Cilantro leaves and coriander seeds both packed with beneficial phytonutrients. Animal research shows promising health benefits for humans. Regularly eating coriander may reduce bad cholesterol levels (the LDL form), control blood sugar by stimulating insulin production in pancreatic cells and reduce cellular damage by free radicals. Coriander contributes fiber that promotes healthy digestion and nutrient extraction from foods. Coriander has antibiotic components. The volatile oil dodecenal kills Salmonella bacteria responsible for many food poisonings. Cilantro helps remove potentially toxic heavy metals that damage nerve functions. Many popular antioxidants help defend important cells from damage that could lead to reduced vision, higher cholesterol, weakened blood vessels and minor inflammation.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – traces
Minerals – Manganese, Iron and Magnesium
Cilantro in the regular diet may help reduce symptoms or even prevent heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and anemia. Cilantro has also been a popular treatment to help defend against urinary tract infections.
How to Grow
Cilantro is an annual plant with very aromatic leaves. Also known as the producer of coriander seeds, it grows easily in a container or on the plant bed in a garden. Grows best in sheltered, rich, moist and well-drained soil in full sun. If you get extreme heat, consider a site shaded part of the day. Difficult to transplant. If growing outdoors, plant seeds in spring after the last frost. Weeds tend to grow faster at first than your herb, so keep them weed free early on. Plant seeds half inch deep and spaced out about an inch. If growing in rows, keep rows 12-15 inches apart. Begin to harvest leaves when the plant is roughly 6 inches tall. Harvest outside leaves first, and thin out the plant as you go to maintain good air circulation. For maximum leaf production, cut off the flower stalks when they develop, which forces more energy into leaf production. When the plant bolts to seed, collect seeds and use them as a spice or a way to get more cilantro later on. Cilantro loses its flavor quickly when it dries out, so keep it fresh in a cool area.
Cilantro’s pungent smell keeps most pests away. If any, aphids or white flies might attack. Aphids can be expelled with a strong stream of water, but cilantro is too weak to withstand it. Instead, destroy aphids, (which attack many plants) by planting French marigolds to attract their predators. Hoverflies and ladybugs eat aphids by the thousands. White flies are strongly attracted to the color yellow. Get rid of them by creating an old fashioned flytrap with yellow paper and a gooey substance to cover the paper. White flies will land on the paper and be stuck for good.
Another way to experiment with the initial planting is to start a few indoors and transplant them outside after the last frost while also planting seeds directly outdoors. Get a continuous sowing of seeds going in the spring for continuous harvest, because cilantro runs to seed rather quickly after sprouting up.