Herbs have been a typical part of our diet as they bring more flavor and aroma to our everyday meals. Cilantro is one of the herbs commonly used as a culinary spice and it may be something that you used to enjoy eating with your favorite salad or pasta. But now that you’re pregnant you might wonder, is cilantro safe during pregnancy?
Cilantro refers to the leaves of a plant called coriander, which belongs to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s GRAS or generally recognized as safe category. This means that any part of this plant and its extracts are generally safe for human consumption. The primary issues with eating cilantro while pregnant are whether these aromatic leaves has properties that can cause miscarriage or if the leaves can cause illnesses if eaten raw.
We’ve investigated if there is some truth behind cilantro miscarriage issues along with the safety concerns when it would be eaten raw by pregnant women. Here’s what we’ve found.
Does cilantro cause miscarriage?
A simple herb used to garnish your favorite meal causing miscarriage can be a bit scary. But first, let’s get to know more where this issue is coming from.
Cilantro is a renowned culinary ingredient, but aside from that, experts have been exploring its role in human health. Studies have been on-going about cilantro’s antioxidant, anti-cholesterol and anti-diabetic properties, but what concerns pregnant women is the antiplatelet or anti-coagulant properties being associated with the herb.
Just a quick overview, platelets are the tiny cells in our blood that helps it clot or coagulate. If a food or substance has anti-platelet properties, it means that it may decrease or slow down the ability of platelets to stop the bleeding.
Interestingly, a study described the antiplatelet properties of cilantro or coriander leaf extracts, concluding that it may have platelet-inhibiting effects to the body when combined with other chemicals called agonists.
So this might be one reason why pregnant women fear that cilantro might be among the foods that can cause miscarriage. As we might already know, pregnant women need to be more careful of foods or substances that will make them more at risk of bleeding.
Though that’s the case, there is no current evidence to prove that cilantro can directly cause miscarriage or that cilantro is unsafe to consume while pregnant.
Moreover, the focus of the study that was mentioned earlier was how the intake of cilantro and curry leaves extracts can help reduce the risk of thrombosis. Thrombosis is a condition that refers to the abnormal sticking of platelets that can clog the blood vessels.
Therefore, this study may be a basis to figure out whether a regular intake of these herbs can help prevent development of this condition, which may also benefit pregnant women who are at a greater risk of developing thrombosis in the near future.
Can you eat raw cilantro while pregnant?
Just like other herbs, raw cilantro is being used to garnish several food preparations, adding up color and unique taste to the dish. However, if you’ve heard that pregnant women need to be careful in eating raw foods, you might also have this question in mind- “Are raw herbs and spices to avoid during pregnancy and is cilantro one of them?”
According to the U.S. FDA, fresh herbs like cilantro are typically consumed without a “kill step” process like cooking. However, since these herbs grow low on the ground, they are vulnerable to contamination of bacteria and parasites found in soil and irrigation water. In fact, the FDA reported 3 disease outbreaks linked to the consumption of fresh cilantro since 1996 to 2015.
Among the most common microorganisms lurking in fresh herbs like cilantro are Cyclospora cayetanensis, E.Coli and Shigella sonnei. These microorganisms are known to cause food-borne illnesses in humans.
For instance, Cyclospora cayetanensis is a human parasite that inhabits in the intestinal tract and causes a food-borne illness called cyclosporiasis. This parasite is often found in soil and water that is contaminated by the feces of infected individuals. Once infected, the person may experience symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, fever, stomach cramps, and flu-like symptoms.
Food-borne illnesses may be worse for pregnant women. Due to the lowered immune system response brought about by pregnancy, the moms-to-be may experience more severe or prolonged symptoms, and some may lead to premature birth and miscarriage.
So while there is no current recommendation against eating raw cilantro while pregnant, it may be best for pregnant women to take extra precautions in washing and preparing fresh produce prior to consumption.
Additionally, stay updated with FDA and CDC advisories regarding outbreaks of foodborne illnesses in your area. If you hear some issues about the consumption of cilantro and other fresh herbs, then it might be better on your part to avoid eating them raw for a while.
Based on these current facts, cilantro may typically be safe to consume during pregnancy, provided that it is thoroughly cleaned and prepared with food safety practices in mind. Just make sure not to overly consume cilantro while pregnant because just like any other herb, it may produce unpleasant side effects when eaten in large amounts.
The best way to find out if cilantro is safe for you is by mentioning it to your doctor. Since every woman has their unique response to food and herbs, it would help a lot to seek your doctor’s guidance in terms of your nutrition during pregnancy.