Cilantro & Weight Loss

Through providing concentrated nutrition without a lot of calories and possibly helping you to better absorb and assimilate the food you eat, cilantro may support a balanced approach to weight loss. However, as noted by an effective weight-loss regimen must include a regular exercise program, balanced diet and taking in fewer calories than you will use. There is not conclusive clinical evidence for the use of cilantro to support weight loss. Talk to your doctor before taking herbal supplements, changing your diet or starting an exercise program.


According to "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies," cilantro, also known as chinese parsley, probably originated in India and reached China about 2,000 years ago. Cilantro is part of the carrot family and resembles parsley, but with flatter and lighter-colored leaves. It has an anise-like taste and is an important part of many traditional cuisines--including Southeast Asian, Mexican, African and Middle Eastern.

Properties of Cilantro

Medicinal use of cilantro dates back to the days of Hippocrates in ancient Greece, says "The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants." Uses of cilantro include treatment for internal and external inflammation, indigestion, nausea, mental stress, intestinal gas, cramps and bloating. Cilantro may help stimulate circulation, encourage digestive assimilation and relieve constipation by regulating peristalsis--movement of the bowel. Cilantro has a long history of use in herbal medicine, but there is not clinical evidence of its effectiveness to relieve medical problems or aid in weight loss.


In the simplest terms, weight loss requires taking in less calories than you will use. However, all calories are not equal, since some deliver more nutrition than others. According to "Diet and Nutrition" by Rudolph Ballentine, one important key to weight loss is to make sure that your body feels satisfied by giving it foods that are naturally high in vitamins and minerals and relatively low in calories. One-fourths cup of cilantro has only one calorie and provides 16 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K as well as signifiacnt amounts of thiamine, zinc, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, iron, magnesium, folate, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and vitamins A, C, E, K and B6.


Since cilantro is regarded as a digestive aid, it may help with the assimilation of the foods you eat along with it. When your body digests and assimilates the nutrients from what you eat, you will probably feel more full, inclined to eat less and avoid eating foods with empty calories, says Ballentine. Cilantro may also regulate elimination to help prevent constipation, a condition that contributes to digestive problems and weight gain, says "The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia."


Use cilantro as you would parsley. Its strong flavor means a little goes a long way, and it is a popular flavoring or garnish for soups, stews, curries, meat and grain dishes. Juice fresh cilantro for concentrated nutrition. It has a strong flavor, so drink only a little at a time or juice it along with apples or carrots to temper the taste. Wrap fresh cilantro with a damp cloth or perforated plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, recommends "The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia."