If you enjoy food from a variety of cuisines, you’re no stranger to cilantro.

From Thai (Thai Roasted Squash Soup) and Indian (Indian Chickpea Dip, Madras Curry Dip for Fish/Seafood) cuisine to Mexican (Golden Guacamole, Harvest Stuffed Squash, Granny Smith Guacamole) and Middle Eastern (Middle Eastern Meatballs) dishes, this fragrant herb is a seasoning staple.

Also called Chinese or Mexican parsley, cilantro is the leafy part of the coriander plant. In folk and holistic medicine, it has been used to settle the stomach, relieve anxiety, lower cholesterol levels, help control diabetes, reduce inflammation and treat infections.

Modern medical research has confirmed the herb’s healing powers. In the August issue of Environmental Nutrition, registered dietitian Sharon Palmer cites cilantro’s antioxidant properties, which “may be due to their rich phytonutrients profile that scientists are beginning to identify.”

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, also discovered that dodecenal—an antibacterial compound found in cilantro—can help kill Salmonella in foods. This finding led them to explore its use as a natural food additive. The researchers found cilantro to be a “potent antibiotic” and encouraged consumers to eat more fresh salsa. That said, they remind us that it’s no substitute for proper food handling.

Tune in tomorrow for our weekend recipe for Chiles Rellenos, which features a healthy dose of cilantro.

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