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.
It is also mention in the Old Testament – “And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” (Exodus 16:31)
It was used as a spice in both Greek and Roman cultures and early physicians like Hippocrates used coriander in cooking as well as medicine.
Coriander also known as cilantro (Coriandrum), and this herb belongs to the aromatic Apiaceae family.
Cilantro grows to 20 inches tall and has tiny white flower clusters at the ends of stalks.
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.
Cilantro is full of an unusual array of healing phytonutrients and anti-oxidants. Its leaves and seeds contain some amount of various essential oils that makes this herb useful for use in traditional medicines. It is anti-septic, analgesic, helps with digestion, and is a natural stimulant.
It is a very good source of vitamins A, C, K and has traces of the B vitamins. In the minerals department, it provides high amount of calcium and potassium. It also provides iron, manganese and sodium.
Coriander has been used as a folk medicine for the relief of anxiety and insomnia. Coriander seeds are used in traditional Indian medicine as a diuretic by boiling equal amounts of coriander seeds and cumin seeds, then cooling and consuming the liquid. In holistic and traditional medicine, it is used as a carminative and as a digestive aid.
Coriander has been documented as a traditional treatment for diabetes. Acts as a diuretic; eases seasonal allergies. Helps cure ulcer, inflammation, spasm and acts as an expectorant, protects and soothes the liver. It is anti-carcinogenic and anti-histaminic. Coriander is helpful with many ailments here are a few additional ones:
Anemia – Coriander is good in iron content which directly helps curing anemia.
Anti-cancer - The anti-oxidant properties from cilantro include beta carotene, vitamin C and E, ferulic, caffeic acid, kaempferol, and quercetin. This broad spectrum of anti-oxidant helps to lower the risk of oxidative stress in the cells that are carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
Anti-microbial properties – Cilantro contains volatile oils that have antimicrobial properties, making it a very useful herb that can be used for fungal, bacterial or yeast infections.
Blood Sugar – A study that was done on mice confirmed that this herb has an anti-diabetic effect and can control blood sugar. When juiced and consumed regularly, cilantro can help stimulate the secretion of insulin, thereby lowering blood sugar.
Bone Health - Cilantro is an excellent source of calcium. Calcium is a vital nutrient that is required for formation and maintenance of strong bones.
Cholesterol Lowering Ability – Cilantro when juiced and consumed on a regular basis can help reduce the amount of damaged fats (lipid peroxides) in the cell membranes. Studies have shown that cilantro can lower bad cholesterol level and increase the good cholesterol level.
Digestion – Coriander, helps in proper secretion of enzymes and digestive juices in the stomach, stimulates digestion and peristaltic motion.
Eyesight – The high beta-carotene and anti-oxidants in cilantro make it one of the best herbs that helps alleviate eye problems thus improving eyesight. In addition, it also help reduce the threat posed by age; associated with vision disorders such as macular degeneration, and cataract.
Heavy Metal Detox – Cilantro is one of the very few herbs that is used as a heavy metal detox agent, to detoxify mercury, aluminium and lead among others.
Insomnia – Due to the various phytonutrients and medicinal values of cilantro, it helps rebalance the internal chemicals, providing a calming effect to the nerves that enable sleep to come easier.
Kidney stones – Cilantro has a diuretic and detoxifying effect that can help lower the risk for kidney stones.
Mouth Ulcers – Citronelol, a component of essential oils in coriander, is an excellent antiseptic. In addition, other components have anti microbial and healing effects which do not let wounds and ulcers in the mouth to get worse. It aids in healing and freshen the breath.
Swellings – Cineole, one of the 11 components of the essential oils, and linoleic acid, present in coriander, possess anti-rheumatic and anti-arthritic properties, which are very beneficial for relieving swelling caused by these ailments.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
Fresh cilantro leaves as well as the seeds can be readily available in the markets as well as health stores year around. Always buy fresh leaves over the dried herb-powder since it is superior in flavor and rich in many vital vitamins and anti-oxidants like beta carotene, vitamin-C, and folates. While buying, look for vibrant green color leaves with firm stems. It should be free from any kind of spoilage or yellowing.
Try to buy fresh leaves from the local organic farms since the herb has an intense refreshing flavor in addition to that it will assure you of superior quality and will be free from pesticide residues.
Once at home, wash in clean water, discard the roots, and any bruised leaves. Fresh cilantro (coriander) should be stored inside the refrigerator in a zip pouch or wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. Use as early as possible since it loses flavor and nutrients quickly if kept for longer periods.
Coriander seeds and coriander oil are also available in the markets, groceries and health food stores. The seeds are basically used as spice.
You can also freeze cilantro in ice cube trays with water and they will be ready to add to any dish you will be preparing.
HOW TO USE
Every part of coriander, not just the leaves and seeds are edible. The stems are where most of the flavor lies, and the roots are crushed and used in Thai curry pastes.
Even the small, lacy pinkish-white flowers add elegance to summer salads. The seeds are used whole or ground, and are often lightly toasted to enhance their flavor.
Coriander seeds are widely used in Europe, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, India and south Asia. They’re added to soups, stews, vegetables, marinades, cakes, breads, pastries, pickles and many other Asian foods.
In Latin America, especially Mexico and Peru, coriander leaves are often added to fish, meat, poultry, salads, soups, stir-fries, casseroles and including salsa dishes.
HOW TO ENJOY
Fresh leaves should be washed thoroughly in the water in order to remove sand and dirt and to rid off any residual pesticides. It is generally used just before preparing recipes in order to keep the fragrance and aromatic flavor intact.
Cilantro is used in the preparation of soups, and sauces and many other dishes. Here are a few of them.
Add them to tacos
Make a delicious chutney
Use it in your favorite salsa
Add it to a quinoa, tomato, beans, avocado salad
Coriander seed powder is one of the main ingredients used in the preparation of curry powder.
Several including, http://wikihow.com
Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. 1986. PMID:15210.
Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York. 1996.
Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. PMID:15220.
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