Coriander, an herb native to Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia, is used in Chinese, Thai, Indonesian and Middle Eastern cuisines for its pungent leaves, known as cilantro, as well as for its seeds. Coriander seeds have a spicy citrus-like flavor and are used in dishes ranging from curries to beer and are also used in some pickling recipes. The seeds of coriander, a commonly-grown garden plant, have a variety of possible health benefits.
Coriander lowers blood sugar and acts as an antioxdant, according to a study published in the January 2011 issue of the "Indian Journal of Experimental Biology." In diabetic laboratory animals, coriander seed powder markedly lowered blood sugar and insulin levels. It also helped restore levels of antioxidants, chemicals that help protect the body from free radicals. These chemicals can raise your risk of chronic disease, such as cancer and heart problems. Damage to the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas that could result from free radicals was also reduced in coriander-fed animals. Further research to confirm their results in humans is still needed.
Coriander could also increase insulin secretion, according to a study published in the March 2009 issue of the journal "Phytotherapy Research." The preliminary study on laboratory animals, conducted at the Department of Biology, Islamic Azad University, Varamin, Iran, showed that 200 milligrams of coriander seed extract per kilogram of body weight significantly reduced blood sugar and increased insulin release from the pancreas. Similar studies on human subjects are still lacking, so consult your doctor before consuming coriander to improve your insulin production.
The journal "Molecular Neurobiology" published a study in its March 2011 issue that reported on the anti-inflammatory properties of coriander, which might protect the nervous system from damage. Citing evidence that lifestyle factors, such as the consumption of certain spices which include coriander, may contribute to lower levels of neurodegenerative diseases, the authors concluded that these compounds could reduce neurological inflammation. This study also included other spices taken along with coriander, so these results are quite preliminary, but promising.
Coriander showed protective benefits against colon cancer in a study published in the August 2000 issue of the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology." In this laboratory study, coriander reduced cholesterol levels in blood and increased the excretion of sterol compounds and bile in laboratory animals, which decreases toxin levels in the colon. Based on the results of their preliminary study, the researchers concluded that coriander offers protective benefits against detrimental effects of lipids in the colon that could lead to colon cancer. However, further studies on humans are needed to confirm these positive results on colon cancer risk in animals.
The safety of coriander was evaluated in a study published in the January 2009 issue of the journal "Food and Chemical Toxicology." Conducted by the Burdock Group, Orlando, Florida, the study on laboratory animals showed that doses up to 500 milligrams of coriander essential oil per kilogram of body weight per day for 28 days resulted in no toxicity. Coriander essential oil has also been found safe at levels up to 160 milligrams per kilogram body weight, a level that is commonly used for cooking.