What Is Culantro? Uses, Origins and Health Benefits

What Is Culantro, and How to Use It

Culantro, scientifically known as Eryngium foetidum is a biennial herb (lasts for two years) grown basically in Tropical America and West Indies. However, it is widely used in the Caribbean, Asian and American dishes. Culantro belongs to family Apiaceae and is well known for its use as a spice and medicinal herb.

Culantro is an herb that has a similar aroma and flavor to cilantro, but they are not the same plant. It has long, serrated leaves and looks a bit like long-leafed lettuce. Culantro has a stronger flavor than cilantro and is therefore used in smaller amounts. Unlike cilantro, it can be added during cooking rather than afterward. You will find culantro specified in recipes for dishes from the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and Asia.

Chandon Beni (Culantro) - Nó là gì và cách sử dụng

Culantro (Eryngium foetidum) grows similar to lettuce, with leaves around a central rosette. At the peak of its growth, a culantro plant can be 1 foot tall and the leaves as much as 2 inches wide, and it will produce a blue flower if permitted to bolt. Culantro is a member Apiaceae family, which includes carrots, celery, parsley, and parsnip. Culantro is used as both a culinary and medicinal herb. In food, the leaves are often added during cooking because it has a very strong flavor and aroma, which diminishes nicely under heat.

How to grow Culantro - YouTube

Origins

Culantro is native to the tropical areas of the Americas and the West Indies, unlike cilantro that originated in the Mediterranean and was introduced to the Americas after European colonization. Culantro goes by various names. You might hear it called spiny cilantro, long-leafed coriander, or saw-toothed mint. In Spanish, it is sometimes called cilantro de hoja ancha, meaning "broadleaf cilantro." In Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, the name recao is also common, and in some parts of the Caribbean, it is known as chandon beni. Depending on the country you're in, culantro may go by other names as well.

Culantro vs. Cilantro

Culantro vs Cilantro – they are not the same - Esencias Panamenas, LLC

Culantro is a botanical cousin of cilantro, but they look nothing alike. Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is sometimes called Chinese parsley or Mexican parsley, and its seeds (coriander) are sometimes called Mexican coriander. While culantro has long leaves that grow in rosettes, cilantro has thin scallop-shaped leaves that grow on the tips of long, very thin stems. Additionally, cilantro is an annual plant, not a biennial like culantro.

What Is Culantro? Health Benefits, Side Effects And Recipes - Boldsky.com

What Does It Taste Like?

Culantro has a pungent odor and bitter, soapy flavor similar to cilantro, but stronger. Many references say the odor is like crushed stinkbugs (skunky or burnt rubber) or crushed bedbugs (sweet, musty, and cilantro-like). With a description like that, it is apparent that this is a flavor that some love and some hate. A pungent element that would be distasteful on its own can add an extra dimension to the flavor of dishes.

Health benefits of Culantro

Health Benefits Of Culantro

Listed below are few of the popular benefits of consuming Culantro

1. Eliminate Bad Breath

On a general note, Veggies like parsley have been known to act as a remedy for bad breath. Since parsley and culantro belong to the same family of Apiaceae, Culantro can also be said to solve issues regarding bad breath. The fresh scent from shado Beni and high chlorophyll content suggest that it has some deodorizing effect. To use Culantro for bad breath, chew on fresh leaves after each course meal to eliminate the effect of Sulphur compounds which are the actual causes of bad breath.

7 Steps For Getting Rid Of Bad Breath | Delta Dental

2. Lowers Glucose

It has been revealed from research that leaves and stems from Culantro help lower blood sugar levels in animals. It can lower body Glucose because of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) present as a nutritional supplement. Riboflavin encourages a healthy Liver function which can release insulin hormone more effectively. Since a healthy liver is equal to a balanced body sugar level, it is only relevant to take a dietary supplement of shado beni with a meal. You can chop Culantro’s leaves coarsely, grind stems finely and then add this to salads, salsas, and smoothies to lower your sugar and reduce diabetic risk.

10 Tips to Lower Blood Sugar Naturally | Everyday Health

3. Asthma

Asthma is a common disease related with lungs. It intensely affects people living in industrialized areas where there is a prevalence of heavy metals, dust, and toxic gas emissions. However, recent researchers have found that plants are excellent sources of medicine that can help cure asthmatic conditions and Culantro is one of such herbal plants.

Is There an Effective Cure for Allergic Asthma? | Chacko Allergy

4. Pain Relief

Culantro is generally known to reduce inflammations around the body parts such as bone joints, muscle contractions and a host of other body pains. To efficiently use culantro as a pain reliever; cut out the leaves and boil them, apply the hot culantro water on your body parts or drink it.

Chronic Pain Relief Deerfield Beach, FL - Preferred PT Associates

5. Prevents Neurological inflammation

Regular dosage of Culantro on one’s diet helps retracts diseases associated with the brain. Neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s can be prevented as a result of its natural constituents that can reduce inflammations in the brain cells.

For Alzheimer's Sufferers, Brain Inflammation Ignites a Neuron-Killing  "Forest Fire" - Scientific American

6. Detoxification

Regular intake of Culantro helps reduce the occurrence of toxins in the human body mainly due to the presence of vitamin B2 that aids liver function in the body. The liver performs the function of eliminating some toxic wastes from the body system

What is Detoxification – How it is important for good health

The leaves are the desired part of the culantro plant for cooking. Culantro makes an excellent addition to a variety of recipes. You can cook it into almost any dish that you would otherwise finish with cilantro, though using less culantro than cilantro is recommended when substituting. It's interesting to note that in some recipes for Vietnamese beef noodle soup (pho), the roles of cilantro and culantro are reversed, with cilantro cooked while culantro (ngo gai in Vietnamese) is reserved for the garnish.

Quick Guide to Vietnamese Herbs - RunAwayRice

Hanoi Versus Saigon Phở: A Debate Without Verdict | Vietcetera

Where to Buy Culantro

Culantro is not as widely available as cilantro, particularly outside the Caribbean and Latin America. You'll have better luck finding it at international markets. Check with your market's produce manager if you do not see any on the shelves with other fresh herbs.

Culantro is a rather easy herb to grow, so you might consider that option as well. Seeds are readily available and if you want to collect your own, let the flowers go to seed at the end of the second year (remember, it's a biennial). Plant those seeds and, if you're lucky, you can keep propagating culantro for years using this routine. Buy culantro seeds in our store now and plan yours now!

 

Storage

Fresh culantro can be wrapped in paper towels and refrigerated in plastic bags or air-tight containers. Rinse and pat dry the leaves before cooking. You can expect culantro to be good for about a week when stored properly.

Culantro Seed | Rebecca McMahon | Flickr


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