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Watercress (organic?), raw

True watercress prefers to grow in water, which is why it is also known as watercress. Raw organic watercress can occasionally be purchased.
Macronutrient carbohydrates 34.96%
Macronutrient proteins 62.33%
Macronutrient fats 2.71%

The three ratios show the percentage by weight of macronutrients (carbohydrates / proteins / fats) of the dry matter (excl. water).

Ω-6 (LA, <0.1g)
Omega-6 fatty acid such as linoleic acid (LA)
 : Ω-3 (ALA, <0.1g)
Omega-3 fatty acid such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
 = 0:0

Omega-6 ratio to omega-3 fatty acids should not exceed a total of 5:1. Link to explanation.

Values are too small to be relevant.

The fresh and cress-like, sharp taste of watercress ( Nasturtium officinale ) is caused by the mustard oil glycoside gluconasturtiin. Raw watercress can sometimes be found in stores as an organic product.

Watercress - Use in the kitchen:

Can you eat watercress raw? In addition to stems and leaves, roots, seeds and flowers are edible raw. With its intense and subtly bitter aroma, the plant, alternatively known as bittercress (bitter lettuce, brook bitterweed), is a spicy ingredient for vegan or vegetarian recipes.

How can you eat watercress? Leaves, shoots, budding flowers and watercress sprouts are a healthy addition to salads and raw food dishes. As a wild salad, raw watercress can be mixed with young leaves of dandelion , nettle , birch , St. John's wort or yarrow . The herb is suitable raw for pestos, green smoothies, herb sauces, spreads or vegan herb butter. It harmonizes with fruits such as apples or oranges and refines marinades, potato recipes and steamed vegetables. Popular dishes with watercress are potato soup or spinach. Like spinach, watercress collapses when cooked; it is mostly added to soups towards the end of the preparation time so that the aroma, spiciness and ingredients are retained.

The decorative and edible watercress flowers are spicy and white, which is why the plant is sometimes called white cress (white cress). The small watercress seeds can be eaten raw, added to bread dough, used asa pepper substitute or ground into mustard . The latter use is the reason for the alternative name water mustard, which should not be confused with mustard cress ( Lepidium latifolium ). The spicy roots can be used fresh and finely chopped as a spice.

Vegan recipe for raw vegetable salad with watercress:

Ingredients (for four people): 100 g watercress (freshly picked or organic); 1 orange, filleted; 1 raw fennel bulb , cut into thin slices; seeds from 1 pomegranate ; 1 carrot , grated; 6 walnuts , freshly pitted; 1 tbsp seed mix (e.g.pumpkin seeds , linseed , sesame ); 1 tsp rapeseed oil , cold-pressed; 1 tsp balsamic vinegar ; 1 tsp liquid honey ; salt ; pepper.

Preparation: Mix the raw watercress (or organic watercress), orange, fennel, pomegranate and carrot with nuts and seeds. Divide the raw food mixture between four plates. For the dressing, mix the oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper and drizzle over the vegan salad.

Recipe for tea with watercress:

Pour boiling water over 2 g (1 tsp = approx. 1.7 g) of dried watercress herb and strain the infusion after 10 minutes. 1 Drink this 2-3 times a day, for a maximum period of six weeks. 2

Vegan watercress recipes can be found under the note: " Recipes that have the most of this ingredient ".

Not only vegans or vegetarians should read this:
Vegans often eat unhealthily. Avoidable nutritional mistakes

Shopping - where to buy watercress?

In comparison to the widely used garden cress ( Lepidium sativum ), fresh watercress (raw quality or raw food quality) is rarely found in stores. Supermarkets and discounters such as Coop , Migros , Denner , Volg , Spar , Aldi , Lidl , Rewe , Edeka , Hofer or Billa as well as the organic supermarkets Denn's Biomarkt and Alnatura may sporadically stock the aquatic plant. Watercress in conventional or organic quality is occasionally available at weekly markets, in green boxes (seasonal boxes, subscription boxes), in organic shops or health food stores, and online. You can also buy it as germinated seeds or in pots. Read more about growing it yourself below.

Thanks to the unique cultivation of watercress in Switzerland, there are good opportunities to buy the fresh greens there. Local weekly markets, organic, farm and health food stores offer watercress as a raw food. And thanks to large distributors, watercress sprouts can be found in well-stocked retail stores throughout Switzerland. Online, you can buy Bio-Suisse-certified Wynau watercress directly from the producer or via sales websites. 18

Found in the wild - watercress season:

True watercress is evergreen, hardy and grows in water. Its carpet-like spread over the water surface is considered a typical appearance. The fleshy, feathery leaves grow on 30-90 cm long, mostly prostrate shoots that are hollow and grooved. The leaves are slightly notched and consist of one to four pairs of leaflets and a larger terminal leaflet. The white flowers, up to 0.5 cm in size, have four petals and yellow anthers. The fruit is a short, clearly stalked pod; the seeds are arranged in two rows in the fruit. The roots are usually loosely located in the bottom of the water 3,4,5 and reach to a depth of one meter. 6

Where does watercress grow? As a wild plant, it grows on the shallow banks of slow-flowing watercourses, clear springs, streams, rivers, ditches, ponds and in stream reed beds (plant communities). These typical locations have given the aquatic plant alternative names such as brook cress, ground cress or ditch cress. It prefers clean, evenly tempered, slightly alkaline and nutrient-rich water in a sunny or partially shaded location. 1,4,5,7,8,9

When can you harvest watercress? Season: The herb can be harvested fresh all year round, preferably in spring before the flowering period (April to June). 4 The seeds are ready for harvest from September. To preserve the stock, the roots should be protected. 5

Collection points must be carefully considered, as water bodies can be contaminated with pollutants and pathogenic organisms. 9 The harvested goods are transported in a bag or bucket with water to preserve the aroma.

The leaves must be cleaned thoroughly, as insect larvae or liver fluke cysts may cling to them. 3 These are the developmental stages (primarily the infectious metacercariae) of the large liver fluke ( Fasciola hepatica ), which is widespread worldwide and is found primarily in temperate climates such as France, Spain, Portugal, Latin America, and East Asia. 24 Unlike the small liver fluke ( Dicrocoelium dendriticum ), ingestion can lead to the clinical picture of fasciolosis (dicrocoeliasis), which is reflected in symptoms such as upper abdominal pain and fever, and rarely jaundice. 24,25 These symptoms appear 2 to 12 weeks after consuming contaminated plant components. They manifest themselves as an attack on the liver (rarely other organs) and can be easily treated with medication. 26


Fresh watercress has a short shelf life of one day at room temperature. For longer storage, the aquatic plant can be wrapped in foil and kept in the refrigerator at 3 to 5 °C for a week. 10

The plant is less suitable for drying, as it loses some of its sharp, bitter properties. 8 Dried herbs should generally be stored away from light and moisture. Freezing results in a bland taste and a shrunken consistency of the leaves.

Watercress ingredients - nutritional values - calories:

The watercress nutrients consist of 0.1 g fat, 1.3 g carbohydrates and 2.3 g proteins per 100 g, which corresponds to a calorie content of 11 kcal.

The content of 250 µg of vitamin K per 100 g is remarkable. Around 30 g of the fresh greens can therefore cover the daily requirement of an adult. The occurrence of 43 mg of vitamin C per 100 g is average. 11 However, there are other sources that assume a higher content. In the scientific literature, for example, one can find figures of 80 mg of ascorbic acid per 100 g or approx. 0.1% (= 100 mg). 2,5 A publication from 2008 also lists a value of 104 mg of vitamin C per 100 g. 22 This would actually make watercress one of the foods richer in vitamin C. 2

Raw chard (830 µg), fresh dandelion (778 µg), raw kale (705 µg) or raw garden cress (542 µg) contain more vitamin K per 100 g. Nasturtiums contain half as much (125 µg). More vitamin C per 100 g can be found in raw garlic mustard (261 mg), raw wild garlic (150 mg), fresh ground elder (140 mg), small sorrel (117 mg) or narrow-leaved willowherb (99 mg). Lower amounts can be found in white cabbage (37 mg) or Chinese cabbage (27 mg). 11

The mustard oil glycosides contained in watercress are responsible for the characteristically sharp taste of watercress. These are represented in the fresh herb with 0.1-0.9% by glucosinolates and gluconasturtiin. The dried herb mainly contains the sharp-tasting isothiocyanates and essential oil (with myristicin as the main component). 1 Other ingredients are flavonoids, 5 bitter substances 4 and, depending on the preparation, free mustard oil. 2

The complete ingredients of watercress, the coverage of the daily requirement and comparison values with other ingredients can be found in our nutrient tables in CLICK FOR below the ingredients picture.

Dangers - intolerances - side effects:

Watercress and especially products made from it should not be consumed in large quantities or regularly over a longer period of time (more than about six weeks). The maximum quantities indicated on the packaging must be observed (for consumption quantities, see folk medicine - naturopathy). Children under four years of age and people with gastrointestinal ulcers or inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract or kidneys should avoid the leafy vegetable. 1,2,8

The reason for this is the mustard oil glycosides contained in the product, which metabolize in the body into free mustard oil, which irritates the mucous membranes. In rare cases, healthy people may experience gastrointestinal complaints. No interactions are known. 1,2

Health aspects - effects:

Is watercress healthy? Nasturtium officinale has been clinically proven to be effective in treating sinusitis, acute bronchitis and urinary tract infections. 1

A randomized study of volunteers showed significant antioxidant effects (in relation to DNA damage and endogenous lipid peroxidation) after several days of ingestion of raw 27 watercress. 1,27

An in vitro model study with human cells confirmed that Nasturtium officinale juice can provide high protection against benzo(a)pyrene-induced DNA damage (e.g., from cigarette smoke) in human cells. 12

In animal experiments, the administration of watercress juice for 15 days was found to provide significant protection against induced genotoxicity (damage to the genetic material). Positive effects on the blood lipid spectrum after administration of watercress extract have also been described in animal models. 1

Watercress is effective against gram-positive and gram-negative pathogens. 2 The plant's own ingredient hirsutin (isothiocyanate) was found to have a strong antibacterial effect against Helicobacter pylori in the laboratory using an agar plate dilution test. Antioxidative effects under in vitro conditions have been described in various studies. In vitro and in a human intervention study, a slight stimulation of detoxifying liver enzymes was observed in vivo . The potential antitoxic effects are under discussion. 1

Use as a recognized medicinal plant:

Neither HMPC ( Committee for Herbal Medicinal Products ) nor ESCOP ( Association of National European Societies for Phytotherapy ) have yet examined watercress. According to Commission E ( Expert Committee for Herbal Medicinal Products ), its use in catarrh of the respiratory tract is a recognized area of application. 1

Folk medicine - natural medicine:

Based on observations , Nasturtium officinale is used for inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract, although the plant has not received a positive monograph for this indication from HMPC , ESCOP or Commission E. Due to the mustard oil glycosides it contains, an effect is nevertheless plausible and known from empirical medicine. A free formulation with other herbal urological agents such as birch leaves, goldenrod or hayhuckel root is useful. Note that the effectiveness is not comparable to chemical-synthetic urinary tract disinfectants or antibiotics. As a phytopharmaceutical , Nasturtium officinale cannot and should not replace short-term therapy with corresponding medications. 2

In traditional medicine, watercress is used today for coughs, and rarely for gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis. 1 Other areas of application in folk medicine include skin diseases, inflammatory processes in the mouth and throat, catarrh, urinary tract diseases and the promotion of bile secretion. 5

Adults should drink 1 tablespoon of freshly pressed juice 3-4 times a day and children over four years should drink 1 teaspoon 2-3 times a day after meals. To make tea, drink one cup 2-3 times a day. Ready-made medicines should be used according to the package insert. Free, individual recipes have not been tested. 2

The daily consumption amounts to approximately 20-30 g of fresh or 6 g of dried herb 2.8 and according to empirical medicine, 15-20 g of freshly pressed plant juice is sufficient. 2

Occurrence - Origin of watercress:

The original distribution area of Nasturtium officinale includes Europe, North Africa with Macaronesia and Asia. As a neophyte, the plant can now be found almost everywhere in the world. 13

Watercress: Growing in the garden or as a potted plant

How can you grow watercress? As a potted plant, this actual marsh and aquatic plant needs a nutrient-rich mix of sand, garden soil and compost. The container is placed in a bowl of fresh water, which is changed daily. For a 15-20 cm pot, use three to four cuttings. Shoots can be pinched off to encourage bushy growth. Root cuttings can be propagated directly in water. 9,15 You can grow watercress yourself without soil in a germination device on the windowsill (you can find details on germination in the article Phytic acid or phytate and soaking or germination ).

If you want to grow watercress in the garden, a loamy soil is suitable as it retains moisture well. As a light-germinating plant, the seeds are lightly pressed into the soil without covering them. The plant thrives in a partially shaded location. Once it has reached a height of 10 cm, you can start harvesting by cutting off the leaves as needed. 15

Watercress cultivation - harvest:

The cultivation of watercress has declined sharply. Isolated, small-scale cultivation areas can be found in karst regions with many springs. 16,17 Medicinal plant imports come from Eastern and Southeastern European countries 1 from controlled wild collection.

Wynau is home to the only cultivation facility in Switzerland, which has existed since 1905. The cultivation on the 12-hectare site is unique in Europe. The plants thrive in 27 water beds in cool, mineral-rich spring water all year round. Care and harvesting are done by hand and without mechanization. 18,19

Animal protection - species protection - animal welfare:

The flower nectar of the watercress is only accessible to butterflies and bees, as it is located at the base of the sagging sepals. If the weather conditions are not optimal, spontaneous self-pollination takes place in the closed flowers. 14

Watercress: Possible confusion

The similar-looking, non-toxic bittercress ( Cardamine amara ) can be found in watercress locations. The distinguishing features are the purple anthers, the non-creeping stems filled with pith and the non-eared leaves of the bittercress. Since the effect and taste are similar, confusion is insignificant. 1.20 Confusion with spring barbara herb ( Barbarea verna ) or hairy bittercress ( Cardamine hirsuta ) is possible. Both plants are edible and non-toxic.

General information about watercress:

True watercress ( Nasturtium officinale ) comes from the watercress genus ( Nasturtium ) and belongs to the cruciferous plants (Brassicaceae or Cruciferae).

Its name 'watercress' is derived from its typical location near water or from the Middle High German "brunne" for spring, spring water, groundwater or flowing water. 21 The term 'watercress' is of Middle Low German origin. 23

Alternative names:

Alternative names are watercress, water mustard, brookcress, brookbitterweed, bittercress, bitter salad, groundcress, ditchcress, white cress (white cress), kersche, Kasse, Bornkassen, Bornkass, Bornkersch or Bronna-Kressig.

Incorrect spellings are water crisis, water circles, water cress, fountain cress, fountain cress, fountain lresse, fountain gresse, fountain cress, fountain cress, fountain cress, fountain kress or bean cress.

In English it is called watercress, water-cress, water cress, or two-rowed watercress.

Herbs used in medicinal herbology are alternatively called Herba Cardamines or Herba Nasturtii aquatici.

Latin names are Nasturtium aquaticum WAHLENB., Nasturtium fontanum ASCH., Nasturtium nasturtium-aquaticum (L.) H.KARST. (nom. inval.), Nasturtium siifolium RCHB., Radicula nasturtium CAV., Radicula nasturtium-aquaticum (L.) RENDLE & BRITTEN, Rorippa nasturtium BECK, Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum (L.) HAYEK, Sisymbrium nasturtium THUNB. and Sisymbrium nasturtium-aquaticum L.

Literature - Sources: