Parsley vs Coriander - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
Herbs add delicate flavours to any dish they are added to, making them more fragrant and rich. But what attributes, other than taste, set different herbs apart. Today, 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 Apiaceae or Umbelliferae family. 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 leaves have more rounded borders, while parsley leaves have sharper edges. Parsley leaves also tend to be larger and a darker green colour.
Taste and Use
People often use parsley and coriander interchangeably, confused by their similar appearances. However, the two have distinctly different flavours.
Coriander adds a robust, citrus-like and slightly tart flavour to any meal it is added to. Coriander leaves have a stronger taste when raw and tend to lose some of that flavour when cooked.
Parsley has a much milder, slightly peppery taste. Due to this, parsley is more versatile in the kitchen.
The two herbs can also be distinguished by their scents. Similar to their tastes, coriander leaves give off a strong, herbal and slightly sour scent, 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 or as a dried herb. Flat leaf parsley is said to have a stronger taste and is often used in soups, salads and sauces. Root parsley is mostly used for its tuberous root that can be 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.
Macronutrients and Calories
Like most herbs, coriander and parsley are not very dense in nutrients. At the same time, parsley is more dense, 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
Being more nutritionally dense, parsley is richer in both protein and fats.
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 type found in both of these herbs are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Parsley contains almost two times more carbohydrates compared to coriander. The two herbs contain similar amounts of sugars, however, parsley is richer in dietary fiber.
Herbs such as parsley and coriander are a wonderful source of dietary 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.
Coriander, on the other hand, has over 3 times more vitamin E, as well as more vitamins B2, B5 and B6.
Both coriander and parsley completely lack vitamin D and vitamin B12.
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.
Coriander and parsley contain similar levels of potassium and choline.
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 (2).
The average pH value of parsley falls in the range of 5.7 to 6, making this herb acidic (3). At the same time, fresh coriander has a slightly more acidic pH value of 5.18±00.4 (4).
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 little energy.
Both of these herbs fit well in low calorie, low fats and low carbs 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 (5).
Parsley has been studied to have a protective effect against hyperlipidemia, preventing the development of obesity (6).
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 fibres (7).
Coriander also has anti-inflammatory and anti-dyslipidemic abilities, decreasing total cholesterol levels and reducing low density lipoprotein oxidation (8).
Parsley has protective effects against hyperlipidemia and can improve pathological tissue alterations in the heart and liver (6).
Parsley has also been researched to possess hypotensive, anti-platelet, cytoprotective, antibacterial, anti-fungal and various other qualities (9).
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 (10).
Parsley has also exhibited beneficial anti-diabetic qualities. Animal studies have found that rats treated with parsley had significantly lower blood glucose and liver damage marker levels (11).
Parsley can be used as a traditional antidiabetic and antioxidant remedy in type 1 diabetes mellitus patients due to its ability to lower plasma glucose and increase plasma insulin levels (12).
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 (13). Coriander seeds have been researched to potentially inhibit the growth of gastric, colon, prostate, breast and lung carcinomas (14).
Apigenin, a flavone abundantly found in parsley, has been researched as a promising reagent for cancer therapy (15).
Coriander leaves have been researched to alleviate anxiety in a dose-dependent manner, enhance mood and improve cognitive functions (16). Some of these qualities may be owing to a compound found in coriander called linalool.
Apigenin found in parsley also improves the functional differentiation of neurons, strengthening the connections between brain cells (15).
Research has suggested that parsley exhibits anti-anxiety and antidepressant activities, surprisingly better than some classic medications (17).
Parsley and coriander have distinctly different flavours. Parsley is more nutritionally dense than 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.
- pH values of foods and food products
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
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|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet||Equal|
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All nutrients comparison - raw data values