Culantro vs Cilantro: Differences and benefits

Know in one minute about Culantro vs Cilantro

  • Cilantro vs culantro both are evergreens, flavorsome, and lush leafy herb.
  • The aroma and flavor of culantro are deeper and stronger than cilantro.
  • Culantro can be boiled at a higher heat without damage than cilantro.
  • Cilantro leaves are small and lacy-like parsley while culantro leaves are lettuce-shaped with small yellow spines.
  • Cilantro helps to keep the skin, brain, liver, and kidney healthy, fight against diabetes, pain, and inflammation.
  • Culantro helps to improve fertility and fight against cancer, diabetes, inflammation, pain, bacteria, fungus, and worms.

What is Culantro: Introduction

Culantro (Eryngium foetidum) is a leafy vegetable herb, belonging to the family Apiaceae (Carrot family), which includes carrots, celery, and parsley.

It is widely used as a spice as well as a medicinal plant. Its tender leaves can be consumed by stir fry, boiled, in salsas, chutneys, sauces, rice, stews, and soups, and mixed with meat stuffing. 

Culantro has a pungent odor and bitter, soapy flavor similar to cilantro, but stronger. With a description like that, it is apparent that this is a flavor that some love and some hate.

Geographical distribution

Culantro originated in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central, and South America. On the other hand, it is cultivated worldwide in America, South Asia, Pacific Islands, South Europe, and Africa. 

Botanical description

Culantro is a small, evergreen, branched, biennial plant that grows 8 to 40 cm tall. The leaves are waxy, long with harmless yellow spiny toothed margins that grow rosette patterns around a small central stem.

On the other hand, leaves on the stalks are smaller and tougher. The herb has clustered green flowers along with rounded fruits (1)

Health benefits of Culantro leaves 

1. Antimicrobial properties

Culantro helps to fight against various bacteria and fungus as well as protect the body from infections (2).

2. Anti-inflammatory properties

Culantro leaf contains phytosterol known as stigmasterol and other compounds that help to treat acute (short term) and chronic (long term) intestinal inflammation (3,4)

3. Gastroprotective properties of culantro leaves

Culantro leaf is effective to inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori that causes stomach pain and ulcers (5).

Furthermore, culantro leaves help in killing skin-penetrating parasitic worms that cause internal infections in the intestines (6).

4. Antioxidant properties of culantro leaves

Culantro leaves contain natural antioxidants which are beneficial to remove harmful radicals and protect the body against various diseases. (8, 9).

5. Antidiabetic properties of culantro leaves 

Culantro leaves are rich in flavonoids and saponins that help to reduce blood glucose levels (10).

6. Treat infertility by culantro leaves

Culantro leaves are useful to treat menstrual pain, infertility, problems related to childbirth like placenta removal, and shorten labor (11).

7. Analgesic properties

Culantro leaves are a good source of alkaloids, triterpenoids, and flavonoids which are beneficial to reduce pain by blocking the sensation of pain by sensory neurons (12).

8. Relieve from flatulence or gas

Intake of culantro leaves is effective to treat acidity and prevent the formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract (13).

9. Anticlastogenic properties

β-carotene and Kaempferol obtained from culantro leaves inhibit the disruption or breakages of chromosomes.

Therefore daily intake of culantro leaves act as blocking agents and/or suppressing agents for cancer (14)

10. Treat parasitic infections

Culantro leaves inhibit the growth of parasites and also kill Plasmodium falciparum which causes malaria in humans. (15, 16).

Recipes Use

Culantro leaves are a popular condiment widely used in flavoring, marinating, and seasoning foods like soups and sauces. It is also used to garnishing salads, salsa, sofrito, noodles, curries, vegetables, meat dishes, and snacks.

What is Cilantro: Introduction

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum L.; family Umbelliferae) is the name of coriander leaves widely used in Asian, European, and Central American cuisine.

It is a small herb and contains several branches and sub-branches.  The taste of cilantro differs to individuals who like cilantro may describe it as fresh, fragrant, or citrusy. Whereas those who dislike cilantro report that it tastes soapy, mold, insect, or bug-like (18).

Geographical distribution- This plant is native to Italy, is presently cultivated in (Morocco, Malta, Egypt), and Asia (China, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh). 

Botanical description

The height of the plant can range anywhere between 20 and 140 cm. The recently produced leaves are oval, but aerial leaves are elongated and more divided (19). It is an annual herbaceous plant best grown between October and February (20).

Health benefits of cilantro

1. Good for skin

Cilantro intake helps to increase collagen synthesis and protect the skin against UVB-induced damages (21).

2. Anti-diabetic and lower cholesterol level by cilantro 

Cilantro contains a good amount of phenolics, flavonoids, steroids, and tannins which help to decrease blood glucose levels (22). It also decreases total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level and increases high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (23).

3. Cilantro treat liver disease

Cilantro contains phenolic compounds that treat liver injury caused by different chemicals. (24, 25).

4. Treat food poisoning

Cilantro helps to fight against the bacteria Salmonella choleraesuis that causes typhoid, diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and vomiting to severe infections (26).

5. Treat Memory Loss

Daily intake of cilantro helps to reverse the memory deficits induced by the aging process and beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients (27).

6. Treat epileptic seizures 

Cilantro consumption helps to prevent or delay the duration, amplitude, and frequency of epileptic fits and other seizures (28).

7. Treat arthritis

Cilantro controls oxidative stress and increases serum calcium levels in arthritis patients (29).

8. Treat pain

Flavonoids such as quercetin found in cilantro act as an analgesic agent that helps to relieve pain (30).

9. Cilantro increases appetite

Cilantro acts as an appetite stimulant which helps to increase food intake and body weight. However, further study is needed to determine this effect on humans (31).

10. To keep the kidney healthy by cilantro

Intake of cilantro helps to decrease the concentrations of iron, arsenic, and cadmium in the kidney (32)

11. Induce sleep

The presence of linalool in cilantro is beneficial to show a calming or sedative effect. It increases sleep time without any neurotoxic effect (33).

Uses in recipes

Cilantro can be eaten raw or used in countless ways to enhance taste and nutrition. It is used as a parsley-like to add some color and flavor in the salad, soups, sauces, chutneys, and meat dishes.

Culantro vs. Cilantro

Culantro is a botanical cousin of cilantro, but they are two different herbs. They look nothing alike although they have a similar aroma and flavor. Let’s take a look at some differences between them. 

Culantro

Cilantro

Common NameSpiny coriander, long-leaf coriander (bandhania), Mexican coriander, or Mexican parsleyCoriander (dhaniya), Chinese parsley, or Phak chee
Taste or flavor It has stronger citrus or earthy flavor and pungent aroma than cilantro. Cilantro is much lighter in flavor than culantro. 
ConsumptionCulantro has a more robust flavor that’s why it isn’t usually consumed fresh. It can be put in a salad but cut into thin ribbonsRaw cilantro is used to garnish or chopped and sprinkled into the top of the dish.
How to useIt works best to add culantro during the cooking process to bring out the flavor of foods.

The leaves are tougher than cilantro and can be boiled at a high heat without damage.

Added only after cooking as the leaves are delicate and soft.

The leaves are more soft and delicate than culantro so high heat diminishes its flavor.

Amount or proportionCulantro tastes bitter in great amounts because it is ten times stronger than that of cilantro. Thus it can be used in fewer amounts so it doesn’t overpower the dish.Used in moderate amount than culantro 
Annual or biennial It is a biennial herb (lasts for two years). It means to come back for several years from the same shoot.Cilantro is an annual plant, which means it dies off every year and comes back from the seeds it produced.

 

Leaves Culantro leaves are long, waxy, saw-toothed, and lettuce-shaped with several small yellow spines.The leaves are small and lacy like parsley, have three ‘fingers’ that are rounded with no spines 
Leaf structureThe leaves grow in rosettes form on a thick short stem and are arranged spirally.The leaves grow on the tips of long, thin stems which are several inches above the ground.
FlowerCulantro flowers are green and also have spines. The spines become quite sharp as the plant matures.   The flowers of cilantro are white and have no spines.

 

They have a different nutritional profile 

When it comes to nutrition, culantro is quite distinct in all the nutrients and minerals. Culantro contains a lower amount of multi-elements than cilantro. 

CompoundCulantroCilantro
Moisture (%)83.3387.9
Crude protein (%)2.633.3
Reducing sugar (%)8.266.5
Ascorbic acid (mg/100g)32.33135
Fat (%)0.734.78
Fibre (%) 31.5010.40

 

However, there is less difference and can be used in the place of cilantro for daily consumption or dietary supplement (1).

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