Cilantro (also known as coriander) is an herb that is closely related to parsley. In fact, it is sometimes called Chinese parsley. All parts of the plant are edible but it’s the leaves and the dried seeds which are most commonly used in cooking. Do you use cilantro at home? Have you wondered if dogs can eat cilantro? We have answers for you about cilantro below.
Coriander may have first grown wild in the area that is now Israel. The first references to coriander, one of the names of this herb, appears in Mycenaean Greek, the most ancient form of the Greek language. Later it turns up in Old French and in English in the 14th century. It’s safe to assume that people have been using coriander/cilantro for many centuries. Cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander. This word is common in American and Canadian English because the herb is frequently used in Mexican food.
All parts of the coriander plant are edible but it is the leaves and the dried seeds which are traditionally used in various cuisines. The leaves are considered to be an herb while the dried seeds are used as a spice.
For most people, cilantro has a lemon/lime taste. However, thanks to a specific gene that allows people to detect certain aldehydes that are used as odorant substances in some soaps and detergents, about one-quarter of people surveyed report that coriander leaves taste like dish soap. For these people, the presence of cilantro in a food can ruin a meal.
Coriander leaves are used in many foods such as chutneys, salads, salsas, guacamole, soups, fish, and meat dishes. Heat will reduce their flavor so they are often used fresh or added to a dish just before serving. The leaves are a popular ingredient in Mexican, Indian, and central Asian cuisines.
Coriander often refers solely to the seeds of the plant. When crushed, they tend to have a lemon-citrus flavor. This is due to the compounds terpenes, linapool, and pinene. You can buy coriander seeds whole or ground in grocery stores. Ground coriander seeds loose their flavor quickly when they are stored so it’s usually best to buy them fresh and grind them for the most flavor. They are normally found as one of the spices in garam masala and used in Indian curries.
Coriander seeds are also used for pickling. In some countries they are used as one of the spices for making sausages. They are even used to brew some beers such as Belgian wheat beers. Coriander seeds are one of the primary botanicals used to give flavor to gin. Coriander was also one of the original ingredients in the secret recipe for Coca-Cola.
Coriander leaves provide more nutrition than many herbs. They contain 4 percent carbohydrates 2 percent protein, and 1 percent fat. The leaves provide generous amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. They also contain moderate amounts of some minerals. The seeds generally have less vitamin content but they contain dietary fiber, calcium, selenium, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
Coriander (Cilantro) Leaves, Raw
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||95 kJ (23 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||2.8 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||11%
|Link to USDA Database entry|
· μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
· IU = International units
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central
In terms of health benefits, a preliminary study showed that essential oil from coriander inhibited Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Escherichia coli.
Coriander contains the compound dodecenal which appears to fight some infections and foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella. One study also found that coriander seeds can fight the bacteria responsible for urinary tract infections.
According to animal studies, coriander seeds, extracts, and oils may help lower blood sugar levels. Coriander is so effective at lowering blood sugar that if you have low blood sugar or take medication for diabetes, it’s recommended that you use caution with products made from it.
The antioxidants in coriander have been shown to fight inflammation in the body. Coriander contains compounds such as terpinene, quercetin, and tocopherols which appear to have benefits such as being anti-cancer, protecting the neurological system, and boosting the immune system according to animal studies.
Some tests suggest that coriander may help lower risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
The anti-inflammatory properties of coriander may also help with brain inflammation, improve memory, and reduce anxiety, though more research is necessary.
One small study found that oil extracted from coriander seeds appeared to help with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It may reduce symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain. It has also been used as an appetite stimulant.
Keep in mind that most of these studies were small and used animals as subjects. More research is necessary. Studies like these also use very concentrated amounts of an extract so you might not experience the same results when using an herb as an ingredient in a food.
Some people are allergic to coriander leaves or to the seeds. They can exhibit symptoms similar to other food allergies. Cross-allergies can include caraway, fennel, and celery. The allergic reactions can vary from minor to life-threatening.
Can Dogs Have Cilantro?
Yes, cilantro or coriander is considered safe for dogs. Dogs may or may not like the taste of cilantro but it’s something that can be added to your dog’s food in small amounts without much fuss.
Along with providing some vitamins and minerals in small amounts, cilantro also has some health benefits. It may help ease some minor digestive problems such as gas. Or, you might find that it works as an appetite stimulant for some dogs.
Although cilantro does have some vitamins and minerals, your dog should already be getting these nutrients from his dog food. Some people claim that the vitamin A in cilantro can help a dog’s eyesight.
Cilantro reportedly helps reduce anxiety so if your dog does get nervous or anxious, you might try a little for this purpose.
Lowering anxiety can also help some dogs sleep better so cilantro can be helpful for dogs that need extra rest.
It is possible that a dog could have an allergic reaction to cilantro/coriander so you should always watch for a reaction when introducing a new food or ingredient to your dog’s diet. If your dog is allergic to caraway, fennel, or celery, you may want to avoid giving him cilantro/coriander since it is in the same plant family.
Dogs that are diabetic or that have low blood sugar levels may need to avoid cilantro/coriander because it can lower blood sugar. Talk to your veterinarian if you have questions. We would suggest that you avoid giving cilantro/coriander to small breed puppies since they can sometimes have issues with hypoglycemia.
How Much Cilantro Can You Give Your Dog?
Since cilantro does have a unique flavor, it’s best to start by giving your dog just a small amount to allow him to get used to it. If all goes well, you can gradually increase the amount.
You can sprinkle a small amount of the chopped fresh leaves in with your dog’s regular kibble. If you add too much, your dog might refuse the food so just add a small amount. You could also begin with a pinch of the ground herb mixed in with a special food that your dog loves such as hamburger meat.
You can also add ¼ teaspoon of ground cilantro to wet dog food. Or, if you have cilantro essential oil, you can add one drop in your dog’s water bowl.
You shouldn’t give your dog human foods that contain cilantro since they almost always contain other ingredients such as onions or garlic that can be harmful to dogs.
If your dog likes the cilantro in his food and he has no allergic reaction to the ingredient, you could give him a little each day.
Cilantro or coriander is safe for dogs to eat. It contains several vitamins and minerals. It also has some health benefits that may help your dog’s digestion. It also appears to have anti-inflammatory properties and some other benefits. You can add a small amount to your dog’s food. If your dog is diabetic or has low blood sugar, talk to your veterinarian before giving your dog cilantro.