Unknown in the wild, coriander originated in the Mediterranean basin, Asia Minor or the Near East. 6,000 years ago, Coriandrum sativum L. was already used for the aroma of its seeds by the Semitic peoples and then by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. In the Bible, this plant is related to the manna of the Hebrews. Widespread throughout medieval Europe, coriander was imported to America during the Spanish conquest. In these different civilisations, all parts of this virtuous herb have been used as traditional remedies for the treatment of different disorders: laryngitis, headaches, blepharitis, scabies, aphthous stomatitis and palpitations.
The Western use of coriander is however quite recent compared to its ancient use in Middle East, India, Southeast Asia or even South America cuisine. Indeed, the smell given off by its leaves was until then considered unpleasant. Coriander has currently become very popular in the herbal market. Its powerful characteristic taste brings a unique flavour to cooked dishes and one of its main virtues is to facilitate digestion.
In terms of benefits, coriander has a wide range of pharmacological activities. Its different parts contain a multitude of bioactive principles with anti-microbial, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anxiolytic and anti-epileptic properties. Added to this are anti-inflammatory, hypolipidemic, hypotensive, neuroprotective and diuretic effects. Its antioxidant compounds come in the form of phenolic acids, but also terpenoids, flavonoids and coumarins. Coriander leaves contain more phenolic acids than its seeds. This plant is also a source of phytosterols and fatty acids. In the latter, we find petroselinic acid and linalool (essential oil). This monoterpenoid compound, linalool, is said to be effective in the treatment of certain inflammatory conditions.
Coriander also provides beneficial vitamin K for the body. Indeed, it is necessary for the synthesis of proteins and thus contributes to good blood clotting. Fresh coriander leaves contain carotenoids, including beta-carotene. Coriander is very low in calories and also has a positive impact on cholesterol levels.
A valuable plant for both its culinary and medicinal uses, coriander is an ingredient of choice for the nutraceutical industry. It is currently in vogue on the food market for flavouring beers and drinks.
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