Cilantro During Pregnancy | Benefits & Risks To Be Aware Of

| Reviewed By Sarah Schulze, MSN, APRN, CPNP

If herbs were absent, the taste of food would be drastically altered. They contribute to the overall flavor and enticing scent, transforming even the most basic dishes into delectable creations.

Cilantro is a very popular herb that is used as a culinary spice and makes for some delicious salads and pasta.

You may be a regular cilantro consumer, but now that you are pregnant you might wonder…

Is cilantro safe during pregnancy? According to the FDA, cilantro is safe during pregnancy as long as it is consumed in normal food amounts and necessary safety precautions have been taken when washing and preparing the herb. Cilantro is rich in antioxidants and vitamins, and the plant’s seeds (coriander) are considered safe as well.

In this article, you’ll learn all you need to know about cilantro and how it affects your pregnancy. 

Using Cilantro While Pregnant – What To Know

The good news is that you’ve got the green light to keep eating your cilantro! There are a few things you should keep in mind, however, as you spice up your dishes with that green garnish. 

Cilantro While Pregnant

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes cilantro as a safe flavoring agent to consume during pregnancy. Pregnant women can consume cilantro in normal food amounts without having to worry.

They should, however, avoid consuming large or medicinal amounts of cilantro and be sure to take extra precautions when it comes to cleaning their cilantro (and other produce items) in case of bacterial contamination.

Does Cilantro Cause Miscarriage?

Pregnant women are often very aware of the things they put in their bodies and are careful to not consume anything that could put their baby in danger.

Some pregnant women have been hesitant to consume cilantro because of things they have heard about the herb causing miscarriage. 

This idea comes from a single study that indicated cilantro may have antiplatelet or anticoagulant properties. This creates a fear in pregnant women that cilantro will cause bleeding that will result in a miscarriage. 

Fears and old wives’ tales aside, there is no current evidence to prove that cilantro can directly cause miscarriage.

Benefits of Cilantro During Pregnancy

Similar to other herbs and spices, cilantro has many health benefits for pregnant women. 

Cilantro is rich in antioxidants, which are great for the immune system and reducing inflammation in the body. Its leaves and seeds are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins K and A.

These are vitamins that the body needs to support essential functions, and during pregnancy, they help with the baby’s organ and skeletal development. 

Additionally, coriander (cilantro) seeds are being studied for their chemical composition and biological activities such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, anxiolytic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer activities. 

Cilantro While Pregnant – Risks To Be Aware Of

The primary concerns and risks with eating cilantro while pregnant come from its chemical properties and the possibility of the leaves being contaminated with harmful bacteria. 

Cilantro may have antiplatelet properties, which increases your risk of bleeding. This is a concern for pregnant women, as excessive bleeding can end in a miscarriage.

However, as long as you are consuming a normal food amount of the herb, you do not need to be concerned. 

What you should be most concerned about, however, is the possibility of cross-contamination and harmful bacteria living on your cilantro leaves.

Because this herb grows low to the ground, it is susceptible to contamination by bacteria and parasites found in soil and irrigation water.

The most common bacteria found on cilantro leaves are Cyclospora cayetanensis, E. coli, and Shigella sonnei, which are known to cause food-borne illnesses that may be worse for pregnant women. 

For this reason, it is important to take extra precautions in the washing and preparation of your cilantro (and other raw herbs) prior to consuming it while pregnant. 

Coriander During Pregnancy

Cilantro refers to the leaves of the coriander plant, which belongs to the FDA’s GRAS, or Generally Recommended as Safe, category. This means that any part of the plant is safe for human consumption, even during pregnancy. 

Are Herbs Safe To Cook With During Pregnancy?

A woman washing fresh cilantro in her kitchen sink.

Generally speaking, most herbs are safe to cook with during pregnancy. Culinary herbs such as basil, parsley, sage, and ginger are safe to consume as long as they are in their original form and not in a pill.

Safe Herbs During Pregnancy

In addition to using herbs to cook, there are some herbs that are safe to use orally and are used to treat several pregnancy symptoms. They include: 

  • Peppermint leaf and ginger root to relieve nausea
  • Slippery elm bark to relieve nausea, heartburn, and vaginal irritations
  • Oats and oat straw to relieve anxiety, restlessness, and irritated skin

Herbal Supplements To Avoid During Pregnancy

There is not an exhaustive list of herbal supplements to avoid during pregnancy, so it is always best to consult with your doctor before consuming any herbal supplement. 

Here is a list of some of the lesser-known supplements to avoid: 

  • Almond oil
  • Cranberry capsules
  • Comfrey 
  • Blue and black cohosh
  • Pennyroyal 
  • Buckthorn 
  • Cascara
  • Coltsfoot
  • Cornsilk
  • Devil’s claw root
  • Dong Quai
  • Ephedra
  • Feverfew
  • Gerrymander
  • Ginseng
  • Hawthorn
  • Horseradish
  • Lobelia
  • Margosa oil
  • Mate
  • Rue
  • Sassafras
  • Skullcap
  • Senna
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Uva ursi
  • Yarrow

When it comes to herbal teas, avoid these during pregnancy: 

  • Echinacea tea
  • Hibiscus
  • Licorice
  • Raspberry leaf tea

Related Questions: 

Is Rosemary Safe During Pregnancy?

It is safe to cook with rosemary while pregnant, however, rosemary is not safe when used orally in medicinal amounts due to it having uterine and menstrual flow stimulant effects. 

Is Thyme Safe During Pregnancy?

Like rosemary, thyme is safe when used in amounts commonly found in food but becomes dangerous when consumed in larger, medicinal amounts. 

Closing Thoughts 

There you have it! Hopefully, you found this information both relieving and helpful.

One downside of pregnancy is all of the worrying about what you can and cannot consume. Rest assured that cilantro and other herbs are perfectly okay so long as they are consumed appropriately.