Thursday, September 1, 2011

Oil from Coriander Shown to Fight Bacteria

It's widely known that people in tropical climes (before widespread refrigeration) used spices to obfuscate the malodorous smells of a-little-too-old foods. And according to a recent New York Times article ("A Bacteria-Busting Oil Behind a Popular Spice"), there's an added benefit to at least one of the spices:
"Coriander (cilantro, when the leaves of the plant are used fresh) is a popular spice widely used in Asian, Latin American and Mediterranean cooking.

"Now, researchers from the University of Beira Interior in Portugal report that oil extracted from coriander seeds can kill bacteria related to food-borne diseases, like E. coli.

"Coriander oil has been used for centuries as a folk remedy for a number of ailments. Researchers have also previously found that the oil may ease cramps, aid in digestion, soothe fungal infections and reduce nausea.

"Although it was previously suggested that the oil can act as an antibacterial agent, this study is the first to decipher exactly how it does.

"The researchers found that coriander oil is able to damage the membrane of bacterial cells. This blocks the cell from essential processes, like respiration, and ultimately leads to the bacterium’s demise, the researchers report.

"They tested the effect of coriander oil on 12 bacterial strains, including E. coli, salmonella and MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant type of staphylococcus . Most of the bacteria were killed by solutions containing less than 1.6 percent coriander oil, they reported.

"With further testing, the researchers believe that coriander oil might one day be more widely used as a food preservative to prevent bacterial contamination."

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