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H 2Page 1 copyIf Pakistan were to have a national herb, it is likely to be coriander (dhania). After all, coriander is used in Pakistani cuisine in many forms. The leaves are used to garnish countless dishes, be they daal, haleem, nihari or paya.  Dried dhania powder is used as a spice, and is an important component of garam masala. Furthermore, coriander is used generously to make chutneys which serve as a dip for an assortment of savoury items, such as samosas and pakoras.

This green herb has a host of health benefits:

High mineral content. Coriander stems and leaves contain several minerals; iron to increase the production of red blood cells, calcium to ensure bone re-growth and stength, potassium to control the heart rate and blood pressure fluctuations, and manganese-activated enzymes to ensure optimal metabolism as well as the absorption of amino acids, carbohydrates and vitamins in the body.

Rich in vitamins. Coriander leaves are a good source of vitamins; a coriander-rich diet is believed to prevent vision-related disorders and muscular degeneration because the Vitamin A present boosts vision, while toxins are flushed from the liver thanks to Vitamin C. The presence of Vitamin K relieves symptoms of joint disease and promotes healthy bone mass production.

Contains health-inducing acids. Known as an anti-diabetic herb due to its high linoleic acid content, the daily intake of coriander regulates insulin production that controls blood sugar levels. Coriander chutney is recommended to cardiac patients, since it has high levels of ascorbic acid, which reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) levels.

Antiseptic, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.  Coriander oil (derived from the seeds and leaves) has antiseptic, anti-bacterial and  anti-fungal properties that are effective in maintaining a healthy digestive system because they increase the secretion of digestive enzymes. Coriander oil is effective in treating mouth ulcers, boils, seasonal allergies and skin disorders.

– Saba Gul Hasan
The writer is a dietician.

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 23, 2014.