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Cilantro Health Facts

By Nicki Wolf

Cilantro, an herb also commonly known as cilantro or Chinese parsley, is popular in Mexican and Asian cuisines. The health facts of this herb point to a fairly low nutritional value in terms of macronutrients, but it does contain vitamins and minerals. Some people find this herb imparts a soapy taste due to a genetic anomaly.

Calories and Fat

Cilantro leaves are quite low in calories and fat. Each 1/4-cup serving of this herb contains just 1 calorie and 0.02 g of fat, making it a good option to add flavor to recipes in reduced-fat and reduced-calorie dishes. In a 2,000-calorie maintenance diet, the amount of calories account for 0.5 percent of the quantity of calories you should consume each day.

Carbohydrates and Protein

With such a small amount of calories, it stands to reason that cilantro does not contain many carbs or protein. One serving of this herb provides 0.15 g of carbs and 0.09 g of protein. It is likely that you will add cilantro to a recipe, rather than eat it by itself.

Vitamin K

One serving of cilantro provides 16 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K. Your body relies on vitamin K in your diet to help it coagulate blood -- this prevents a cut or scratch from becoming a major medical event. If you take blood thinners, you might need extra vitamin K. Consult your physician before adding cilantro to your diet for the purpose of beating a vitamin K deficiency.

Vitamin A

Cilantro serves as a source of vitamin A, a vitamin important for the health of your eyes. One serving of this herb contains 5 percent of the quantity of vitamin A you require daily. Eating cilantro can bolster your night vision and reduce your risk of eye infections thanks to vitamin A’s corneal protections.

Other Vitamins and Minerals

A serving of cilantro has 2 percent of the vitamin C you should consume each day, as well as 1 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin E, folate, potassium and manganese. While these amounts are quite small, the vitamins and minerals in this quantity of cilantro make this herb good for your immune system, heart function and bone health.

Cognitive Function Benefits

Consuming cilantro might help improve your memory. Research published in the January 2011 issue of the “Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture” says mouse studies suggest cognitive benefits from ingesting cilantro; researchers theorize it might be useful for Alzheimer’s patients. Human studies are needed to help support this hypothesis.

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