The coriander plant is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, "Life Extension" magazine reports. The plant's leaves, known as cilantro, are loaded with nutrients and have been studied by laboratory scientists for their potential health properties. To reap any health benefits, use cilantro as an aromatic addition to your dishes, or brew tea from 2 teaspoons of the fresh leaves per cup of water. Check with your doctor before drinking cilantro tea because it can interfere with some medications.
Vitamin K Content
Along with other leafy green vegetables and herbs, cilantro is a superior source of vitamin K. Just 2 teaspoons of cilantro leaves supplies 31 micrograms of vitamin K, or one-third of an adult's daily needs. This vitamin is necessary for proper blood clotting and for the formation of strong bones. If you are taking prescription anticoagulants, however, cilantro tea may interfere with the effectiveness of your medications.
An animal study published in the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology" in 2001 looked at the potential of cilantro -- also known as Chinese parsley -- as a detoxification agent. For a month, the scientists tested cilantro leaves for their ability to reduce toxicity from lead found in drinking water. The research team discovered that compounds in cilantro leaves reduced lead damage to the kidneys and bones of mice by binding to the toxin and removing it from the bloodstream. Contamination with heavy metals like lead has associations with various diseases. However, the detoxification effects of cilantro leaves have not been confirmed in humans.
Tea made from cilantro may also help treat diabetes mellitus and common complications of the condition, such as heart disease. Research published in the "Journal of Food Science" in 2012 found that ingestion of cilantro leaves and stems lowered blood glucose levels in diabetic rats and reduced their total cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins -- the "bad" cholesterol." The leaves also increased the activity of antioxidant enzymes in the rats' livers, leading to a protective effect. The researchers concluded that consumption of cilantro leaves could help manage diabetes, although research in humans is needed.
The Power of Quercetin
Cilantro leaves are a rich source of the phytonutrient quercetin. A flavonoid found in plant foods, quercetin has received attention for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. According to an article published in "Current Sports Medicine Reports" in 2009, these properties give quercetin the potential to enhance physical performance for athletes and military personnel and boost immunity for protection against disease. The article authors cautioned that clinical trials are needed because research on quercetin so far has concentrated on laboratory and animal studies.
- Life Extension Magazine: Time to Celebrate Cilantro
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Coriander (Cilantro) Leaves, Raw
- MedlinePlus: Vitamin K
- Journal of Ethnophramacology: Preventive Effect of Coriandrum sativum (Chinese Parsley) on Localized Lead Deposition in ICR Mice
- ImmuneHealthScience.com: Quercetin Content in Selected Foods
- Current Sports Medicine Reports: Effects of the Dietary Flavonoid Quercetin Upon Performance and Health
- Journal of Food Science: Antioxidant, Antihyperglycemic, and Antihyperlipidemic Effects of Coriandrum sativum Leaf and Stem in Alloxan-induced Diabetic Rats