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Health Benefits of Cilantro

Coriandrum salivum, commonly known as Cilantro or Coriander, is filled with nutritive richness. It is frequently found in kitchens for flavoring cuisines and garnishing dishes. But there is a lot more to it than its refreshing flavor and vibrant color. With negligible fat and low calorie content, cilantro is a good source of minerals, vitamins, fiber and flavonoids. More specifically, cilantro is rich with minerals that include copper, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc and phosphorus. Vitamins present in cilantro include vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin and pantothenic acid. The phenolic compounds including flavonoids include quercetin, acacetin, kaempferol, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein-zeaxanthin and beta crypto-xanthin which have serve various health benefits.

Cilantro as a Source of Antioxidants:

Cilantro extracts, seeds, stems and leaves are reservoirs for phenolic compounds which carry potent antioxidant activities which consequently help in maintaining good health by counteracting the damage caused by oxidative stress present at different locations in the body. [1] These antioxidants are particularly important in reducing the risk rates for severe health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, cancers, neurological diseases and other chronic conditions.

According to the American Heart Association, oxidative stress causes plasma lipoprotein, particularly LDL lipids, to oxidize. [2] This oxidation then leads to altered vascular cell function, and the endothelial cell adhesion increase which in turns increases the concentration of inflammatory cells in circulation. Furthermore, the chemotactic properties of monocyte-derived macrophages and monocytes are also altered, which further increase cellular accumulation in the artery wall. The damage caused by oxidative stress continues to influence the heart health negatively when the LDL receptor recognition properties are changed and macrophage-derived cells are formed. With increase in cellular debris accumulation, calcification, fibrosis and plaque ruptures in cases of atherosclerosis, the risk rate of cardiovascular disease is intensified. However, the presence of antioxidants in foods like cilantro help in inhibiting the LDL oxidation and it also repairs the damage caused by previously present oxidative stress that facilitate in reducing the incidence rate of coronary diseases and improve cardiac health.

Diabetes mellitus is also associated with high oxidative stress in the body. According to a study published in the journal, Circulation, the reactive nitrogen species alter the signaling pathways which are PI3-K dependent in nature. [3] Alternation of these pathways take place in metabolic and vascular targets of insulin and lead to insulin resistance that later manifests in diabetes. Furthermore these reactive nitrogen and oxygen species alternate a cascade of reactions and pathways which reduce the protein concentration of insulin receptor substrate and disrupt the endothelial function. However, dietary intake of antioxidants through vegetables like cilantro can help reduce the detrimental effects of oxidative stress on insulin sensitivity optimizing pathways and facilitate in diabetes management. In another study, published by British Journal of Nutrition, anti-diabetic properties of cilantro were stratified in three categories which included its anti-hyperglycemic activity, insulin-like activity and insulin-releasing property. Including cilantro in the diet in this study led to increased hyperglycemia in the mice model. [4] It further led to oxidation of glucose and its conversion into glycogen. The health benefit of diabetes management continued when it was found that the cilantro extracts triggered insulin secretion and helped in neutralizing the detrimental effects of oxidative stress on insulin secretion regulation and insulin sensitivity.

These antioxidants are beneficial for health as they also exhibit cancer protective properties, which are manifested through various pathways including triggering immune cells against tumor cells, altering tumor synthesis pathways to reduce their proliferation and growth and stimulating programmed cell death of tumor cells. These dietary antioxidants also have a significant role in cancer risk reduction in people who have suffered from cellular and tissue damage which makes them prone to having cancer. Moreover, the use of dietary antioxidants also reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia which result as oxidative stress target neural pathways and alter the neural cell functions negatively.

Cilantro’s other known Health Benefits:

Being a reservoir of minerals and vitamins, consuming cilantro helps in improving the immune system, bone health, heart health, the nervous system, oxygenated blood circulation and overall cellular and tissue growth in the human body; which collectively all impacts human health. However, cilantro has other benefits as well. A study suggests that cilantro has anti-anxiety effects which are attributed to the presence of essential oils and flavonoids. [5] The most crucial component of these essential oils is linalool which affects the central nervous system positively and doesn’t only exhibit anti-anxiety properties but also carries anti-convulsant and hypnotic properties to assure maintenance of good brain health. Consequently these effects of cilantro help in improving memory and cognitive function which in turn reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Moreover, consumption of cilantro helps in detoxifying the human system from harmful heavy metal exposure from the environment. Due to increased atmospheric pollution, the toxic heavy metals including arsenic, lead and aluminum accumulate in the body and can have detrimental health effects. These effects can lead to serious health conditions such as infertility problems, neurological diseases and cardiovascular diseases. However, eating cilantro releases useful compounds in the human system which binds to these heavy metals, that in turn help in neutralizing the toxic effects and elimination of these toxins from the body. Furthermore, eating cilantro also improves the performance of the digestive system and provides relief from several digestion-related problems, including heartburn, nausea, acidity and indigestion. The presence of anti-bacterial activity further lends more health benefits to this vegetable and helps in protecting the body against bacterial pathogen invasions and infections. Particularly, the use of cilantro is linked with treating urinary tract infections which are often painful and require exposure to antibiotics to get treated. However, the regular use of cilantro can ease the pain and kill the infection-causing bacteria.

Cilantro, therefore, should be a part of your daily diet to derive the health benefits form its multifarious properties.

References:

  1. Guerra, N., de Almeida Melo, E., & Filho, J. (2017). Antioxidant compounds from coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) etheric extract. Retrieved 19 March 2017, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S088915750400002X
  2. Antioxidant Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: Emphasis on Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and β-Carotene, Diane L. Tribble For the Nutrition Committee Circulation. 1999;99:591-595, originally published February 2, 1999 https://doi.org/10.1161/01.CIR.99.4.591
  3. Xu, J., & Zou, M. (2009). Molecular Insights and Therapeutic Targets for Diabetic Endothelial Dysfunction. Circulation, 120(13), 1266-1286. http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/circulationaha.108.835223
  4. Gray, A., & Flatt, P. (2017). Insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity of the traditional anti-diabetic plant Coriandrum sativum (coriander). Retrieved 19 March 2017, from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/div-classtitleinsulin-releasing-and-insulin-like-activity-of-the-traditional-anti-diabetic-plant-span-classitaliccoriandrum-sativumspan-corianderdiv/2FC0150D15C89316C1BB08507B25EC94
  5. Mahendra, P., & Bisht, S. (2017). Anti-anxiety activity of Coriandrum sativum assessed using different experimental anxiety models. Retrieved 19 March 2017, from http://www.ijp-online.com/article.asp?issn=02537613;year=2011;volume=43;issue=5;spage=574;epage=577;aulast=Mahendra

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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