Coriander and Quality of Life
The nutritional value of coriander is something that not many people know about. It is often considered just a garnish, a decoration on a dish that often gets left on our plates, or we only associate it as a flavour component of Thai food. However, the benefits of eating coriander regularly are incredible…. staggering even.
I just wrote my parents (in their late 70’s) a list of 3 things I want them to do for their health; for longevity and for quality of life. Eating more coriander was 1 of the 3.
I’ll share the other two in another post, another time….
Why is coriander so important for those of us in mid to late life?
Primarily, I think, for the benefits it has on eye health. Let’s face it, quality of life as we get older means maintaining our independence…. and eye sight is key to this.
Coriander contains 11 components of oils considered essential for a healthy life, as well as 6 types of acids (including ascorbic acid or vitamin C), and numerous other minerals and vitamins…. all contributing their own health benefits to the pretty little green leaf with the distinguishable aroma.
Coriander does great things for skin disorders and inflammation of the skin. It has anti-allergic properties, meaning it can reduce seasonal allergies, or even assist with more dangerous allergic reactions such as hives, or that cause swelling of the throat and glands, and anaphylaxis.
It also contains a compound that is twice as effective as antibiotics, meaning it is a great way to reduce your risk of food poisoning/salmonella.
It also lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. It protects the liver….. AND is a rich source of calcium, for maintaining bone strength (another one of the keys to independence and quality of life as we move into the twilight years).
But back to the eyes….
Coriander prevents vision disorders, including macular degeneration (the disease of the retina that causes progressive loss of central vision, affecting the ability to see fine detail…. including the ability to drive, read, and recognise faces). It also reduces strain and stress on the eyes generally, as well as protects from conjunctivitis.
But the most amazing fact of all…. and the one that clinched it for me with regards to eating it every week, is that the beta-carotene in the leaves can even reverse the effects of vision degradation in aging people.
My grandmother had macular degeneration to a fairly extreme degree; in her late 80s and 90s she had her chair about a foot away from the television to watch it.
She pretty much played Russian roulette with the traffic every time she went across the road to the shops (but also having hereditary stubbornness meant she didn’t like to ask for assistance!)
I’m more than happy to find something I can add to my weekly eating that will give me a great chance of not suffering with loss of vision to that degree.
So, what can you make on a weekly basis to get your coriander fix?
A Thai inspired curry is a simple option…. start with cooking off some chopped onion and spices in a little olive oil (chillies and cayenne pepper are good), then add a tin of chopped tomatoes (or better still, pre-bake some tomatoes in the oven, then chop and add to the onion and spices). Then add either prawns, fish, or chicken (diced thigh fillet). Cook at a simmer for about 15 -20 minutes (or until chicken is cooked…. less time required for fish and prawns). Add a whole bunch of roughly chopped coriander to the curry with a minute of cooking to go. You can also add a swirl of coconut cream to this dish to make it, well, creamier.
A coleslaw of Chinese cabbage, carrot, coriander, celery, red onion and radish is a fresh dish to serve with a baked sweet potato and grilled salmon. Make a salad dressing with olive oil, lime juice and white wine vinegar, or a mayonnaise with added chilli and lime juice. A sprinkling of peanuts go well with this but not the best of the nuts from a health perspective, so I substitute with pistachio or pecans.
It never fails to delight me that the best ingredients for ongoing health and wellbeing are right there, in our supermarkets or growing in our gardens. There is no need to opt for an off the shelf product made from who-knows-what is there? Herbs have such a wide range of benefits, and so easily grown at our own homes, whether outdoors or in.
I don’t know about you, but I like to feel like I am getting ‘the good stuff’ in its natural state, eating it fresh right off my plate… and supplementing less.
I also love the notion of preventative maintenance, of doing the little things every day or week that are going to give me the best chance of a long, healthy and independent life…. So, don’t wait until your eye sight starts to deteriorate, and don’t fret about macular degeneration being something in your family history…. just do what you can do, and get some coriander on your plate 😊