Parsley and Cilantro, two beautiful herbs that typically get dismissed as a garnish or put into salsa for a little more flavor, are anti-inflammatory powerhouses that should be making their way into your cooking this fall. But before diving in further with the health promoting benefits of Parsley and Cilantro, let’s talk about inflammation, which in this day and age is THE topic we should be addressing.
Inflammation, in very simple terms, is the immune response of our bodies to a foreign object, be it dirt, a splinter, a fungus or a virus. So, we need this in our bodies in order to survive. However, our modern lifestyle can hijack that innate response turning it on us and creating a host of unwanted health issues within. For example, chronic stress sends signals to our body that there is a threat (picture a tiger after you), when in reality it’s all, literally, in your head. It’s the long “to do” list or your bills or the loved one that is unwell or a crazy boss at work or the world situation or all of the above. Our body can’t differentiate whether we are actually being stalked by a predator or if the predator is our mind racing and circling. And we respond as if we were being chased over and over again, leading to chronic inflammation. Which is terrible because it leads to all sorts of things like: Heart disease, autoimmune disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, metabolic syndrome etc. All those diseases we need to avoid in order to stay alive in this modern world.
Another source of inflammation in the body is our modern day processed food diet, full of chemicals that I won’t name, because I can’t even pronounce them and should not be in our food, much less in our tummies. All the Canola, safflower, sunflower and cotton seed oils that our body can’t recognize as food. The synthetic dyes and flavorings, preservatives, conditioners, thickeners, sweeteners and fillers, none of them are food and none of them can be processed by our gut’s bacteria, which in turn leads to unhealthy gut microbiota, linings and a load of chronic inflammation.
Ok, now that we are done with that, let’s get into the beauty of the plant kingdom and how it can actually make us healthier and keep us there!
Unless you have been disconnected from the world in the last 5 or so years, you must’ve heard about gut health and that enormous population that resides within us. It’s a mix of bacteria, fungus and viruses. We live in harmony with each other, when we eat, we feed them and they pay us by making all kinds of compounds that help us stay inflammation and disease free.
Just like we have a trillion of extra inhabitants in our bodies, each living being on this planet does so too. Every time you bite an apple, you are adopting a portion of its own microbiota and making it part of your being. Amazing, right? But there is a catch, there are two kinds of inhabitants: the good and the bad. We obviously want the good guys to outnumber the bad, right? And the best way to do that, is by eating a variety of plants (leafy greens, roots, nuts, seeds, fruits, legumes, beans etc) Everything that mama Nature grows, will benefit our good guys and stave off inflammation. When we eat processed, chemically laden franken foods, we feed the bad guys and they wreak havoc inside.
And now back to our two little pot herbs: Parsley and Cilantro. As I mentioned before, they are anti-inflammatory powerhouses. They are full of antioxidants ( compounds that keep us healthy and young), vitamins and beautiful, cleansing Chlorophyl (what makes green plants green).
Let’s start with parsley: it is loaded with Vitamin K, which helps Calcium enter your bones. Just 10 stems of it gives you 100% of your daily Vitamin K requirements. It also contains a substantial amount of Vitamin A, C and E, which soothe inflammation and help fight infections, by strengthening our immune system. Vitamin C is also important to keep our skin taut and smooth, by aiding in Collagen production. Vitamin A, helps keep your eyes healthy and those glasses in your bedside drawer. And if you suffer from frequent UTI’s, consider adding it to your daily smoothie or salad. Micro doses of herbs are just as powerful, or more, than taking a load of them in one serving.
On the other hand we have Cilantro, which is also filled with disease preventing antioxidants. Fun fact: some people say it tastes like soap and it turns out that is a genetic trait. So, while you might love it, if your friend says it tastes like soap, you’d better believe that to them it does.
Cilantro is an amazing Chelator. A what? Chelation is the process by which your body binds any heavy metals that have entered your blood stream or tissues, to be excreted through your bowels. And Cilantro is amazing at catching these substances, so you can get rid of them. It also helps keep your blood sugar levels balanced, avoiding diabetes, metabolic disease and helping you get rid of stubborn body fat. Anxious? Grab some Cilantro, some recent studies have found that Cilantro extract works just as well as some pharmaceuticals. It’s also an amazing brain and heart protector, because of its high antioxidant content.
So there you have it, chop some of these beauties and toss them with your salads for an added health boost. And don’t forget to eat them regularly throughout the fall and winter to keep infections at bay.