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Nasturtium, raw (organic?)

Nasturtium (raw, fresh) originally comes from South and Central America. It enriches salads with a pleasant spiciness. Organic quality?
The information we compiled for this ingredient is almost complete and includes many specific details.
Macronutrient carbohydrates 60%
Macronutrient proteins 33.75%
Macronutrient fats 6.25%

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.

Nasturtium ( Tropaeolum majus L. ) can be easily grown in the garden or in the home, in organic quality. It is suitable raw for garnishing spicy dishes and is also used in medicine.

Use in the kitchen

Can you eat nasturtiums? Yes, all parts of the nasturtium are edible. Among the edible flowers, the nasturtium is one of the pioneers on the plate. The nasturtium is not only very decorative, it can also be used wonderfully in the kitchen. Whether on salad or on bread and butter, fresh cress leaves add a pleasant spiciness to any dish. In summer, the flowers of the nasturtium, red, yellow or orange, are a joy for the eye and the stomach. You can give spicy dishes a special touch with the beautiful nasturtium flowers. In autumn, when the flowers slowly turn into seeds, you can harvest the buds. Preserved in vinegar or salt, the 'false capers' made from nasturtium buds can be enjoyed throughout the winter. The 'capers' of the nasturtium combine excellently with salads. For example: Colorful autumn salad with nasturtiums, pumpkin and spinach or as a substitute for real capers and something a little more sophisticated: herb-caper dumplings with carrot puree in white wine sauce .

When talking about the 'large nasturtium' ( Tropaeolum majus ), the 'tuberous nasturtium' ( Tropaelum tuberosum ) often comes up: it is a close relative of the nasturtium ( Troapelum majus ). They differ mainly in their use. The common nasturtium is popular as an ornamental plant because of its attractive flowers and its healthy, tasty leaves; it is often planted in gardens and parks. Whereas the 'tuberous nasturtium' is mainly cultivated for its edible tubers. The nasturtium tubers resemble small potatoes. Therefore, 'tuberous nasturtium' recipes are comparable to potato recipes: you fry them, boil them or make them into a mash. Unlike the tuberous nasturtium, the root of the 'Large Nasturtium' is not suitable for consumption, but it is not poisonous either. Despite their differences, the two nasturtium species share many botanical characteristics and belong to the same genus. The best place to buy the tuberous nasturtium is at your nearest organic farm. However, cultivation of this plant is not very common and availability may be limited.

Nasturtium recipes mainly revolve around using it raw. The spicy taste of nasturtiums goes well in salads, spreads or pestos.

Can you eat nasturtium seeds raw? Yes. The ripe seeds can be dried and used likepepper . To do this, halve the seeds and leave them to dry in a dark place for two days. Then put the seeds in a pepper mill or crush them with a mortar.

The unripe seeds of the nasturtium are ideal for pickling as a storage container.

Vegan pesto recipe with nasturtium

Ingredients: 50 g nasturtium, 4-5 nasturtium flowers, 4 basil leaves, 1 clove of garlic , 40 g sunflower seeds, 10 g almonds , 10 g walnuts , 1 teaspoon lemon juice , 80 ml rapeseed oil , ½ teaspoon sea salt , ¼ teaspoonground pepper .

Preparation: Wash the flowers and leaves and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Put all the ingredients in a high-performance blender and mix finely. If you use a hand blender, it is worth pressing the garlic clove first. The vegan pesto tastes great on wholemeal pasta , for example.

Vegan recipe for nasturtium seeds as 'false capers'

Ingredients (1 jar): approx. 2 handfuls tender green seed pods of nasturtium (organic, raw), 75 ml white balsamic vinegar (organic), salt , 130 ml water .

Preparation: Carefully cut the seed pods, which are connected in threes. Wash them well and place them in a screw-top jar while they are still slightly damp. Sprinkle the 'capers' with salt and shake the jar until they are all well covered with salt. The 'fake salt capers' are left to drain in the fridge for a week, during which the volume is reduced by half. Then wash off the salt and put the capers back in the clean jar. For a long shelf life, boil the jar and lid. Boil the vinegar together with the water briefly. Pour the mixture over the capers so that they are all covered. Then leave to steep for two weeks.

Vegan recipes with nasturtiums (raw) 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

Purchasing - Storage

Nasturtiums are best grown at home. The tasty herb is easy to grow in the garden, on the balcony or as a houseplant. Nasturtiums are in season in Central Europe from June to October . It is only available in exceptional cases from major retailers such as Coop , Migros , Denner , Volg , Spar , Aldi , Lidl , Rewe , Edeka , Hofer , Billa or in organic supermarkets such as Denn's or Alnatura ; usually only in the form of seeds or as dried herbs in herbal mixtures.

The availability of nasturtiums varies depending on the size of the store, catchment area, etc. You can find our recorded food prices for the DA-CH countries above under the ingredient image - and by clicking you can see their development at different suppliers.

Storage tips

Nasturtiums should be eaten as fresh as possible – the leaves and flowers do not store well. They only last 2-3 days in the fridge. 33

If you don't want to go without nasturtiums in the cold season, you can dry them and use them as a tea or spice. Pickled in vinegar or oil, as a caper substitute or as a pesto, nasturtiums will last well into the colder season.

Ingredients - Nutritional values - Calories

Nasturtium has 31 kcal/100g, of which 0.5 g fat, 4.8 g carbohydrates and 2.7 g protein are included. 30

The nasturtium ingredients are characterized by a high content of vitamin K (125 µg/100g). 60 g of the fresh herb covers the daily requirement. However, there are plants that contain much more vitamin K; e.g. dandelion with 778 µg/100g or chard (830 µg/100g). 30

With its vitamin C content, nasturtium (60 mg/100g) trumps lemon (53 mg/100g); however, it cannot keep up with sweet pepper (yellow) (184 mg/100g).

However, 100 g of nasturtium contains 51% of the daily requirement of methionine , an essential amino acid. The methionine content of nasturtium (0.48 g/100g) is similar to that of sunflower seeds and is even higher than that of eggs (0.38 g/100g) or tofu (0.11 g/100g). Chia seeds have a slightly higher methionine content (0.59 g/100g). 30

Nasturtium is also a good source of minerals such as calcium and is in the upper middle range of plants that provide this mineral. With 197 mg of calcium per 100 g of nasturtium, it is approximately the same as green mint (199 mg/100g). Lemon verbena (958 mg/100g) and poppy seeds (1438 mg/100g) have a much higher content. 30

Nasturtium contains 3 mg/100g iron , similar to dandelion or garlic mustard . Dried herbs generally have high levels of iron (as well as calcium), such as dried basil (2240 mg/100g), thyme (1890 mg/100g) or parsley (1140 mg/100g). 30

The nutrients in nasturtiums offer a wealth of healthy properties and are particularly valuable as medicine. 1 However, the nutritional value of nasturtiums is less important, as only small amounts are eaten - the health-promoting effect of the secondary plant substances they contain is more important. 34 The ingredients that determine the effect are the benzyl mustard oil derivatives, the so-called glucosinolates (e.g. glucotropaeolin). The flowers contain carotenoids and anthocyanidins. The plant also contains various phenols and flavonoids - e.g. isoquinocitrine (quercetin-3-o-glycoside), wuercetin glycosides and kaempferol glycosides. 20

The complete ingredients of nasturtium, the coverage of the daily requirement and comparison values with other ingredients can be found in our nutrient tables. In the article Nutrients explained you will get a detailed insight into the topic.

Health effects

Is it healthy to eat nasturtium? Nasturtium has many biologically active ingredients, such as flavonoids (isoquercetin, kaempferol) and carotenoids. In addition, the plant is rich in micronutrients such as potassium , phosphorus , calcium , magnesium , zinc , copper and iron . Due to these properties, nasturtium has a variety of positive effects on health: antioxidant, expectorant, hypotensive (lowering blood pressure), antibacterial and anticarcinogenic. 1

Scientists have studied some components of nasturtiums in more detail in recent decades: 24

The flowers and leaves of nasturtiums contain the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein. It is believed that the intake of these carotenoids through food can improve eye diseases such as glaucoma and diseases of the retina (macular degeneration). 2 Xanthophylls, which include lutein and zeaxanthin, are pigments that, among other things, protect the eye from oxidative stress. Lutein is also an important substance for the human brain and is involved in various cognitive processes, such as language and memory. 3

The flowers of nasturtiums also contain anthocyanins, in similar amounts to those found in blackberries or strawberries . 31 Pelargonidin-3-sophoroside, delphinidin-3-dihexoside and cyanidin-3-sophoroside are the main anthocyanins. 4 Anthocyanins are pigments from the group of flavonoids. They are responsible for the red-orange and blue-violet colors in plants, 5 and are found in increased amounts in the flowers of nasturtiums. 4 Anthocyanins have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties; and can help against certain heart diseases, as well as reduce the risk of developing diabetes or cognitive disorders. 6

It also contains the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol glycosides. 7,8,9 One study examined the hypolipidemic effect of nasturtium on rats. The researchers concluded that nasturtium has a potential antihyperlipidemic activity. The active ingredients of nasturtium caused a significant reduction in all lipid parameters and increased good cholesterol. It also had a relaxing effect on the aorta, promoting the evacuation of excess cholesterol. The polyphenol content, especially isoquercitrin and caffeoyl quinic acid derivatives, were the main bioactive compounds that triggered such activity. 7

There is also evidence that isoquercitrin has a blood pressure lowering effect. One study showed that long-term treatment with an ethanol extract of nasturtium was able to prevent the development of renovascular hypertension in rats and had a significant reno- and cardioprotective effect. 10 Untreated high blood pressure can lead to various kidney and heart diseases. 10 The constricting effect of angiotensin on blood vessels could be reduced in rats by administering a nasturtium extract. It is suspected that isoquercitrin is responsible for the blood pressure lowering effect. 8

Nasturtium also contains kaempferol. This flavonol, which belongs to the group of flavonoids, plays a role in several signaling pathways in the body. Kaempferol is said to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-diabetic effects. 11

The main active ingredient in the nasturtium plant is glucotropaeolin, with the highest content in the leaves. 4 When glucotropaeolin is broken down, benzyl isothiocyanate is formed. This substance has an antimicrobial effect. This means that nasturtium has great potential in animal husbandry as a feed additive, among other things. In one experiment, animal feed was enriched with nasturtium seeds (1 g cress seeds/kg feed). The isocyanate content was measured in the piglets' urine. This was sufficiently high to achieve the desired antimicrobial effect. 12

Nasturtium in combination with horseradish root is used for bronchitis, 14 and rhinosinusitis (inflammation of the paranasal sinuses). 13 Nasturtium also has a healing effect on urinary tract infections 16 and catheter-associated urinary tract infections, 17 and acts as a diuretic. 15 A combination with horseradish root is used to broaden the spectrum of effects, as nasturtium does not help against Pseudomonas, which can also cause an infection of the urinary tract or upper respiratory tract 16

In Germany, the combination of nasturtium herb and horseradish root has been used for over fifty years to treat infections of the urinary tract and respiratory tract. As previously described, the effect is based on the isothiocyanates, formerly known as mustard oils. The isothiocyanates are formed from the specific glucosinolates. The horseradish root provides the allyl and phenylethyl isothiocyanate, the nasturtium provides the benzyl isothiocyanate. This means that this combination has the spectrum of action of a broad-spectrum antibiotic. 18

When nasturtium leaves are consumed, the substance isothiocyanate is formed from glucotropaeolin. This is absorbed in the intestinal tract and excreted in the urine. This is where it exerts its antimicrobial activity. It should be remembered that the glucosinolate content in the leaves varies. For medicinal applications, varieties with a high glucosinolate content should be chosen. 19

Dangers - Intolerances - Side effects

Can nasturtium be poisonous? Studies have not found any toxic effects. 25 However, taking an extract from nasturtium in the early stages of pregnancy can have a negative effect - it makes implantation of the embryo more difficult. This is the conclusion reached by researchers in a preclinical study on rats. 26

Are seed oils unhealthy? The seeds of nasturtiums contain high amounts of erucic acid. 1 Above a certain amount, erucic acid can have a toxic effect on humans and damage the heart. In 2016, the European Food Safety Authority ( EFSA ) therefore set a limit of 2% erucic acid in oils intended for consumption. According to the EFSA , a daily intake of 7 mg/kg body weight is not harmful for adults. 27

Erucic acid is also contained in a drug for the disease adrenoleukodystrophy (a hereditary metabolic disease). 1

Since mustard oil can irritate mucous membranes, people with stomach and intestinal ulcers or kidney disease should avoid nasturtiums. Excessive consumption is also not recommended. Infants and small children should also not eat the herb. 20

Use as a recognized medicinal plant

There is a positive monograph by Commission E on nasturtium. 20,21 The drug, 'Tropaeoli herba' is obtained from the nasturtium herb. The herb is used for urinary tract infections and catarrh of the respiratory tract. 20

Folk medicine - natural medicine

In European folk medicine, nasturtium is used for menstrual disorders, to purify the blood, for fresh wounds, and in the past also as an antiscorbutic, cough remedy and for meteorism (bloated stomach). 20 In Brazil, nasturtium is used for cardiovascular diseases, urinary tract infections, as a diuretic, for asthma and constipation. 20 In South America, the plant is used for infected wounds, 22 in Peru for hair loss and in Argentina for tuberculosis. 20

Ecological footprint - animal welfare

Studies on the ecological footprint of herbs are rare. Therefore, we can only give a rough estimate here using comparable foods:

In Sweden, researchers looked at the CO 2 footprint of herbs grown in pots in a greenhouse. The herbs had 4.67 kg CO 2 eq/kg. The scientists compared this value with various scenarios: The CO 2 footprint could be reduced by several percent with measures such as biological fertilization instead of chemical synthetic fertilizers or reducing fossil fuels. Seasonal differences also influenced the actual footprint of the herbs. 36

As a rule, herbs can be produced in a climate-friendly way. The All you can eat for climate cooperation provides figures for various herbs. Watercress came to 0.32 kg CO 2 eq/kg, parsley to 0.26 and coriander to 0.41 kg CO 2 eq/kg. These footprints correspond to a climate-friendly diet; even when you put them in relation to the nutritional value. For example, a portion of watercress (theoretically 33% of the daily requirement of macronutrients) only comes to 0.461 kg CO 2 eq/kg. 37

Nasturtiums can also be grown wonderfully in your own garden or on the balcony, or you can buy them from a trusted gardener. Make sure you buy organic quality, because nasturtiums kept as ornamental plants can be heavily contaminated with pesticides. 34 It is also possible to grow nasturtiums in the home in the form of 'microgreens'. 22

Despite extensive research, we were unable to find any data on the water footprint of nasturtiums. Spinach has a global average water footprint of 292 l/kg andlettuce has 273 l/kg. These values are below the average for vegetables (322 l/kg). 39 The water footprint of nasturtiums is probably in this range. Experience has shown that they are somewhat more drought-tolerant than most lettuces. In any case, you can generally assume that they have a good water balance.

Nasturtium is susceptible to pests, viruses and fungal infections. In organic vegetable gardens, it can therefore also be used as a trap crop or pest trap, especially for black aphids and cabbage white butterfly caterpillars. 32 It should be noted that there are biological methods to keep pests and pathogens of nasturtium in check. 34

Detailed explanations of various sustainability indicators (such as ecological footprint, CO 2 footprint, water footprint) can be found here .

Animal protection - species protection

In some regions, eg New Zealand and Hawaii, the fast-growing nasturtium suffocates the native, naturally occurring vegetation. This can have negative consequences for habitats and biodiversity of animals as well as plants. 32

Various species of bees use the flower as a source of food. 38

Worldwide occurrence - cultivation

Nasturtiums originate from South and Central America. 9 They are native to Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. There they grow in mountainous regions, creeping and climbing in rock formations. 22,23,35 They were brought from Peru to Europe in the 17th century. 20 Today, nasturtiums are native to Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, Australasia and the Pacific region. 32

Cultivation - Harvest

Nasturtiums are very sensitive to frost. Therefore, they should be grown early or sown directly from mid-May. To ensure that the plant produces plenty of flowers, it is advisable to fertilize only moderately - compost is ideal for this. The seeds are planted 2 cm deep and 10 cm apart; there should be a distance of 20 cm between rows. The plant thrives best in a sunny spot or in partial shade. 28

From summer to autumn you can harvest leaves, flowers, buds and seeds. 33

Further information

Nasturtiums are annuals in Central Europe. In warmer areas they are occasionally perennials. The herbaceous plant has a thin main root and forms underground runners. Round leaves of 3 to 5 cm in size grow on a succulent stem of up to 10 m in length 32 and are connected to the stem in the middle of the leaf spine. The flowers are orange to red (depending on the variety) and bloom from May to October. The fruit has a wrinkled surface and consists of three parts. The spongy fruit tissue is ideal for spreading through flowing water. 20

The leaves of the nasturtium are self-cleaning thanks to their special cuticle (wax layer on the leaves). This effect, the so-called 'lotus effect', can be observed impressively when it rains. As long as the wax layer on the leaves is intact, every drop of water simply rolls off. 23

Alternative names

In German-speaking countries, nasturtiums are also called Kapuzinerli, Stigüferli, flower cress, yellow bird, Jelängerjelieber, salad flower, salad cress, Spanish nasturtium or Turkish cress.

In English, nasturtium is known as 'Indian cress', 'Garden nasturtium' or 'Nasturtium'. The name 'Nasturtium' is somewhat misleading, as this is also the scientific name of watercress ( Nasturtium officinale ).

The drug name is 'Tropaeoli herba'.

Origin of the botanical name Tropaeolum majus : Since the leaf of the nasturtium resembles a shield and the flowers look like helmets, it was decided to name the plant genus Tropaeolum . 'Tropaeolum' is a diminutive of 'tropaeum' - a Latin word that can be translated as 'victory monument'. The nasturtium, hung with the war paraphernalia of shield and helmet, was seen as a symbol of victory. 20,29