Cilantro, the name commonly used to describe the stems and leaves of the coriander plant, is a staple in many cuisines, bringing delicious, citrusy flavor to everything from fresh salsas to curry. Or at least that’s true for most people. For others, cilantro tastes exactly like dish soap. But whether you find cilantro irresistible or you avoid it at all costs, you may be curious whether including this herb in your diet offers any health benefits. The short answer? This small but mighty herb is jam-packed with nutrients and compounds that serve as a healthy addition to any diet.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Cilantro?
By now, you know that eating more plants is beneficial for a number of reasons — and because cilantro is technically a plant, eating it regularly certainly checks the box. “Cilantro is definitely a positive addition to a healthy diet,” Carrie Gabriel, MS, RDN, a California-based registered dietitian, told POPSUGAR. “It contains a high concentration of phytonutrients like flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory effects and can aid in disease prevention, and it also adds flavor to a variety of dishes without adding salt or sugar.” Nutrient-wise, eating roughly nine sprigs of cilantro will fuel your body with fiber, calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, and more in under 20 calories.
But there may also be health benefits far beyond getting more calcium or reducing sodium. Eating cilantro has been linked to fewer seizures among those with epilepsy, and data suggest that the main component in coriander, called linalool, may help combat anxiety and Alzheimer’s disease. Animal studies suggest that cilantro intake may also improve memory and help balance blood sugars.
Of course, there are some caveats to enjoying this herb in excess. For example, cilantro may interact with certain blood-thinning medications, and it can slow blood clotting when eaten in excess. But generally speaking, cilantro can be an extremely healthy addition to your diet and a great substitute for high-sodium and high-fat ingredients when you want some serious flavor. So if you’re a cilantro-lover, feel good knowing that your favorite herb is delivering more than just premium taste.