Cilantro & Cholesterol

Cilantro — Coriandrum sativum, also known as coriander or Chinese parsley — is an herb in the carrot and parsley family with a wide native range that includes parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia. All parts of the plant are edible; however, the leaves, usually referred to as cilantro, and seeds, known as the spice coriander, are used most often. Among cilantro’s purported benefits is its ability to lower cholesterol levels.

Diabetic Cholesterol-Lowering

Cilantro may lower cholesterol in diabetics, according to an animal study published in the July 2012 “Journal of Food Science.” Cilantro supplementation decreased levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, the bad form of cholesterol, and raised levels of high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, the good form of cholesterol. Antioxidants in cilantro inhibited lipid oxidation — damaging effects due to accumulated toxins and waste products — and promoted the increased activity of antioxidant enzymes in the liver. Cilantro also exerted significant blood-sugar-lowering effects, which can help reduce triglyceride levels. Researchers concluded that cilantro offers potential as a natural means for preventing and treating diabetes.

Rapid Effects

Cilantro lowered cholesterol levels after a single dose in an animal study published in the September 2011 “Journal of Ethnopharmacology.” In the study, doses of 20 milligrams per kilogram of body weight of cilantro seed, or coriander, extract prevented blood sugar from becoming elevated and promoted normal blood sugar levels within six hours. Cilantro extract made cells more responsive to insulin, though insulin levels did not change. In a 30-day portion of the study, both blood sugar levels and insulin levels decreased.

Cholesterol-Lowering and Brain Benefits

Your risk for Alzheimer’s disease may decrease, in part, as a result of cilantro’s cholesterol-lowering benefits, according to a study published in the January 2011 “Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.” In the animal study, diets supplemented with 5 to 15 percent fresh cilantro for 45 days markedly reduced cholesterol levels. Activity of an enzyme that breaks down a brain-activating neurotransmitter decreased with cilantro supplementation. Additionally, scores on memory tests improved, with greater results occurring as dosage levels increased. Researchers concluded that cilantro’s cholesterol-lowering benefits, along with other effects, help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Culinary Uses

Cilantro adds a burst of fresh flavor as a garnish, in salsas, sprinkled on salads, or stirred into soups. You can be creative and add it to omelet fillings, tuna, and chicken salad, or blend it into hummus. If you have a home juicer, reserve the stems of fresh cilantro and add them to your favorite vegetable juice blend. Cilantro seed is an important ingredient in traditional Thai foods and in some curry dishes.


  1. Journal of Food Science: Antioxidant, Antihyperglycemic, and Antihyperlipidemic Effects of Coriandrum Sativum Leaf and Stem in Alloxan-Induced Diabetic Rats
  2. Journal of Ethnopharmacology: Hypoglycemic and Hypolipidemic Effects of Coriandrum Sativum L. in Meriones Shawi Rats
  3. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture: Reversal of Memory Deficits by Coriandrum Sativum Leaves in Mice
  4. UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library: Coriander (Cilantro)

Important Notice: This article was originally published at by Tracey Roizman, D.C.where all credits are due.


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