the herb that loves your liver
Oh no, you might say: not cilantro!
When springtime arrives, I like to spotlight the herb that’s prone to digestible dispute.
People either love it or hate it.
It’s met with either adoration or repulsion.
Which camp are you in when it comes to cilantro?
On the hate side, can you believe there’s a Facebook Fan Page called “I Hate Cilantro“? (There’s actually more than one Facebook Page devoted to cilantro loathing – and if you’re among this crowd, and tempted to head over there right now, please STOP! Read on and give cilantro a chance.)
Personally, I don’t remember eating the fresh herb until my young adult years. As a cilantro lover, that’s an atrocity. I love the crisp texture, the hint of lemon. I enjoy cilantro in salsa, curry, spring rolls, and as a base for pesto. Lately I’ve been using it to make a garlicky chimichurri (recipe below). Yum!
And don’t forget fish tacos! Cilantro makes a fish taco.
But my favorite place for cilantro is my morning green smoothie.
Before you scrunch up your nose, consider that the beauty of cilantro lies not only in its refreshing flavor (for those of us in the love category), but also in it’s powerful health benefits. Among them are its abilities to help remove heavy metals from the body.
Cilantro has been considered the “poor man’s chelation treatment“. And chelation – the removal of heavy metals from the bloodstream – is what we all need right now, as we transition into spring and begin to support the body’s most powerful pathways of detoxification.
Note: I like to do “chelation” the natural way, capturing the body’s innate energies and abilities to detoxify and using foods to support the process.
The liver is your almighty organ of detox.
It’s working overtime to help you sort the pure from the impure.
Yet the liver is one of your body’s major multi-taskers. Just like you, trying to keep pace with modern-day living, your liver is charged with doing the same – all of what it’s meant to do and then some!
Let’s take a peek at the daily grind for your liver…
- it produces and secretes bile to aid in the digestion of fats
- it manages your carbohydrate metabolism, converting excess glucose for storage and later use, and secreting it as needed
- it’s involved in hormonal regulation, breaking down and discarding excess circulating hormones
- it filters the blood, scanning for toxins, destroying and disposing of them
It’s like sending one of my most dynamic organs to a spa, to kick-back, take a break and get some tender loving care.
It’s time to give your liver a little loving!
But first, try some cilantro.
You’ve gotta love an herb that supports your liver function.
Chimichurri is traditionally made with parsley but try replacing all (or some) of the parsley with cilantro for a liver loving twist.
This sauce is often used on grilled fish and meat but it’s also divine on roasted veggies, on zoodles or kelp noodles, as a spread in your wraps, or as a tapenade.
This super simple sauce is a delicious ‘dollop of yum’ as Rebecca Katz (author of The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen) likes to say.
- 2 cups cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 fresh jalapeño, seeded, chopped
- 2 tspn ground cumin
- 2 tspn ground coriander
- 1/2 tspn sea salt or to taste
Add garlic, jalapeño, and cilantro to the food processor. Pulse. Add lemon or lime juice, olive oil, cumin, coriander, and salt. Pulse until well combined but slightly chunky. Makes about 1 1/2 cups of yum!
Cilantro is the fresh, leafy herb from the coriander plant. While I tend to call the seed coriander and the frilly plant cilantro, you’ll find that the plant is sometimes referred to as coriander as well.
Like parsley, cilantro belongs to the carrot family. It looks similar to parsley too, but cilantro leaves tend to be flatter, softer and lighter in color.
The Health Benefits of Cilantro
- Cilantro helps to regulate energy with its astringent and cooling flavor.
- Cilantro is a diuretic, making it useful in the treatment of any urinary tract infections, helping to wash away any unwanted bacteria. In fact, cilantro contains a compound called Dodecenol which has been shown to have a powerful antibiotic capacity.
- Both cilantro and coriander are great digestive aids. The oils they contain help to relieve gas (which may account for their accompaniment in bean-laden Mexican dishes!), soothe stomach pain, reduce bloating and promote the peristalsis that keeps our food moving through the GI tract.
- Cilantro is an efficacious detoxifier, effectively mobilizing heavy metals such as mercury and aluminum out of the bloodstream. (Aim for 2 tablespoons per day.) The mechanism of action is pretty cool here. The chemical compounds in cilantro actually bind to the heavy metals, loosen them from the tissues, blood and organs, and transport the harmful substances out of the body through elimination.
- You can quell pain and symptoms of inflammation by the continued use of cilantro, which is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s the cineole and linoleic acid contained within cilantro that house these antirheumatic and antiarthritic properties.
- And cilantro is one of your natural cholesterol regulating agents ~ helping to increase HDL and decrease LDL by stimulating the conversion of cholesterol to bile acids in the liver. This will simultaneously aid and improve in the digestion of fat.
- Most people who don’t like cilantro are reacting to the herb’s smell, not taste. If you don’t like cilantro, but want to experience its blessings, hold your nose while you throw it in your blender and give it a whirl.
Uses for Cilantro
- You can substitute cilantro for the basil and toasted pumpkin seeds for the nuts in your favorite pesto recipe.
- Any Thai soup or curry is scrumptious topped with cilantro. You can also try the infusion done with this recipe. Think coconut, carrot, veggies, turmeric…
- Chicken or fish can be rubbed or stuffed with cilantro before cooking, by itself or in a marinade.
- Don’t forget all your Mexican dishes where cilantro can be added ~ salsa, guacamole, burritos, tacos, gazpacho, beans and even egg dishes.
- Add cilantro sprigs to glasses of water squeezed with lemon.
- Include cilantro in a homemade coleslaw.
- And don’t miss the opportunity to throw some cilantro in your next smoothie. Here’s a nice mixture: peeled grapefruit, peeled cucumber, cilantro, lime, vanilla, cinnamon and a little liquid stevia or raw honey.