The many benefits of this parsley relative
By Josiah Groth
Cilantro is an herb that grows worldwide and has some amazing health benefits. We can grow it here in central Wisconsin easily, but if that is not of interest to you, you can always pick it up at the local supermarket. I urge everybody to incorporate a bit of this wonderful plant into their diets.
Cilantro, or Coriandrum sativum, goes by many interchangeable names. It is a member of the parsley family, Apiaceae, which provides a hint as to why it is often called Mexican parsley and Chinese parsley.
The parsley-like leaves are the main part people eat, but the seeds of the cilantro plant are a spice called coriander, hence the Latin name Coriandrum. Coriander is a major spice in India, where it makes up one of the three base spices for balanced healthy curry cooking: three parts coriander, two parts cumin, and one part turmeric.
Ancient and modern research both seem to point to several positive benefits of cilantro. Many of those benefits have to do with improving digestion, detoxification, and helping to process carbohydrates and sugars throughout the body. In addition to aiding in these important functions, cilantro provides many valuable vitamins, antioxidants, and essential oils.
For common use at home, it is most helpful as a nutrient-filled, cooling summer spice. Have you ever noticed that cilantro is very often included in salsas? The leaves aid digestion without increasing the acid levels of the salsa, bring cooling energetic tones for balance, and flush out the taste profile of the salsa, making it healthier and tastier.
Growing and harvesting
Here are just a few tips to get you started with growing your own cilantro.
1: Scar the seeds a bit to improve the rate of germination. The husks on the seeds are tough. I know this because I like to grind my own whole herbs in the kitchen, and coriander seeds do not break down as easily as many others do in my converted coffee grinder.
2: Plant it in cooler areas with semi shade to slow down the speed of bolting. Hot temperatures trigger it to change its growth pattern to making seeds instead of the delicious leaves.
3: You can plant cilantro up to every four weeks to keep a constant supply. It only takes about two weeks after planting before you can harvest the leaves, so regular heavy harvesting to keep it from bolting combined with several sowings throughout the summer will keep you loaded with cilantro.
4: Most common pests will leave it alone, so the leaves are often very healthy and easy to prepare for eating. The only issue is that they are often dusty and collect dirt, but that is easily remedied with washing.
Josiah Groth is the owner of Back to Bliss Wellness. More information on his practice is available at backtoblisswellness.com.