Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cilantro, the Superhero of Garnishes

Ever wondered how much mercury you have in your body?  This is not a standard test one receives at their annual checkup, but with all we know about heavy metal toxicity... what's a girl to do?  Mercury in our food and environment is a major topic of concern and really any accumulation in the body is detrimental to health.  Here is the best synopsis of the dangers of Mercury-toxicity that I found in my research.

Common Heavy Metals: Effects and Sources:  Mercury
Any amount of mercury exposure results in beginning degeneration of the brain (cognitive and memory impairment, irritability, insomnia), peripheral numbness and weakness, compromised vision and hearing, immune suppression, gastrointestinal dysfunction, birth defects, hypothyroidism, and asthma. Ultimately, the initial degeneration of nerve tissues can result in neurodegenerative diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis.    Sources of exposure: Amalgam dental fillings (50% mercury) are the biggest offender. Other sources include vaccines, contaminated fish (especially tuna and swordfish), some laxatives, many inks for printers and tattoos, many types of cosmetics including nail polish, solvents and drugs, and much of our public water supply.

Yikes, so basically we are all carrying around some mercury in who-knows-what levels.  I, for one, had half a dozen mercury fillings as a kid (which I had removed at age 25 and replaced with porcelain ones), ate tuna melts more regularly than I care to admit, have shuffled many a printed paper, drank my fair share of municipal water... and wouldn't be caught dead without painted toes... in other words, I've lived a pretty typical life.  The incredible thing is apparently we don't have to live with it forever, or pay for expensive kits that claim to reduce levels.  All we have to do is eat cilantro.

In doses of just two tablespoons per day, cilantro is supposedly able to help remove mercury from the body by acting as a chelating agent for the harmful substance.  (pronounced "key-late-ing") It binds with the mercury and mobilizes it from it's hiding place, then escorts it out of the body.  Some sites say its most effective lightly cooked (note: not cooked to the bejeezus) so I've tried it as a tea.  In the summer, I make jars of iced tea in various wondeful flavors, so today I added a bunch of cilantro stems to one quart jar plus two tea bags of Yogi Seven-Berry Antioxidant tea.  Very nice indeed.

Others suggest making it into a pesto, to spread or shmear on anything.  Here's a recipe I like. cilantro pesto  I think I got at least a tablespoon onto this amazing sandwich...
And another tablespoon in this incredible summer salad made with corn, tomato, yellow beets, carmelized onion, goat feta, navy beans, and of course - cilantro.  This salad keeps in the fridge for a couple of days, so make lots and have often.

The moral of this story is Cilantro is a total Superhero!  Toss it in things, with things, on things... just make sure to eat it - what an enjoyable and delicious positive step on the path to better health.  Bon ap!

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