anemia.
Citronelol, is a component of essential oils in coriander and is an excellent antiseptic. They help in healing up of ulcers and freshen up the breath
Coriander is a very good disinfectant and has many anti microbial properties which help in protecting the eyes from contagious diseases like conjunctivitis.
Coriander helps in the proper secretion from the endocrine glands and hence help in proper secretion of the hormones and thereby inducing proper menstrual cycles
Borneol and Linalool are some of the components of essential oils in coriander and aid in digestion, proper functioning of liver and bonding of bowels, helping to cure diarrhea
Cilantro helps in digestion and also settles the stomach and prevents flatulence
It helps and protects the body against urinary tract infections
Coriander seeds and cilantro help prevent nausea
It relieves the intestinal gas
It is also a very good source of Iron, magnesium and manganese
Coriander helps in lowering the blood sugar and it also lowers the bad cholesterol (LDL) and raises the good cholesterol (HDL)
It is a Phytonutrient rich herb. Coriander contains the volatile oil that is rich in beneficial phytonutrients like carvone, limonene, borneol, camphor, elemol and linalool.
Coriander also contains an antibacterial compound that is a safe and natural means to fight Salmonella. Salmonella is a frequent and sometimes deadly cause of foodborne illness.
Coriander's side effects may include nausea or vomiting, anorexia. It may also cause allergic reactions such as hay fever, dermatitis, or allergic asthma in few people. Taking coriander with a few drugs like Phenytoin, Enalapril etc may cause skin sensitivity to sunlight in a few people. Taking coriander with other drugs like Acarbose, Glipizide etc may increase the risk of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.