Garden cress: Packed with power

Garden cress seeds are loaded with nutrition. When you learn about their health benefits, you'll want to make them an part of your diet sooner than later

Garden cress [commonly known as aliv in Marathi or halim in Hindi] is a green, cool-season perennial plant used as a leafy vegetable, typically used as a garnish. Undisturbed, the plant can grow to a height of two feet with minimal maintenance. When mature, garden cress produces white or light-pink flowers, and small seed pods. It has long leaves at the bottom of the stem and small, bright-green, feather-like leaves arranged on opposite sides of its stalks at the top.

Nutrition profile

Garden cress is an important source of iron, folic acid, calcium, vitamins C, E and A. The seed contains arachidic and linoleic fatty acids. The seeds are high in calories and protein, whereas the leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A, C and folate.

Both the leaves and stems of cress can be eaten raw in salads or sandwiches, and are sometimes called cress sprouts. When buying cress, look for firm, evenly coloured, rich green leaves. Avoid cress with any signs of slime, wilting, or discoloration. If stored in plastic, it can last up to five days in a refrigerator. To prolong the life of cress, place the stems in a glass container with water and cover them, refrigerating the cress until it is needed.

Health benefits of garden cress

For women's health

Emenagogue: Garden cress has mild oestrogenic properties. It helps to regulate the menstrual cycle.

Galactogogue: Kheer made of garden cress seeds increases milk production and secretion in lactating mothers. Because of its high iron and protein content, it is often given post-partum to lactating mothers.

Aphrodisiac: Garden cress helps to improve libido.

For the gastro intestinal tract

Garden cress helps purify blood and stimulate appetite. It is used during constipation as a laxative and a purgative. Paste made of the seeds can be taken internally with honey to treat amoebic dysentery. The mucilage of the germinating seeds allays the irritation of the intestines in dysentery and diarrhoea. Garden cress crushed and drunk with hot water is beneficial to treat colic especially in infants.

For the respiratory tract

Garden cress seeds are good expectorants and when chewed they treat sore throat, cough, asthma and headache. The aerial parts are used in the treatment of asthma and cough.

For anaemia

Garden cress seeds being the richest source of non-haeme iron [iron found in haemoglobin which is an easily absorbed dietary iron.] help to increase the haemoglobin levels. When taken regularly, it helps to alleviate anaemia. It is advisable to have vitamin C half an hour after consumption of these seeds as it enhances iron absorption.

For diabetes

The seed coat of germinating seeds contains mucilage, which has a phytochemical called lepidimoide. Studies show that seeds of the plant lower the glycemic response to a test meal.

For cancer

Garden cress seeds contain antioxidants like vitamin A and E which help protect cells from damage by free radicals. Hence, these seeds have a chemoprotective [drugs which protect healthy tissue from the toxic effects of anticancer drugs] nature.

For other things

Garden cress seeds are memory boosters because they contain arachidic and linoleic acids. They help gaining lean body mass because they are a good source of iron and protein. Research has proved that 60 per cent women have hair loss due to low iron levels and poor protein. A teaspoon of garden cress seeds soaked in lime water helps in iron absorption, which in turn strengthens hair. The plant is also used in treating bleeding piles. The leaves are mildly stimulant and diuretic, useful in scorbutic [related to or resembling scurvy] diseases and liver complaints. A paste of the seeds with water is applied to chapped lips, and against sunburn.


It is an abortifacient [substance that induces abortion], if had in excess. It contains goitrogens that prevent iodine absorption in thyroids and hence can lead to hypothyroidism. If large quantities of garden cress are consumed, the mustard oil it contains may cause digestive difficulties in some people who are sensitive to it. Therefore, garden cress should be eaten in moderation.

Values for 100g of garden cress leaves
Energy 30 Kcal
Carbohydrates 5.5 g
Dietary fibre 1.1 g
Protein 2.6 g
Fat 0.7 g
Vitamin A 346 mcg
Folate 80 mcg
Vitamin C 69 mg
Calcium 81 mg
Iron 1.3 mg

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  1. […] Cress: I mostly use cress just to flavour up some plain foods or salads but after some research it turns out that its an Aphrodisiac!! There were a whole list of other health benefits but do you really need to know any more… […]

  2. Hi,

    I would like to know where to purchase these seeds from? Also, can i grow a garden cress plant and then obtain seeds from it?

  3. gardencress has lot of phenols, how about the availability of iron and calcium

  4. Soak about 1-2 tsp of halim seeds in enough water to soak them and they will start to get a gelatinous outer cover and become slimy.

    Heat 1 cup milk, add sugar or jaggery and mix in soaked halim seeds and drink up.

  5. Article is informative and I want to know the quantity to be taken daily and the form in which it is very effective

  6. i want to know the exact quantity of HALIM.Is it ok if we have halim regularly 1 tblspoon morning for one month.please tell me moderate quantity of halim

  7. my mother give us on empty stomach, from the end of winter to the begging of spring, i never think it is useful like this but i like the test, she soak it over night with lime, garlic and salt. and i am happy to know what i am taking.

  8. very impressive! i use to have egg&cress sandwich very often. so i just wanted to know whether its healthy or not.i was worrying about irregular period. but now i have it regular. and i also can control my weight ideal. thanks for the info.

  9. Garden cress in malayalam it is AASALY, available in ayurvedic shops. I am using now for few months & found good for me.

  10. Dear sir,
    I am 52 years old male person, I have tremor in both hands,I am suffering from this problem since last ten years, now problem increased, I can’t hold a cup of tea without spalshing, please help me by suggesting herbal medicine to overcome from this disease.
    S K Sarkar

  11. Very interesting facts about aliv. I am slightly anemic, and wonder how many grams of aliv seeds I should consume per day. Should I soak them for some time, and eat them that way, or do they have to be cooked?

  12. Sushma: I suggest you stick with your prenatal vitamins and folic acid. Too risky to take any chance at your 8th month.

  13. HI

    I am eight months pregnant and i have low hemoglobin count… I hate eating iron tablets. I read in the newspaper today about garden cress but i have no idea where to find it.I stay at Nerul in Navi Mumbai. I will be grateful if you can suggest where to find it.



  14. Dear sir;

    It is very informative .But what is aliv. I am south indian I am unable to find it on web too. Is it flaxseeds?

    Thank you

  15. Good article. Pls see if you can work on “Squalene” which I find has very interesting nutritional properties

  16. I love greens but didn’t realize they were this good for you. Thank you!!Very informative article!!! Next time, I shall look for garden cress specifically when shopping for vegetables.

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