Coriander seeds and cilantro leaves contain an antibacterial chemical called dodecenal that kicks some serious Salmonella butt.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that dodecanal was more potent against Salmonella than gentamicin, a drug used to treat salmonella poisoning.
“We were surprised that dodecenal was such a potent antibiotic,” says study leader Isao Kubo, Ph.D., a chemist with the University of California, Berkeley. Most natural antibacterial agents found in food generally have weak activity.
“The study suggests that people should eat more salsa with their food, especially fresh salsa,” Kubo adds.
All that being said, researchers warn that we’d have to eat a lot of cilantro to truly protect against the bacteria:
There’s only a small amount of the potent antibacterial in a typical serving. “If you were eating a hot dog or hamburger,” explains Kubo, “you would probably have to eat an equivalent weight of cilantro to have an optimal effect against food poisoning.”
That’s why there is talk of creating a food additive using dodecenal that will prevent foodborne illness. The compound could also be used as a general disinfectant.