Coriander is the dried seed of the cilantro plant. The whole seeds look like tiny round balls and are commonly ground into a powder and used for seasoning food. Coriander has a multifaceted flavor profile and can be used in many types of recipes. It is most commonly found in Indian cuisine but can be paired with anything from salad dressing to barbecue rub.
This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of coriander and an in-depth look at its possible health benefits, how to incorporate more coriander into your diet and the potential health risks of consuming coriander.
Nutritional breakdown of coriander
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database1, two tablespoons of ground coriander seed contain 30 calories, 1.2 grams of protein, 1.8 grams of fat, and 5.6 grams of carbohydrates (including 4 grams of fiber and 0 grams of sugar). That same 2 tablespoon serving provides 68% of your daily vitamin K needs, 10% of iron, 8% ofcalcium, and 4% of vitamin C.
Possible health benefits of consuming coriander
A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that common spices – including coriander – can inhibit heterocyclic amine (HCA) formation in meats during cooking. HCAs, defined by the National Cancer Institute, are chemicals formed when meat is cooked at high temperatures.2 A high consumption of foods containing HCAs is associated with higher risk ofcancer.
These anticancer effects were demonstrated further in a different study published in theJournal of Food Science, in which five Asian spices, including coriander, were used to cook meats. The meats cooked with those spices had a significant decrease in HCA formation.2
Dietary carotenoids can decrease the risk of numerous conditions, including several cancers and eye disease, due to their role as antioxidants.3 A study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition showed that basil and coriander contained the highest levels of the carotenoids beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, all known for their antioxidant abilities.2
How to incorporate more coriander into your diet
Coriander has a versatile flavor profile and can be used in anything from dressings and sauces to meat rubs and even desserts.
Whole coriander seeds can be stored in airtight containers for 1-2 years and ground coriander seeds can be stored in airtight containers for 6 months.
- Add coriander into spice mixtures such as curry or barbecue rub
- Make a homemade dressing using part oil, part vinegar and seasonings including coriander
- Change up your go-to marinades by adding coriander.
Or, try these healthy and delicious recipes developed by registered dietitians:
Potential health risks of consuming coriander
Salmonella is a potential health risk when consuming coriander. In a study of more than 20,000 food shipments, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that 15% of coriander imports were contaminated with Salmonella. More than 80% of the US spice supply is imported.4
The testing for Salmonella was conducted at the time of import. At retail level, the risk is less likely, particularly with large, more reputable spice companies. Heating food to 150-170°F will kill bacteria, including Salmonella.4
Coriander may be an allergen, and because it is often used in combination with spices, it is hard to detect. According to dietitian Sherry Coleman Collins, “coriander is in the family of spices that includes caraway, fennel, and celery – all of which have been implicated in allergic reactions in recent years.”5
Written by Megan Ware RDN LD