Cress

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 15. May. 2020

Tasty and super versatile, garden cress is a favorite for many.

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Cress...

  • ...is good for overall health. The vitamin A content (350 micrograms in 100 grams of cress) is good for vision and for healthy, smooth skin.
  • ...protects the heart and brain. The secondary plant substances in cress dilute the blood or inhibit blood clotting. This helps prevent the formation of clots that could cause an infarction or stroke.
  • ...has vitamin power. With 59 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams, cress easily has more of the vitamin than even oranges and covers almost three quarters of the average daily requirement.
  • ...is a slimming. Sprinkling cress on salads, soups, vegetables, egg dishes and more is a great idea for figure-conscious people. The little leaves look great, taste delicious, offer plenty of healthy ingredients, and have nearly zero calories!
  • ...soothes colds. The essential oils and mustard oils in cress can alleviate the symptoms of colds and coughs, among other things.
  • ...is good for mothers. The bioactive plant substances in cress help lactating mothers to stimulate milk production. Cress is also beneficial for pregnant women because 50 grams contain about 1/6 of the recommended daily amount of folic acid, which protects the unborn child from malformations.
  • ...helps with detoxification. Essential oils, sulfur compounds and the high calcium content (85 milligrams per 100 grams) in cress can help to eliminate toxins and excess fluid in the body.
  • ...can help the thyroid gland. Cress is particularly recommended in cases of hyperthyroidism. The isothiocyanate it contains ensure the thyroid gland is not overloaded and can relax.

What You Should Know About Cress

The small seedlings of garden cress are the epitome of the first fresh green after a long winter. Nevertheless, you don't have to wait for spring to eat them. The small beds in a cardboard container with or without the typical plastic cover are available even during winter, when there is hardly any fresh greenery. It's also available at a moderate price because growing cress does not take much work and is so easy you can even grow it yourself at home.

Because the tiny cress seedlings are typically found in small beds at the supermarket, few suspect the plant grows wild up to nearly 2 feet high and then bears pretty white and pink flowers. They are not only decorative but also edible. 

Origin

Garden cress originates from its homeland in South-West Asia and North and East Africa.

Season

Cress is in season all year round, but it is only available from March to September from outdoor cultivation. When the weather gets cold, cress is cultivated in a greenhouse.

Taste

Cress tastes intensely spicy and pleasantly hot.

Here you can find all cress recipes.

How Healthy Is Cress?

Like all greenery, garden cress is generally considered healthy. In fact, the fine seedlings can contribute quite a bit to a healthy diet. In addition to a high content of fiber and protein, garden cress scores points above all with a thick portion of vitamin C (59 milligrams per 100 grams — almost 10 milligrams more than oranges or lemons!). Garden cress is also one of the front-runners in terms of vitamin A content (365 micrograms in 100 grams of cress), which is important for the skin and eyesight.

What gives garden cress its pleasantly pungent and spicy taste is also a health factor. The leaves contain plenty of essential mustard oils, which are particularly good for the intestines and can strengthen the immune system. Cress is also a real fat killer.

Unfortunately, cress is often rich in the fertilizer residue nitrate, from which the health-damaging nitrite can form. However, this effect can be prevented by simply combining large quantities of cress with vitamin C-rich ingredients like citrus fruits or peppers.

Nutritional values of cress per 100 grams  
Calories 33
Protein 4.2 grams
Fat 0.7 grams
Carbohydrates 2.5 grams
Dietary fibre 3.5 grams

Shopping and Kitchen Tips

Shopping

It's hard to go wrong when shopping for cress. Normally you can buy cress fresh in supermarkets and it is usually lush green and has upright leaves. If you want, you can also buy cress from an organic supploer, but that is not a must.

Storage

Cress can be kept in the refrigerator for two or three days, provided you always keep it slightly moist. However, it is best to consume it when it's as fresh as possible, as this is when it contains the most vital substances.

Preparation

You don't need to wash home-grown garden cress, but it is better to rinse it under running water and let it drip dry. Cut off the delicate leaves with scissors instead of a knife, which can easily catch too many of the fine roots.

What to Make With Cress

Cress is easy to use and extremely versatile, simply sprinkle it over sandwiches, salads, soups, scrambled eggs or vegetable dishes. The small green leaves with their slightly pungent taste are also perfect with herb curd cheese and herb butter. You can also use cress to enhance smoothies.

In short, garden cress can do almost anything — you should never boil or fry it, but always add it at the end of a hot meal.

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