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Cilantro: The Culinary Controversial Powerhouse of Nutrition

Dive into the divisive world of cilantro, from its historical roots and diverse culinary applications to its surprising nutritional value and health benefits.

A Peep into Cilantro’s Past

Where did cilantro first sprout up, you ask? Well, this fragrant herb has quite the jet-setter past. With roots tracing back to 5,000 BC, cilantro, or coriander, known in many parts of the world, is one of the oldest herbs on record. Originating in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, cilantro quickly spread worldwide thanks to its versatility and unique flavor.

Mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts, the Old Testament, and even found in tombs of Egyptian pharaohs! From spice mixtures in India to salsa in Mexico, this herb is truly global.

The Many Hats Cilantro Wears in the Kitchen

Oh, the places you’ll go with cilantro! This humble herb used in a multitude of ways across various cuisines. You’d be hard-pressed to find a taco without it or a Thai curry that doesn’t sing with its addition.

Used either fresh or dried, cilantro leaves and seeds (known as coriander) offer two distinctly different flavor profiles. The leaves are often described as bright and citrusy, while the seeds have a warm, spicy quality. Here are some ways to use cilantro:

  • Garnishing soups and stews
  • Blended into pestos or chutneys
  • Added to salads or tacos
  • Used in marinades and dressings
  • Ground into spice mixes
  • Baked into bread
Image of a Cilantro

Cilantro’s Nutritional Breakdown

Let’s get down to brass tacks – what’s the scoop on cilantro’s nutritional value? Turns out, this feisty herb is packed with a bunch of good stuff. It’s low in calories but high in antioxidants, and rich in vitamins and minerals.

Here’s the nutritional profile of a 3.5 oz (100g) serving of raw cilantro:

NutrientValue
Calories23
Protein2.13g
Fat0.52g
Carbohydrate3.67g
Fiber2.8g
Sugars0.87g
Vitamin A6748 IU
Vitamin K310 mcg
Vitamin C27 mg

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do some people hate cilantro?

Isn’t it wild? Some folks absolutely love cilantro, while others say it tastes like soap! It all boils down to genetics. Certain people have a gene that makes them highly sensitive to a compound in cilantro called aldehyde, also found in soap.

Is cilantro good for your health?

You bet! Cilantro is chock-full of antioxidants and packed with vitamins A, K, and C. Linked to many health benefits, including improved skin health, lower blood sugar levels, and better heart health.

Summing Up the Cilantro Story

Despite its polarizing flavor, cilantro has carved its niche in global cuisine and natural medicine. With its rich history, diverse culinary applications, and notable nutritional value, cilantro is more than just a garnish on your plate.

So, whether you’re a fan or not, you’ve got to hand it to cilantro – it’s not just an herb. It’s a conversation starter, a flavor enhancer, and a nutritional powerhouse all rolled into one. Now, that’s a tough act to follow!

Fun Facts:
  1. Cilantro is known as “Chinese parsley” in some countries, even though it’s not closely related to parsley.
  2. It’s a natural preservative. When added to dishes, it can help prevent spoilage due to its antimicrobial properties.
  3. The seeds and leaves of the cilantro plant have different names: the seeds are known as coriander, while the leaves are known as cilantro.

Source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Cristina C. RD LDN
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