Is cilantro good for you in smoothies?

Cilantro, also known as coriander, is a popular herb used in many cuisines around the world. In recent years, cilantro has also gained popularity as an ingredient in smoothies and other blended drinks. But is adding cilantro to your smoothie actually good for you? Here’s a comprehensive look at the potential benefits and downsides of using cilantro in smoothies.

Potential Benefits of Cilantro in Smoothies

Cilantro contains a unique blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that offer some potential health benefits when consumed. Here are some of the top reasons you may want to consider adding cilantro to your smoothies:

Nutrient Profile

Cilantro is an excellent source of vitamin K, providing over 100% of the recommended daily value in just a few sprigs. It’s also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, potassium, and manganese (1). Adding cilantro to smoothies can help boost your intake of these important micronutrients.


Cilantro contains several types of antioxidants, including quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and apigenin (2). These compounds help neutralize free radicals and may help fight oxidative damage caused by things like pollution, smoking, and sun exposure. Blending cilantro into smoothies provides a concentrated dose of these protective antioxidants.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Some of the antioxidants in cilantro, particularly quercetin, have demonstrated potent anti-inflammatory activities in research studies (3). Chronic inflammation is linked to many modern diseases, so consuming anti-inflammatory foods like cilantro may help reduce inflammation-related health risks.

Detoxification Support

Cilantro may support the body’s natural detoxification processes thanks to antioxidants and compounds called polyphenols (4). Animal studies have found cilantro may help prevent toxic metal accumulation and protect organs like the liver (5). More research is still needed, but adding cilantro to smoothies could potentially aid your body’s natural ability to remove toxins.

Blood Sugar Regulation

Some small studies have found that consuming cilantro may help lower blood sugar spikes after meals (6). This effect could be due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Managing blood sugar levels is important for diabetes prevention and management, so cilantro may provide benefits in this regard.

Heart Health

The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds in cilantro may help reduce several heart disease risk factors, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and damage from oxidative stress and inflammation (7). More human research is still needed, but the potential is promising.

Digestive Support

Traditionally, cilantro has been used to help stimulate digestion and relieve bloating and gas. The antioxidants in cilantro may specifically help inhibit growth of certain types of bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses (8). More studies are needed, but adding cilantro to smoothies could provide digestive benefits.

Potential Downsides of Cilantro in Smoothies

While cilantro offers some nutritional and health benefits, there are also a few potential downsides to consider:

Taste and Flavor

One of the biggest complaints about adding cilantro to smoothies is its divisive taste and flavor. Many people liken cilantro to tasting “soapy” or metallic due to genetics. Adding too much to a smoothie can make it unpalatable for cilantro-averse people. Starting with small amounts and adjusting to taste preferences is recommended.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Cilantro allergies are rare, but some people may experience oral allergy syndrome after eating it raw. Symptoms include itching or burning sensations in the mouth and throat (9). People with birch pollen allergies are more at risk. Those with an oral allergy to cilantro should avoid it in smoothies.

Pesticide Exposure

Like other fresh produce, cilantro may contain pesticide residues if not grown organically. Washing cilantro before use can help reduce pesticide levels. Opting for organic cilantro when possible is ideal, especially for regular smoothie use.

Foodborne Illness Risk

Rarely, cilantro contaminated with pathogens like Salmonella or E. coli can cause foodborne illness (10). Properly washing cilantro before use reduces this risk. People with compromised immune systems may still want to avoid raw cilantro in smoothies to be safe.

Medication Interactions

Cilantro contains vitamin K, which can interfere with blood-thinning medications like warfarin if consumed in large amounts (11). Anyone on blood thinners should consult their doctor before regularly consuming cilantro in smoothies.

How Much Cilantro to Use in Smoothies

When adding cilantro to your smoothies, moderation is key to avoid overpowering other ingredients while still getting benefits:

– Start with 2-4 cilantro sprigs (about 1⁄4 cup chopped cilantro) per 2-3 servings of smoothie. Adjust up or down as desired.

– Use less cilantro (under 1⁄4 cup) if pairing with very tart, sweet, or mild flavors that can be overpowered.

– Use more cilantro (up to 1⁄2 cup) in smoothies with stronger flavored ingredients like berries or pineapple.

– Balancing fresh cilantro with mint helps mellow the flavor. A ratio of 2 parts cilantro to 1 part mint works well.

– Remove thick cilantro stems before adding leaves to smoothies to reduce strong flavor.

Cilantro Smoothie Recipes

Here are some delicious and nutritious cilantro smoothie recipes to try:

Tropical Cilantro Smoothie

– 1 cup pineapple chunks
– 1 banana
– 1 cup coconut water
– Juice of 1 lime
– 1⁄4 cup cilantro
– 2-4 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. The pineapple, banana, and lime provide sweetness and balance out the cilantro.

Berry Cleansing Smoothie

– 1 cup mixed berries
– 1⁄4 cup cilantro
– 1⁄4 avocado
– 2 cups baby spinach
– 1 cup almond milk
– 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
– 1 tbsp hemp seeds
– 2 dates or honey to taste (optional)

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Berries provide antioxidants and the spinach gives extra nutrients. Healthy fats from the avocado help absorb the fat-soluble vitamins.

Green Detox Smoothie

– 1 cup kale leaves
– 1⁄4 cup cilantro
– 1⁄2 apple, cored and chopped
– 1⁄2 banana
– 1⁄2 cup Greek yogurt
– 1⁄2 cup ice
– 1 tsp lemon juice
– 1 tsp honey (optional)

Blend ingredients until creamy and smooth. The apple, banana, and honey provide natural sweetness that balances the green flavors.

Tips for Using Cilantro in Smoothies

Here are some tips for successfully adding fresh cilantro to your smoothies:

– Always wash cilantro thoroughly to remove dirt and debris before use in smoothies.

– Use cilantro sprigs quickly after purchase or storage. Wilted cilantro can introduce off flavors.

– Remove thick stems from cilantro before adding to smoothies as they are tough and bitter.

– Start with small amounts of cilantro when trying a new recipe and adjust as needed.

– Balance strong cilantro flavor by blending with sweeter fruits, mint, lime juice, or ginger.

– Pair cilantro with tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, and coconut that complement its flavor.

– Choose ripe, sweet fruits like bananas and pineapple to mask bitterness from cilantro.

– Add healthy fats from avocado, nut butters, or coconut milk to help mellow cilantro’s sharp edge.

– Use cilantro sparingly in green smoothies packed with vegetables, which already provide bold flavors.

Storing Cilantro for Smoothies

To have cilantro ready when a smoothie craving strikes, follow these storage tips:

– Rinse cilantro and dry thoroughly with a salad spinner or paper towels before storing.

– Wrap cilantro loosely in paper towels and place in an airtight container or plastic bag.

– Store cilantro in the refrigerator crisper drawer, which provides cold and humid conditions it prefers.

– Adding a damp paper towel to the container can provide extra moisture and help cilantro last longer.

– Fresh cilantro will stay usable for 5-7 days when properly stored.

– For longer storage, cilantro can be frozen up to 6 months. Wash first, then chop cilantro and place in ice cube trays with a bit of water before freezing. Transfer frozen cilantro cubes to an airtight freezer bag.

– Dried cilantro can be stored up to 6 months in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Use about half the amount of fresh cilantro when substituting dried.

Cilantro Smoothie FAQs

Get answers to some common questions about making smoothies with cilantro:

Why does cilantro taste soapy to some people?

This is caused by a genetic variant that makes some people strongly detect aldehyde chemicals in cilantro, resulting in a soapy flavor. However, others with different genetics perceive cilantro as a pleasant, citrusy taste instead.

Do you remove cilantro stems for smoothies?

Yes, the stems are often tough and bitter, so removing them before adding cilantro to smoothies provides better texture and flavor. The tender leaves are what you really want.

What does cilantro do for smoothies?

Cilantro provides an earthy, aromatic flavor as well as nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin C, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds. It pairs well with fruit flavors in smoothies.

Can you replace cilantro with parsley in smoothies?

Yes, Italian parsley can make a good substitute in smoothies when you’re out of cilantro. Use the same amount swapped 1:1 for cilantro. The mineral and vitamin profile is similar.

Do you need to chop cilantro for smoothies?

You can add torn cilantro leaves directly to smoothies without chopping. But giving it a rough chop helps distribute the flavor evenly and gives your blender an easier time pureeing any fibrous stems you include.

What smoothie ingredients pair well with cilantro?

Cilantro pairs nicely with pineapple, mango, berries, citrus fruits, coconut, avocado, cucumber, leafy greens, ginger, and mint in smoothies. Sweet fruits help offset cilantro’s bold flavor.

The Bottom Line

Loaded with nutrients like vitamin K, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds, adding fresh cilantro to your smoothies can provide some impressive health benefits. Just be mindful of any food allergies or medication interactions. Start with small amounts and balance cilantro’s bold flavor with sweeter ingredients like pineapple and banana. With the right smoothie recipes, cilantro can be a nutritious and tasty addition.

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