The oldest spice in the world is coriander. It has been used for around 7,000 years and it originated in Italy. It is a plant of which both leaves and fruit (seeds) are used on daily basis in food or even in medicine.
Coriander or cilantro is locally known as Dhaniya in India and Daniwal in Kashmir. The leaves of coriander are variable in shape, broadly lobed, slender, green in colour. The leaves and seeds are mostly used in different cuisines to add flavour and aroma. The leaves are also used to make chutney with curd which tastes very good and is mostly used with grilled mutton and chicken. The seeds are used in dried form and have citrus orange-flavour when grinded, as it contains terpenes, linalool and pinene. The seeds are also roasted, eaten as a snack called “dhania dal”.
Coriander roots have more intense flavour and are mostly used in Thai dishes like soups and curry pastes. Fresh raw coriander contains 92% water, 4% carbs, 2% proteins. It also contains good amounts of minerals and vitamins like vitamin K (310ug), Vitamin C (27mg), Vitamin E (2.5mg), Foliate (62ug), potassium (521 mg), phosphorus (48mg), calcium (67mg), iron (1.7mg) and magnesium (26mg). The essential oil extracted from coriander contains mixed polyphenols, linalool and terpenes. Coriander has many health benefits so its consumption on daily basis can make us healthier for being rich in antioxidants and antibiotic properties.
Coriander powder can reduce oxidative stress in the body hence it reduces aging. It helps to lower LDL and increase HDL in our body and it promotes liver functions. The seeds, extract and oil help in reducing blood sugar level (diabetes type 2) by increasing insulin release in the body. Coriander is a rich source of antioxidants so it is helpful in boosting immunity, fighting inflammation in the body. Studies reveal that it contains terpinene and quercetin which has anti-cancerous, neuroprotective effects. Coriander is also beneficial for heart health as it has diuretic properties, it flushes excess sodium and water from body resulting in regulation of blood pressure.
As we know that Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are associated with inflammation, the anti -inflammatory properties of coriander safeguard against these diseases. Vitamin K is good for Alzheimer’s disease and is found in good quantity in coriander. Some studies state that the antioxidants in coriander reduce brain inflammation, improve memory, and reduce anxiety symptoms, though more research is needed.
Coriander seeds significantly decrease abdominal pain, bloating and discomfort. It’s quite effective for IBS and is also an appetite stimulant. Coriander is said to exhibit antimicrobial effects that help fight food-borne illness and pathogens like Salmonella. Coriander leaves paste can be used as a hair mask for healthy and shiny hair. Also, the paste of coriander seed can be used along with olive oil for healthy hair growth. It can be also used as a scrubber which aids in exfoliating of skin giving it a clean and smooth touch. Simply soak cotton in coriander seeds water and dab it on your face to get rid of rashes and sunburns. It also delays the onset of wrinkles, reduces fine lines and pigmentation, keeps the skin hydrated and glowing by removing the dead skin cells.
Coriander is effective in relieving acidity. Redness, bumps and acne are formed due to acid formation in the body. Care should be taken in consumption of coriander as in some people it may cause allergic reaction. Symptoms of such reactions can include asthma, nasal swelling, hives, or swelling inside the mouth. These reactions are mostly in people who work with spices in the food industry. Coriander should be avoided by pregnant or breast-feeding mothers. People with low blood pressure problem should also not take coriander as it may reduce to low levels and cause problems.
There is some concern that it may interfere with blood sugar control during surgery so avoid using coriander at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery. Excessive intake can sensitize the skin to sunlight. People with chronic low blood sugar should also avoid overconsumption as it brings down sugar levels. The appropriate dose is important, as it is rightly said, “Excess of everything is bad”. Coriander consumption should depend on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. This specific herb should be utilised in minimum quantity on daily basis as per the need.
The writers are Associate Professors at Division of FST, SKUAST-K, Shalimar