Cilantro, also known as coriander, is a popular herb used in many cuisines around the world. Some people love the taste of cilantro while others find it off-putting. But can you safely eat cilantro every day? Let’s take a look at the health benefits and potential downsides of regular cilantro consumption.
Nutrition Profile of Cilantro
Cilantro is low in calories but packed with nutrients. Here is an overview of the nutrition found in 1/4 cup (4 grams) of fresh cilantro leaves:
|Vitamin K||12% DV|
|Vitamin C||2% DV|
|Vitamin A||2% DV|
As you can see, cilantro provides a variety of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin K. It also contains numerous antioxidant compounds like quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and apigenin (1).
Benefits of Regular Cilantro Consumption
Here are some of the top evidence-based health benefits of eating cilantro on a regular basis:
May help lower cholesterol: Several studies have found that cilantro may help reduce total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, and triglyceride levels (2, 3). The cholesterol-lowering effects are likely attributed to the antioxidants and bioactive compounds in cilantro.
Supports detoxification: Cilantro assists the body’s natural detoxification processes. Animal research indicates cilantro may increase the elimination of heavy metals like mercury and aluminum from the body (4). The herb also contains antioxidants that neutralize damaging free radicals.
Anti-inflammatory effects: Chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases. The antioxidants and active compounds in cilantro reduce inflammation and offer protection against oxidative stress (5).
May stabilize blood sugar: Early research shows cilantro has anti-diabetic properties. In one study, cilantro decreased fasting blood sugar levels by over 10% in patients with type 2 diabetes (6). More research is needed to confirm its effects.
Antimicrobial properties: Cilantro exhibits antimicrobial activity against certain bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The herb’s essential oil may inhibit foodborne pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli (7).
Supports heart health: The nutrients and antioxidants in cilantro may protect heart health by reducing cholesterol, hypertension, and oxidative stress. One study in rats found cilantro lowered blood pressure and prevented cardiac damage (8).
Consuming cilantro regularly can provide anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering, detoxifying, antimicrobial, and cardioprotective benefits. The herb offers a unique nutritional profile of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that benefit overall health.
Potential Downsides of Eating Cilantro Daily
Eating cilantro daily is generally recognized as safe, but there are a few potential downsides to consider:
May cause GI distress: For those who are sensitive, eating cilantro frequently may cause gastrointestinal symptoms like gas, bloating, and stomach pain. These side effects are more likely in raw cilantro.
Pesticide exposure risk: Conventionally grown cilantro is prone to pesticide residues. Choosing organic cilantro reduces exposure to harmful chemicals.
Heavy metal accumulation: Cilantro is efficient at absorbing heavy metals like lead from contaminated soil. Eating large amounts may increase heavy metal intake in areas with polluted water and soil.
Allergic reactions: Cilantro allergies are uncommon but can cause hives, itching, and anaphylaxis in sensitive people. Avoiding cilantro prevents allergic reactions.
Medication interactions: Cilantro may amplify the effects of certain medications due to its influence on liver enzymes. Check with a doctor before consuming regularly if taking any prescriptions.
While quite rare, some people may experience adverse effects from overconsuming cilantro. Pay attention to your individual response and use organic, high-quality cilantro to minimize risks.
There are currently no official recommendations for cilantro consumption. However, research indicates the following daily amounts are likely safe and beneficial:
– 1-2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro leaves and stems
– 1-3 teaspoons of dried cilantro leaves
– 1-2 teaspoons of cilantro seeds or powder
Cilantro can be easily incorporated into recipes like sauces, dressings, soups, curries, and salads. Using fresh cilantro is ideal to maximize nutrient content. Dried, frozen, and powdered cilantro provide benefits as well.
In conclusion, for most people eating cilantro daily poses little risk and provides important health benefits. Cilantro is packed with protective compounds that defend against disease through antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects. Potential adverse effects like gastrointestinal issues and heavy metal exposure are uncommon and can be avoided through high-quality sourcing. Speak to your healthcare provider before regularly consuming cilantro in large amounts, especially if taking any medications. But including fresh or dried cilantro as an everyday ingredient in home cooking is a safe and healthy habit for the majority of people. Moderating your intake based on your personal tolerance and using common sense sourcing practices lets you take advantage of cilantro’s unique nutritional virtues.