Drinking cilantro and lemon water has become a popular health trend. Many people add cilantro and lemon to their water hoping to reap a variety of potential health benefits. This article explores the science behind the claims about cilantro and lemon water.
What is cilantro and lemon water?
Cilantro, also known as coriander, is an herb that comes from the leaves of the Coriandrum sativum plant. It has been used for centuries for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Lemon water is simply water that has been infused with fresh lemon juice.
Cilantro and lemon water is generally made by adding a handful of cilantro leaves and the juice from half a lemon to a glass of water. The mixture can be enjoyed either hot or cold. Some people also add other ingredients like mint leaves, grated ginger, honey, or fruit slices to complement the flavors.
Potential health benefits of cilantro
Cilantro contains a unique blend of antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins, and dietary fiber. Here is an overview of some of cilantro’s top nutrients and health benefits:
Rich in antioxidants
Cilantro contains several different antioxidants including quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and apigenin. These compounds help neutralize harmful free radicals and may help prevent chronic disease.
The antioxidants and active plant compounds in cilantro have anti-inflammatory effects. This may help lower risk of inflammatory conditions like heart disease.
May lower blood sugar
Some research indicates cilantro may help lower blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes complications thanks to compounds like quercetin.
May improve cholesterol
Cilantro contains nutrients that may help improve levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise “good” HDL cholesterol.
Promotes heart health
With antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering effects, cilantro may help reduce several heart disease risk factors.
Cilantro’s essential oils stimulate digestive enzymes to help promote efficient digestion and prevent gas and bloating.
Cilantro assists the body’s natural detox process and may help remove heavy metals and other toxic substances.
Provides vitamins and minerals
Cilantro is an excellent source of vitamins A, K, C, and E. It also provides minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese.
Potential health benefits of lemon water
Like cilantro, lemons contain unique plant compounds and essential nutrients. Here are some of the top evidence-based health benefits of lemon water:
Lemons are among the highest natural sources of vitamin C, an essential antioxidant. Just one lemon can provide over 30% of your daily vitamin C needs.
Lemon water acts as a mild diuretic to encourage regular bowel movements and may relieve constipation and bloating.
Boosts weight loss
The pectin fiber in lemons can help reduce appetite and promote fullness which supports weight management.
Kidney stone prevention
Citric acid from lemon juice raises urine pH and may prevent kidney stones from forming.
Supports immune function
Vitamin C in lemon boosts the activity of white blood cells which help fight infection and disease.
Protects heart health
Lemons contain antioxidants that lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease risk.
Lemon water neutralizes odor-causing bacteria in the mouth and freshens breath.
Although acidic, lemon juice has an alkalizing effect once digested and may help balance body pH.
Adding lemon can make plain water more appealing and helps you stay hydrated.
Potential benefits of combining cilantro and lemon water
When cilantro and lemon are infused in water, you get the unique benefits of both ingredients in one beverage. Here are some of the top potential perks:
Enhanced antioxidant activity
Cilantro and lemons contain complementary antioxidants like polyphenols, flavonoids, vitamin C, and vitamin E to reduce oxidative stress.
Animal studies reveal cilantro and lemon enhance the activity of detoxification enzymes in the liver to more efficiently remove toxins.
Lower blood sugar
Research shows cilantro and lemon help regulate blood sugar. This may benefit people with diabetes or prediabetes.
Increased weight loss
Cilantro provides fiber and helps reduce appetite and cravings. Lemon water also boosts feelings of fullness to support weight management.
Better heart health
Lemon and cilantro both lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, and other cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Cilantro stimulates digestive enzymes and lemon acts as a mild diuretic. Together, they may relieve bloating, gas, and constipation.
Vitamin C in lemon plus antioxidants in cilantro strengthen immune defenses to prevent colds, flu, and infections.
Evidence for the health benefits
Most of the purported benefits of cilantro and lemon water come from anecdotal reports. However, some scientific studies provide evidence to support these health claims:
In a 6-week study in people with elevated lipids, taking cilantro leaf extract significantly decreased total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
Improved antioxidant status
Several studies reveal cilantro and lemon improve antioxidant levels in the body and help inhibit oxidative stress.
Lower blood sugar
Human and animal studies indicate extracts from cilantro and lemon positively impact blood sugar control.
Animal research found cilantro leaves increase levels of detoxification enzymes in the liver, kidneys, intestine, lungs, and skin.
|Study Type||Key Finding|
|Human clinical trial||Cilantro lowered LDL cholesterol by 17% over 6 weeks|
|Animal study||Lemon polyphenols decreased blood glucose by 27%|
|Test tube study||Cilantro extract doubled antioxidant levels in cells|
While research is still emerging, the current evidence supports many of the purported benefits of sipping cilantro and lemon infused water.
Potential side effects and precautions
For most people, enjoying cilantro and lemon water is safe with very few side effects. However, here are some things to keep in mind:
Blood thinning medications
People taking blood thinners like warfarin should use caution with cilantro, as it also has mild blood thinning effects.
Lemon water increases sun sensitivity. Wear sunscreen if enjoying lemon water before prolonged sun exposure.
The acids in lemon juice may aggravate heartburn or GERD symptoms in some people.
Those prone to calcium oxalate kidney stones should avoid high oxalate foods like cilantro.
Cilantro and lemon allergies are rare but possible. Discontinue use if any signs of allergic reaction occur.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Cilantro and lemon appear safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding but check with your healthcare provider first.
How to make cilantro and lemon water
It’s easy to make refreshing cilantro and lemon water at home. Here is a simple recipe to try:
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, firmly packed
- 1 lemon
- 4 cups water
- Ice cubes or slices of lemon or cucumber (optional)
- Honey or stevia to taste (optional)
- Wash the cilantro leaves thoroughly and pat dry.
- Slice the lemon and squeeze the juice into a pitcher.
- Add the cilantro leaves and lightly muddle them to release the flavors.
- Pour in the water and stir well.
- Add any optional ice, lemon slices, cucumber, or sweetener.
- Allow to infuse in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
- Strain the water through a fine mesh sieve into glasses.
- Enjoy the cilantro lemon water chilled!
- Start with less cilantro and add more to taste if desired.
- Slice fresh ginger or mint leaves to add more flavor.
- Only make enough for 1-2 days to retain freshness.
- Play with different flavor combos like berries, melon, or orange slices.
The bottom line
Enjoying cilantro and lemon water is an easy, refreshing way to hydrate while also potentially benefiting your health. Research suggests this infused water may help detoxify the body, improve digestion, regulate blood sugar levels, and boost immunity.
While more studies are needed, cilantro and lemon water appears safe for most people. Try this savory, tangy infused water to give your daily hydration an antioxidant boost.