Herbs are often overlooked in the discussion about eating more fruits and vegetables, and yet herbs can play a major role in preparing healthy food. Not only do herbs make food taste fabulous without additional salt, oil, and sugar, but they can also improve the nutritional profile of a meal. Many herbs contain polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that boost the immune system, reduce cellular inflammation, maintain a good balance of microbes in the digestive tract, promote longevity, and fight pain. In other words, they’re subtle miracle workers.
You either love it or hate it, but hopefully you love it because cilantro is rich in vitamin K. It strengthens bones and helps to clot blood. Cilantro leaves have been shown to have an antibacterial effect against salmonella. The oil in its leaves can inhibit oxidation when added to other foods, preventing or slowing spoilage. Cilantro is being studied as a water purifier and has been shown to detoxify lead accumulation in lab rats.
When cooking with cilantro, be sure to the use the stalks as well as the leaves, since they contain plenty of rich flavor. It’s wonderful in Indian foods, sprinkled over beans, rice or lentils, added to green salads, or blended into a pesto-like sauce.