Cilantro is a good-for-you herb that offers important nutrients like vitamins A, K, and C as well as heart-healthy antioxidants. Here’s the lowdown on cilantro’s benefits.
Cilantro—aka the leaves of the coriander plant—is a bright green herb commonly used in Mexican, Asian, and Middle Eastern cooking, as well as other cuisines around the globe. Apart from its somewhat citrusy, peppery flavor (to most people, anyway), cilantro is added to dishes for its potential health perks. Here’s the lowdown on cilantro’s benefits.
Cilantro contains vitamins A, C, and K, and the leaves also have folate, potassium, and manganese. However, it’s rarely eaten in large enough amounts to be a significant source of these nutrients.
Nutrients per Serving
1 tablespoon of cilantro contains:
Fiber: 0 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Sodium: 0 grams
Cholesterol: 0 grams
2. Cilantro benefits
There is little research into the health benefits of cilantro. However, research indicates this leafy garnish has a few potential perks.
a. Cilantro is a good source of nutrients
In addition to color and flavor, cilantro adds nutrition to your plate. A quarter cup of raw cilantro leaves (about the size of a golf ball) provides 16% of the daily value (DV) of vitamin K, which supports bone health and helps wounds heal. It also offers 5% DV of vitamin A and 2% DV of vitamin C—two vitamins responsible for immune function. Plus, said serving size adds less than one calorie to your meal.
b. Cilantro contains antioxidants
Beyond its vitamin value, cilantro also offers up important compounds called antioxidants, according to a 2022 review published in the journal Molecules. While cilantro has many types of antioxidants, one class, known as polyphenols, is particularly important. Why? Polyphenols reduce inflammation and prevent cell damage that may have otherwise contributed to premature aging and heightened disease risk.
c. Prevent Foodborne Illnesses
The cilantro plant contains dodecenal, an antimicrobial compound that may help protect your body against infections and illnesses caused by tainted food. The compound is effective against Salmonella, a microbe that can cause life-threatening food poisoning.
Another study found that compounds in cilantro are effective against several bacteria, including those that cause foodborne illnesses and hospital-acquired infections.
d. Blood Sugar Management
Cilantro is so well-known for its ability to lower blood sugar that people with low blood sugar or those taking diabetes medications are warned to be careful with the herb.
In animal studies, coriander seeds reduced blood sugar by stimulating an enzyme that removes sugar from the blood.
In another study, cilantro extract decreased blood sugar in rats with obesity and high blood sugar. The effects were similar to the blood sugar medication glibenclamide.
e. Brain Health
Although further research is still needed, several studies have connected eating cilantro with reduced symptoms of cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
In one study, cilantro extract reduced seizure attacks and prevented nerve-cell damage in rats.In another, when fresh cilantro leaves were added to the diets of laboratory mice, scientists saw improvements in their memory.
g. Cilantro may help cardiovascular health
Traditional medicine has long used parts of the coriander plant (including cilantro leaves) to treat pain, inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, and diabetes. While most of the medicinal properties of the plant have yet to be studied, the same 2022 review published in Molecules found the herb may have cardiovascular benefits, such as regulating blood pressure and heart rhythm. The researchers theorize that this is due to cilantro’s high antioxidant content.
However, of the 18 studies the review assessed, only two were conducted in humans. Therefore, you shouldn’t expect munching on cilantro to ease any cardiovascular issues; a lot more research needs to be done.