The World's Healthiest Foods
Coriander seeds

Like other spices coriander is available throughout the year providing a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of both citrus peel and sage.

The fruit of the coriander plant contains two seeds which, when dried, are the portions used as the dried spice. When ripe, the seeds are yellowish-brown in color with longitudinal ridges. Coriander seeds are available whole or in ground powder form.

 


Health Benefits

Coriander seeds have a health-supporting reputation that is high on the list of the healing spices. In parts of Europe, coriander has traditionally been referred to as an “anti-diabetic” plant. In parts of India, it has traditionally been used for its anti-inflammatory properties. In the United States, coriander has recently been studied for its cholesterol-lowering effects.

Control of Blood Sugar, Cholesterol and Free Radical Production

Recent research studies (though still on animals) have confirmed all three of these healing effects. When coriander was added to the diet of diabetic mice, it helped stimulate their secretion of insulin and lowered their blood sugar. When given to rats, coriander reduced the amount of damaged fats (lipid peroxides) in their cell membranes. And when given to rats fed a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet, coriander lowered levels of total and LDL (the "bad" cholesterol), while actually increasing levels of HDL (the “good” cholesterol). Research also suggests that the volatile oils found in the leaves of the coriander plant, commonly known as cilantro, may have antimicrobial properties.

A Phytonutrient-Dense Herb

Many of the above healing properties of coriander can be attributed to its exceptional phytonutrient content. Coriander’s volatile oil is rich in beneficial phytonutrients, including carvone, geraniol, limonene, borneol, camphor, elemol, and linalool. Coriander's flavonoids include quercitin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and epigenin. Plus, coridander contains active phenolic acid compounds, including caffeic and chlorogenic acid.

Nutrient As Well As Phytonutrient-Dense

Not only is coriander replete with a variety of phytonutrients, this exceptional herb emerged from our food ranking system as an important source of many traditional nutrients. Based on our nutrient density ranking process, coriander qualified as a very good source of dietary fiber and a good source of iron, magnesium and manganese.

Spice Up Your Life and Subdue the Salmonella

Coriander (also called cilantro) contains an antibacterial compound that may prove to be a safe, natural means of fighting Salmonella, a frequent and sometimes deadly cause of foodborne illness, suggests a study published in the June 2004 issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

Working together, U.S. and Mexican researchers isolated the compound – dodecenal – which laboratory tests showed is twice as effective as the commonly used antibiotic drug gentamicin at killing Salmonella. Since most natural antibacterial agents found in food have weak activity, study leader Isao Kubo, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley, noted, "We were surprised that dodecenal was such a potent antibiotic."

While dodecenal is found in comparable amounts in both the seeds and fresh leaves of coriander, the leaves are usually eaten more frequently since they are one of the main ingredients in salsa, along with tomatoes, onions and green chillies. In addition to dodecenal, eight other antibiotic compounds were isolated from fresh coriander, inspiring the food scientists to suggest that dodecenal might be developed as a tasteless food additive to prevent foodborne illness. While this may prove to be a useful idea, who wants to settle for "tasteless" food protection? Our suggestion at the World's Healthiest Foods? Enjoy more fresh salsa and other delicious recipes featuring coriander! For our taste full suggestions, click Recipes.(June 30, 2004)

Description

Coriander is considered both an herb and a spice since both its leaves and its seeds are used as a seasoning condiment. Fresh coriander leaves are more commonly known as cilantro and bear a strong resemblance to Italian flat leaf parsley. This is not surprising owing to the fact that they belong to the same plant family (Umbelliferae).

The fruit of the coriander plant contains two seeds which, when dried, are the parts that are used as the dried spice. When ripe, the seeds are yellowish-brown in color with longitudinal ridges. They have a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of both citrus peel and sage. Coriander seeds are available in whole or ground powder form.

The name coriander is derived from the Greek word koris, which means bug. It may have earned this name because of the “buggy” offensive smell that it has when unripe. The Latin name for coriander is Coriandrum sativum.

History

The use of coriander can be traced back to 5,000 BC, making it one of the world’s oldest spices. It is native to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions and has been known in Asian countries for thousands of years. Coriander was cultivated in ancient Egypt and given mention in the Old Testament. It was used as a spice in both Greek and Roman cultures, the latter using it to preserve meats and flavor breads. The early physicians, including Hippocrates, used coriander for its medicinal properties, including as an aromatic stimulant.

The Russian Federation, India, Morocco and Holland are among the countries that commercially produce coriander seeds. Coriander leaves (cilantro) are featured in the culinary traditions of Latin American, Indian and Chinese cuisine.

How to Select and Store

How to Enjoy

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.

Tips for Preparing Coriander:

Fresh coriander (cilantro) should be washed right before using since it is highly fragile. The best way to clean coriander is just like you would spinach by placing it in a bowl of cold water and swishing it around with your hands. This will allow any sand or dirt to dislodge. Remove the leaves from the water, empty the bowl, refill it with clean water, and repeat this process until there is no dirt remaining in the water.

Coriander seeds can be easily ground with a mortar and pestle. You may wish to first soak them in cold water for ten minutes and then drain them, as this process will revive their fragrant aroma.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

In a saucepan over low heat, combine vanilla soymilk, honey, coriander and cinnamon for a delicious beverage.

Healthy sauté spinach, fresh garlic and coriander seeds, mix in garbanzo beans, and season with ginger and cumin.

Add coriander seeds to soups and broths.

Use coriander seeds in the poaching liquid when preparing fish.

Adding ground coriander to pancake and waffle mixes will give them a Middle Eastern flavor.

Put coriander seeds in a pepper mill and keep on the dinner table so that you and your family can use them at any time.

Safety

Coriander seeds are not a commonly allergenic food and are not known to contain measurable amounts of goitrogens, oxalates, or purines.

Nutritional Profile

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the %Daily Value (DV) that that amount represents (similar to other information presented in the website, this DV is calculated for 25-50 year old healthy woman); the nutrient density rating; and, the food's World's Healthiest Foods Rating. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised. For more detailed information on our Food and Recipe Rating System, please click here.

 

Coriander, Seeds
2.00 tsp
9.92 calories
Nutrient Amount DV
(%)
Nutrient
Density
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
dietary fiber 1.40 g 5.6 10.2 very good
manganese 0.08 mg 4.0 7.3 good
iron 0.56 mg 3.1 5.6 good
magnesium 11.00 mg 2.8 5.0 good
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

References

  • Ballal RS, Jacobsen DW, Robinson K. Homocysteine: update on a new risk factor. Cleve Clin J Med 1997 Nov-1997 Dec 31;64(10):543-9.
  • Chithra V, Leelamma S. Hypolipidemic effect of coriander seeds (Coriandrum sativum): mechanism of action. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 1997;51(2):167-72.
  • Chithra V, Leelamma S. Coriandrum sativum changes the levels of lipid peroxides and activity of antioxidant enzymes in experimental animals. Indian J Biochem Biophys 1999 Feb;36(1):59-61.
  • Delaquis PJ, Stanich K, Girard B et al. Antimicrobial activity of individual and mixed fractions of dill, cilantro, coriander and eucalyptus essential oils. Int J Food Microbiol. 2002 Mar 25;74(1-2):101-9.
  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986.
  • Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York.
  • Gray AM, Flatt PR. Insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity of the traditional anti- diabetic plant Coriandrum sativum (coriander). Br J Nutr 1999 Mar;81(3):203-9.
  • Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Dover Publications, New York.
  • Kubo I, Fujita K, Kubo A, Nihei K, Ogura T. Antibacterial Activity of Coriander Volatile Compounds against Salmonella choleraesuis. J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Jun 2;52(11):3329-32.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988.

This page was updated on: 2005-05-06 15:14:09
© 2002 The George Mateljan Foundation