Food Stock Photos

Italian parsley

In the supermarket, Curley Parsley, Italian Parsley (flat leaf parsley) and Cilantro generally sit right beside each other.  I’ve heard people say they have confused one for the other. I suppose when it comes to Italian parsley and cilantro that could be possible They both have flat leaves, though cilantro leaves are somewhat larger and rounded where Italian parsley leaves are pointed.

This can be taken even a step further and add a confusion between cilantro and coriander leaves.  They are actually the same plant but cilantro refers to the leaves and coriander to the seeds.  However some recipes say to use coriander leaves.  You’ll have a hard time finding them.  They mean use cilantro.

Difference in How Curly Parsley, Italian Parsley and Cilantro Taste

Fresh Cilantro

Truthfully, there is more similarity in look between the herbs than in the taste.  And I don’t consider them interchangeable.  Cilantro has a strong flavor and it tends to be used in Mexican and Indian dishes. 

Italian or flat parsley (pictured at the top of this post) is more subtle than cilantro, but with a stronger flavor than curly parsley.  It’s used as an ingredient in dishes that don’t have a strong flavor.  It’s also used in Mediterranean dishes frequently.  Some chefs regard it as similar to basil or oregano, though I don’t find much similarly in the taste. 

Curly parsley is almost flavorless.  If you left it out of the recipe, probably no one would notice unless you were having Gordon Ramsay to dinner.  It’s use is primarily as a garnish and the curly leaves lend themselves well to looking attractive on a plate.


Health Benefits of Cilantro and Parsley

Regardless of the flavor impact, all three of these herbs add to the nutritional value of the meal they are incorporated into.  They are good sources of vitamin A,C and folate.  They support eye, bone and heart health.  Thy are also high in vitamin K, a vitamin I’ve been hearing more and more about in terms of how necessary it is for good health.  Both are also known to help control blood sugar levels, though for different reasons.  Parsley contains a flavonoid called myricetin that’s been shown to lower blood sugar levels.  Cilantro contains enzymes that help process the sugars in our bloodstream.

Cilantro is known to be detoxifying and can help cleanse heavy metals out of the body.  It also contains a flavonoid called quercetin that fights inflammation and has been said to help prevent cancer.

The message here is don’t omit them from your recipes.  They add to the taste and impart additional health benefits.

More photos after the break…

Curly parsley garnishing a raw steak.