Coriander vs. Parsley — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Parsley and coriander have distinctly different flavors. Parsley is nutritionally denser compared to coriander, being richer in protein, fats, dietary fiber, most vitamins, and minerals.
Parsley provides 5 times more vitamin C and vitamin K and 2 times more folate, while coriander contains 3 times more vitamin E.
Table of contents
Herbs add delicate flavors to any dish they are added to, making them more fragrant and rich. But what attributes, other than taste, set different herbs apart?
In this article, we will be comparing two of these herbs — coriander and parsley — to see what nutrients they provide us with and how it affects our health.
Coriander and parsley botanically share the same family. Coriander or Coriandrum sativum belongs to the Coriandrum genus, while garden parsley is scientifically called Petroselinum crispum, belonging to the Petroselinum genus. Both of these greens belong to the family Apiaceae or Umbelliferae. This family is also known as the parsley, carrot, or celery family.
Coriander is the international name for the dried seeds of the coriander plant, while cilantro is often referred to as the plant’s stem and leaves. Coriander is also known as Chinese parsley or dhania.
Coriander and parsley leaves are hard to differentiate from each other at first glance. However, coriander or cilantro leaves have more rounded borders, while parsley leaves have sharper edges. Parsley leaves also tend to be larger and have a darker green color.
Taste, Smell, and Use
People often use parsley and coriander interchangeably, confused by their similar appearances. However, the two have distinctly different flavors.
Coriander adds a robust, citrus-like, slightly tart flavor to any meal. Coriander leaves have a more pungent taste when raw and tend to lose some of that flavor when cooked. This plant is often used in Mexican and Latin American cuisines.
Parsley has a much milder, slightly peppery taste. Due to this, parsley is more versatile in the kitchen. It is frequently used in American, European, Middle Eastern, and Brazilian cuisines.
The two herbs can also be distinguished by their scents. Like their tastes, coriander leaves give off a strong, herbal, and slightly sour aroma, while parsley leaves have a milder smell.
Different varieties of parsley are divided into three major groups: curly-leaf or common parsley, flat-leaf or Italian parsley, and turnip-rooted or Hamburg parsley. Curly-leaf parsley is the most common variety used for garnish for stew or as a dried herb. Flat-leaf parsley is said to have a stronger taste and is often used in soups, salads, and sauces. The tuberous root of root parsley is mostly used in the kitchen as a vegetable.
The two main varieties of the coriander plant are distinguished by the sizes of their fruits. The fruit diameter of the vulgare variety is 3 to 5mm, while the microcarpum variety has smaller fruits with diameters of 1.5 to 3mm (1).
The nutritional values below are presented for fresh parsley and raw coriander leaves. We will be comparing nutrient contents for 100g servings of these foods.
Macronutrients and Calories
Like most herbs, coriander and parsley are not very dense in nutrients. At the same time, parsley is denser, containing 88% water, while coriander consists of 92% water.
The average serving size of coriander is considered to be a quarter of a cup of chopped coriander, equal to 4g.
Parsley leaves have a similar average serving size of one tablespoon, equal to 3.8g of parsley.
While both herbs are naturally very low in calories, parsley has a higher caloric content. A 100g serving of parsley provides 36 calories, whereas the same serving size of coriander contains 23 calories.
Protein and Fats
Parsley is richer in both protein and fats, being denser in nutrients.
Both of these herbs contain low levels of all essential amino acids.
While parsley and coriander contain a low amount of fats, the predominant fat types found in both of these herbs are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Fat Type Comparison
Parsley contains almost two times more carbohydrates compared to coriander. The two herbs contain similar amounts of sugar. However, parsley is richer in dietary fiber.
Herbs such as parsley and coriander are excellent sources of dietary fiber. Parsley is 0.5g higher in fiber than coriander. Parsley is particularly rich in soluble fiber called inulin (2). Coriander seeds are high in insoluble fiber.
Coriander and parsley can both provide numerous vital vitamins; however, parsley provides a higher level of a few more vitamins.
Parsley contains almost 5 times more vitamin C and vitamin K, over 2 times more folate, and 1.2 times more vitamin A. A 100g serving of parsley provides the needed daily values of all of these vitamins. Parsley is also richer in vitamin B1 and vitamin B3.
On the other hand, coriander provides over 3 times more vitamin E and more vitamins B2, B5, and B6.
Between these two herbs, parsley is richer in most minerals. A 100g serving of parsley provides more calcium and iron than the same serving size of milk and beef.
Parsley contains higher levels of iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus.
At the same time, coriander is richer in copper, manganese, and selenium. Coriander is also lower in sodium.
The sugar content found in both coriander and parsley is too low to measure an exact glycemic index value. However, the glycemic index values of both of these herbs are considered to be very low.
Coriander seeds have also demonstrated glycemic index reducing abilities, decreasing the glycemic index of plain glucose from 97 down to 88 (3).
The average pH value of parsley falls in the range of 5.7 to 6, making this herb acidic (4). At the same time, fresh coriander has a slightly more acidic pH value of 5.18±0.4 (5).
Another way of viewing the acidity of foods is the potential renal acid load. The PRAL value of the food demonstrates how much acid or base the given food produces when broken down inside the body.
The PRAL values of coriander and parsley are -9.7 and -11.1, respectively. This indicates that parsley is more alkaline-forming compared to coriander.
Weight Loss & Diets
Herbs are famously well suited for weight loss diets, as they provide beneficial nutrients but few calories.
Both of these herbs fit well in low-calorie, low-fat, and low-carb diets. However, between these two herbs, coriander is the relatively better option for these diets.
Various herbs, and coriander, in particular, have been studied for their potential to ameliorate obesity and its associated risk factors by reducing body mass index (6).
Parsley has been studied to have a protective effect against hyperlipidemia, preventing the development of obesity (7).
Coriander and parsley are also great sources of vitamins and minerals on keto, Atkins, Mediterranean, and Paleo diets.
We’ve all heard about how herbs can do miracles for our health. In this section, we will examine those miracles from a scientific point of view.
Due to its strong antioxidant qualities, the extract of coriander leaves has the potential to prevent myocardial infarction by inhibiting damage to heart muscle fibers (8).
Coriander also has anti-inflammatory and anti-dyslipidemic abilities, decreasing total cholesterol levels and reducing low-density lipoprotein oxidation (9).
Parsley has protective effects against hyperlipidemia and can improve pathological tissue alterations in the heart and liver (7).
Parsley has also been researched to possess hypotensive, anti-platelet, cytoprotective, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and various other qualities (10).
Coriander has been used to treat diabetes in traditional medicine. Here, science supports traditional medicine, as research has demonstrated coriander to have antihyperglycemic, insulin-releasing, and insulin-like activities (11).
Parsley has also exhibited beneficial anti-diabetic qualities. Animal studies have found that rats treated with parsley had significantly lower blood sugar and liver damage marker levels (12).
Parsley can be used as a traditional anti-diabetic and antioxidant remedy in type 1 diabetes mellitus patients due to its ability to lower plasma glucose and increase plasma insulin levels (13).
Due to significant antioxidant qualities, parsley and coriander possess potential anticancer activities.
The coriander herb has been shown to possibly protect against DNA damage and cancer cell migration (14). Coriander seeds have been researched to inhibit the growth of gastric, colon, prostate, breast, and lung carcinomas (15).
Apigenin, a flavone abundantly found in parsley, has been researched as a promising reagent for cancer therapy (16).
Coriander leaves have been researched to alleviate anxiety in a dose-dependent manner, enhance mood and improve cognitive functions (17). Some of these qualities may be owing to a compound found in coriander called linalool.
Coriander extract contains a lot of antioxidants showing anti-inflammatory effects on the nervous system and preventing degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis (19).
Apigenin found in parsley also improves the functional differentiation of neurons, strengthening the connections between brain cells (16).
Research has suggested that parsley exhibits anti-anxiety and antidepressant activities, surprisingly better than some classic medications (18).
- pH values of foods and food products
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Lower in Glycemic Index||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||337µg||421µg|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet||Equal|
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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.
- Coriander - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169997/nutrients
- Parsley - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170416/nutrients
All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.