The garden cress latin name: Lepidium sativum. It is related to the cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts. This group of plants collectively called “cruciferous.” This is because of the shape of the flowers. With the four petals arranged in a cross. These vegetables are known because of the class of phytochemicals in them. Which researchers have discovered are powerful anti-cancer agents.
The garden cress is a fast growing annual plant. It can grow up to 60cm. and has many upper branches. It bears numerous, clustered, and tiny whitish to pink flowers. The word “cresso” is German which means sharp and spicy. Most cruciferous plants usually give off a strong, pungent odor to deter pests and foraging animals. The herb is also known in other regions as mustard poor man’s pepper, pepperwort, and pepper grass.
The herb was known as a health remedy in early civilizations from Ethiopia, to Greeks and Romans. In India where it has since been an integral part of traditional health practice.
The nutrients we get from eating Garden Cress
The table below lists the nutrient values measured in fresh garden cress samples. Note the percentage “Recommended Daily Allowance” provided (RDA).
|Nutrient||Unit||Value per 100 g||% RDA||1 cup = 50g||% RDA|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||0.7||0.9||0.35||0.45|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||5.5||2.2||2.75||1.1|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||1.1||3.67||0.6||2|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||69||76.67||34.5||38.33|
|Vitamin A, RAE||mcg||346||38.49||173||19.24|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||mg||0.7||4.67||0.35||2.33|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||mcg||541.9||774.14||270.9||387|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||0.228||1.2||0.114||0.6|
The most significant nutrient in terms of RDA provided is vitamins K. When a full-cup of garden cress consumed, it provided more than the RDA. Vitamin K could cause unhealthy effects taken daily at these levels. Full-cup of the herb provides ample amounts of vitamin C, A, B6, and folate. As well as the minerals potassium and iron.
Consuming about a single cup or less daily. Would be the adequate amount to partake the nutrients in garden cress. This will prevent any toxicity due to vitamin K overdose.
Recently Discovered Phytochemicals
Cruciferous vegetables have a distinct type of phytochemicals. Which contains the elements sulfur and nitrogen. These have been the subject of intense interest from scientific researchers. Because of their ability to help prevent and cure cancer. These two minerals are combined in the structure of the substance. The resulting phytochemical has the ability to kill cancer cells and prevent their spread. One form of this substance in garden cress is glucotropaeolin. It is in inactive form inside the whole and intact plant. But it changes into a potent form when eaten and digested in our bodies.
The concentration of glucotropaeolin was analyzed in a few varieties of garden cress. Amounts measured found to range from 0.733 mg/gram to 1.871 mg/gram of dried garden cress. The highest concentrations measured during harvest time. With a slight decrease in amounts at the start of the flowering of the plants.
Scientific Studies on Garden Cress
The huge interest in cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and kale) focused on their cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Containing sulfur and nitrogen – known as glucosinolates. (Glucotropaeolin is a glucosinolate). This led to numerous scientific investigations of the possible health-promoting effects of garden cress.
- A study using lab cultures of breast cancer cells. The glucotropaeolin was able to stop the cycle of growth of the cancer cells. Furthermore, by disrupting the membranes of cancer cells, the cancer cells were killed. In other experiments, cancer cell cultures from the lungs, ovary and in leukemia were killed by the phytochemical.
- A study in pigs measured how the plant containing glucotropaeolin fed to pigs killed harmful bacteria. The active phytochemical spread throughout the body and measured in both the blood and urine. The urine samples showed bacteria count decreased in number after the pigs were fed the phytochemical.
A review of different researches demonstrated evidence of the following benefits:
- Garden cress seeds were able to accelerate the healing of bone fractures in a group of rabbits over a course of 6-12 weeks.
- The seeds were able to protect the liver tissue from injury caused by harmful chemicals. These chemicals experimentally given to lab rats. The results showed the rats were much less injured than rats in the control group. Which were given the same chemicals.
- In the group of lab rats which were given seed extract. There were significantly fewer markers of liver injury showed in the blood samples.
- The ability of garden cress to prevent hypertension was presented in a lab rat experiment. Water-based extracts were given to rats with high blood pressure. Along with a control group with normal blood pressure. After a week, the group with high blood pressure began to show signs of normalization. Those in the control group meanwhile were unchanged.
- Study on garden cress’ effect displayed its ability to fight a broad range of harmful bacteria and fungi. The study proposes it is because glucotropaeolin combined with other secondary phytochemicals present in the plant.
- Garden cress could have a positive effect on diabetes. Water-based extracts made from 15 seeds given orally. Were able to reduce blood sugar during both short and long periods of administration.
- Garden cress has a positive effect on bronchial asthma. In a clinical trial, patients 15-80 years old suffering mild to moderate asthma. Took 1 gram of the extract from powdered seed extract three times a day. Significant improvements in symptoms during asthmatic attacks observed one month later. Lab examinations of the test group exhibited reductions in the number of inflammatory cells. Which are partly responsible for this respiratory disease.
- In another clinical trial. The powdered seed of garden cress tested on patients suffering from osteoarthritis. The test group was given 3 grams of the powder, twice a day, for 30 days. Most in the group experienced varying but significant degrees of improvements. At the start of the trial, there were symptoms of pain, swelling, tenderness, stiffness of joints, and difficulty in movement. By the end of treatment, 30% had no symptoms. Marked improvements enjoyed by 37.5% while 25% had some improvements.
- Tests were done on lab mice and guinea pig. Showed seed extracts were able to stimulate digestion. The seeds contain cellulose fiber and other complex sugars. These expand and become mucous-like when exposed to water. It aided the digestive system by retaining water in the colon and prevent constipation.
- Dried powder extract from garden cress tested among sheep. Resulted in a 15% increase in milk production. The quality of the milk also improved. As the amount of substance ‘conjugated linolenic acid’ or CLA increased. CLA reportedly also has anti-cancer benefits and can affect weight reduction in obese people.
The Health Benefits of Garden Cress
Garden cress was known in ancient traditional medicine for treating various diseases. It was much used for respiratory disorders, inflammation, swelling, muscle pain, and bone fractures. Muslims used it to kill stomach worms. People from the Mediterranean utilized it to protect their crops from insects and other pests.
Modern scientific research has shed more light and quantified some of its numerous health-giving abilities.
- Powerful anticancer agent – this is by far the most significant healing property present in garden cress. Many lab studies have exhibited it could check the spread of cancerous cells as well as killing them.
- Asthma and other respiratory diseases. Garden cress can help heal and manage these illnesses. Its antimicrobial property can also help fight off infections in the nostrils, throat, and lungs.
- Constipation and other digestive problems. – Garden cress seeds have significant fiber molecules which expand in water. The resulting bulky mixture with mucus-like consistency serves to lubricate the bowel. This helps to pass out normal stools. The mixture could also deposit a protective layer over ulcers to help soothe and heal them.
- Bone fracture healing. – This is most probably due to the calcium and magnesium content of the herb. The anti-inflammatory phytochemicals in it play a role to repair and promote the fractures healing.
- Antimicrobial effect. – Glucotropaeolin in combination with other secondary phytochemicals. Has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Which fight infections from bacteria and other microbes.
- Anti-inflammatory and liver protectant. – Experiments demonstrated the strong anti-inflammatory action of phytochemicals in the plant. Clinical trial provided strong evidence relief of severe inflammation. Due to diseases like osteoarthritis. This action could even protect organs like the liver and bowels from damages. Due to harmful chemicals.
- Anti-diabetic and promotion of weight loss. – The garden cress has shown promise to help fight diabetes. Experiments resulted in a reduction of blood sugar – not dependent on insulin. Eating water extracts from 15 seeds produce this effect.
- Help nursing mothers with milk production. Experiments among sheep gave concrete evidence boosting mother’s milk. The milk volume significantly increased. The quality of the milk also improved due to the increase in healthy phytochemicals in it.
Recipes using Garden Cress
Cough and Asthma Syrup
The syrup recipe in oregano article can be changed by adding some ground seed (or finely chopped leaves) of garden cress. This resulting cough syrup can then be used to help prevent or alleviate asthma symptoms.
1 teaspoon (about 6-7 grams) ground fenugreek seed (if not available leaves processed through a food processor or juicer).
2 tablespoons oregano essential oil extract.
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.
2 tablespoons honey
juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup water
- Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a bowl.
- Transfer into a clean jar or glass bottle with a resealable cap. Store in a cool, dark place or refrigerator.
- Shake well before taking 1-2 tablespoons for a cough or gargle for a sore throat.
- For asthma, take one teaspoon of the syrup 3 times a day.
- Keep the syrup in the refrigerator or a very cool place.
The clinical trial for asthma specified dosage of 1 gram 3 times a day of the seed powder. The syrup preparation will last for about two days following this. Make a new batch when the syrup is finished.
Constipation Flush recipe
The ground seed has cellulose that expands in water and results in a mucous-like mixture inside the bowels when drank. This will help to cure constipation, coat and protect ulcers from stomach acid and infection and help with other digestive problems. This preparation could also help remove problems caused by osteoarthritis if taken regularly.
5- 10 grams powdered garden cress seeds.
1 cup water
- Put the powder into the cup of water and stir well.
- Let is sip in the water for 10 minutes.
- Drink it. Repeat after every 4-6 hours until relief from constipation or ulcer pain.
Anti-cancer Garden cress salad
The leaves used for the salad must be as fresh as possible to benefit from the herb’s cancer-fighting phytochemical. Leaves taken directly from the garden or condo-farm is best.
The risk of vitamin K toxicity will limit the amount of garden cress that can be consumed daily to one cup at the most. So to increase the salad serving size, it would be better to incorporate this ingredient into the salad recipe detailed in the fenugreek article. This will also take advantage of nutritional benefits from the other ingredients. And for added goodness, you may also add some cumin or dill seeds into the mix.
1 cup (50 grams) garden cress leaves
2 cups sprouted fenugreek seeds
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3-4 tablespoon warm water
pinch of cumin powder
⅛ cup chopped onions
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup chopped bell pepper
A handful of cilantro, chopped
Pour garden cress leaves and sprouted fenugreek seeds into the bowl making sure it covers evenly.
Combine the onions, carrots, bell pepper and cilantro along with the remaining ingredients.
Chill for 20 minutes or so before serving.
Why should I grow Garden Cress?
Garden Cress is a great source for Vitamin C and K, Iron and potassium.
Research has confirmed that garden cress is very nutritious. It is packed with potent anti-cancer phytochemicals. Studies have also shown its positive effects on a range of illnesses.
Glucotropaeolin is inactive in whole, intact garden cress. It gets transformed to active when chewed and swallowed in our bodies. (This also happens when the plant is injured by insects). This transformation is the garden cress’ defense mechanism. The effective phytochemical which is strong, bitter and pungent. Insects and animals find this offensive and stop eating the plant.
Cooking garden cress will damage the enzyme needed to transform the glucotropaeolin. Most of it remains ineffective even when digested. Most of the phytochemicals are also lost during cooking. Reducing potency and effectiveness. So freshly grown garden cress is best for health purposes.
Garden cress can prevent periodic asthma attacks and cancer.
Having your own source of fresh garden cress can be a wise decision to make.
How to hydro grow Garden Cress
Garden cress is a small plant. It does not survive frost. Grow rapidly in partial shade to full sun. You can start sidling in incubation planter or use plain kitchen tray with a paper towel on its bottom. After two weeks you will have mature enough seedlings to plant in the condo-farm system.
Put condense quantity of seedling in the condo-farm planter. Cut leaves and use whenever you are making a salad. Its taste somewhat hot. When you see it grow flowers, it means that the plant is becoming mature. It will invest most of its energy producing seeds. You can cut the flowers to keep it in the growing stage, or take the plant out and eat it. Keep some flowers in the planter to grow your next session seeds.
Immediately check the impact of Garden Cress on your body
Growing Garden Cress until it is matured enough to be eaten can take two months. If you want to test the impact of Garden Cress on your body, you can order the following products from iHerb, and get them in about a week. Then you can make an educated decision whether you want to grow Garden Cress or not.
ATrue, Honey Lemon Black Tea Mist
AnneMarie Borlind, Skin Whitening Fluid
Neogen, Real Fresh Foam, Green Tea
Neogen, Code 9, Black Volume Cream Kit
A Review Article Lepidium Sativum (Garden cress).
H.Falana, W.Nofal, H.Nakhleh 2014
Effects of cultivar and developmental stage on glucosinolates in garden cress (Lepidium sativum L.)
Gölge Sarikami and Ruhsar Yanmaz
Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 2011 5(17): 4388-4392.
Benzyl isothiocyanate-induced apoptosis in human breast cancer cells is initiated by reactive oxygen species and regulated by Bax and Bak.
Xiao D, Vogel V, Singh SV.
Mol Cancer Ther. 2006 Nov;5(11):2931-45.
A Review Article Lepidium Sativum (Garden cress)
Stelter K., Bloem E., Berk A., Dänicke S.
Advances in Biological Chemistry. 4: 180-190.
In Vitro and In Vivo Antitumor Activity of Benzyl Isothiocyanate: A Natural Product from Tropaeolum majus.
Pintão et al.
Planta Med 1995. 61(3): 233-236
Effect of cooking brassica vegetables on the subsequent hydrolysis and metabolic fate of glucosinolates.
Proc Nutr Soc. 2007 Feb;66(1):69-81.