Cress lettuce (microgreens): useful properties and contraindications
As you know, the ecology in the modern world has deteriorated greatly. Therefore, many people resort to proper nutrition, try to monitor their health and consume as many vitamins and minerals as possible. One of such useful products and is the hero of today's article, the properties of which back in ancient Rome were considered incredibly healing and divine.
- Types of watercress
- Composition and calories
- How to use garden cress
- General benefits
- For Men
- For Women
- In Pregnancy
- For breastfeeding
- For children
- For elderly people
- When losing weight
- Cress in medicine
- Cosmetic use
- For hair
- For Face
- Garden cress in cookery
- What can be eaten with
- Hazards and contraindications
- How to choose and store
- Can I Freeze?
- Can I Dry?
- How to grow garden cress
- Interesting facts about garden cress
Watercress is an herbaceous annual plant. It is commonly called a horseradish or clopovnik for its specific bitter taste. This plant used to be considered exotic, but now it can be found almost in every garden plot in our country. Watercress has become widespread because of its rapid growth, resistance to cold, unpretentiousness, useful properties, vitamins and minerals.
The plant can be consumed in any form: both fresh and cooked. It is often used to treat various diseases. In addition, it is very easy to grow or find lettuce on the market.
Types of watercress
In nature, lettuce comes in three varieties:
- Whole-leaf - has a large horizontal rosette of leaves up to 23 cm and a height of up to 5 cm. Some of the best known representatives of this species are Ducat ultra-rapid and Broad-leaved early maturing.
- Curly - has strongly rugged leaves and a raised rosette up to 18 cm. Popular representatives of this species are Azhur and Curly Cress.
- Seeded - has a gap between the forks, the leaves are weakly cut.
Composition and calories
Lettuce contains a huge number of useful vitamins and minerals that are not found in any other greens.
The composition of lettuce is complex:
- Of carotene;
- vitamins A, C, PP, S, K;
- an almost complete composition of vitamins B;
- large quantities of magnesium, iodine, iron and calcium;
- proteins and carbohydrates;
- essential oils.
The greens consist of such minerals and vitamins that allow you to use them not only for culinary purposes, but also to improve your health.
Cress lettuce is a great choice for people on a diet and looking to lose weight. This can be explained by the fact that the caloric value of the salad is extremely low and amounts to only 32 kcal, which can not but rejoice.
What are the benefits of watercress
Note that the benefits of lettuce were noted even in ancient Rome. The leaves of the plant were used to treat various diseases. This plant and at the moment - a treasure trove for improving human health, as it:
- reduces the risk of cancer;
- Ideal for people losing weight due to the low caloric content;
- improves the function of the digestive tract and removes all unnecessary things out;
- Tones the human body;
- is a true aphrodisiac for men;
- improves brain activity and speeds up its work;
- Slows down the aging process of the body;
- improves eyesight;
- prevents cataracts;
- Improves liver function.
The plant is incredibly useful for improving sexual activity in men. The unripe seeds of lettuce are used for this purpose. In addition, alcoholic tincture of this plant is considered valuable for the male half of the population for its ability to cure potency, prostatitis and increase sexual arousal.
It is very difficult to find at least one lady who would be completely satisfied with her appearance and would not want to lose weight. Wouldn't you? And this is where watercress can come to the rescue. Its caloric content is very low, which will ensure real weight loss.
In addition, lettuce helps to improve the quality of hair and skin. You can say that it has rejuvenating properties. Also masks from the plant help to fight various skin diseases.
A unique and happy time in any woman's life is pregnancy. Of course, during this period it is necessary to choose the food as carefully as possible. Therefore, doctors recommend women in the position to include in their diet watercress. If you add this herb to the dishes, you can improve the digestive tract and prevent diarrhea. But here it is very important to make sure that the future mother has no allergy to the plant.
Cress lettuce refers to strong allergens. It can be eaten by a mommy who is breastfeeding, provided that the baby is not allergic to it. Before you start adding greens to the diet, you should go for a consultation with your pediatrician.
It is desirable to add watercress to the diet not earlier than three years, as the plant can have a negative effect on the state of the mucosa of the stomach. It is very important to make sure that the child is not allergic to this product.
Cress-salad improves a child's mood and strengthens the immune system. At the first symptoms of colds, you need to give your baby an infusion of leaves several times a day or use them as mustard pots. Since the drink has an expectorant effect, it can be used in the treatment of a severe cough. Therefore, in the season of mass epidemics, you should not forget about watercress, because it will help the child to stay healthy through the strongest colds and frosts.
For the elderly
Grandparents often grow cress in their garden, because its leaves get rid of poor health, improve the digestive and cardiovascular systems, normalize blood pressure, reduce nervous tension and get rid of insomnia. For the elderly, this plant is also important because it lowers cholesterol levels in the blood, which helps to avoid heart attacks, strokes and heart disease.
For weight loss
As noted earlier, watercress has little calories. Therefore, dishes made from its leaves are ideal for people who have the dream of losing weight. In addition, useful minerals and vitamins make greens an indispensable addition to various salads. What is the usefulness of the leaves of the plant? Freshly squeezed juice improves digestion, which helps to eliminate toxins from the body. As a consequence, losing weight will be easy, simple and effortless.
Cress lettuce in medicine
The leaves of the plant cure a huge number of diseases. Cress lettuce is beneficial in treating diarrhea, acne, oral diseases and coughs. In addition, the leaves remove parasites from the body.
Here are some of the most popular recipes for home therapy:
- An infusion of lettuce leaves helps to get rid of an eating disorder. To do this, pour 25 grams of chopped greens with a glass of boiling water. Infuse the drink for 30-60 minutes. After that, strain the infusion. Drink the finished decoction three times a day with a teaspoon before a meal.
- When there are problems with the breast, it is recommended to use dressings from recently plucked leaves. Finely chop the herbs and apply to the sore spot. After a few hours, gently remove the leaves and bathe.
- An infusion of watercress also helps to cure bronchitis or a severe cough. To do this, crush the leaves so that 3 tablespoons are accumulated, and pour a glass of boiling water. Next, strain the infusion. After this, it is ready for consumption. Drink the drink warm, 3 times a day before meals 2 tablespoons.
- The plant can be used to quickly heal external injuries. To do this, you need to make a special ointment. Its preparation is not very difficult. You need to take fresh leaves and grind them well, mixing them with oil melted in a frying pan beforehand. Such a mixture should be applied to the damaged skin. It promotes rapid healing of scratches, abrasions and bruises.
The healing properties of the plant are also used in cosmetology. It is difficult to refute them, because after its use, the skin is smoothed, its tone becomes more even, and all inflammations go away.
Watercress has such an element as sulfur. It is able to form keratin, so necessary for hair growth. If you suffer from a lot of dandruff, the fresh juice of the greens will help you with this.
For your facial skin
If you have problems with your facial skin, watercress can be used to make unique masks to fix them.
- To get rid of acne, you'll need lettuce leaves and water. Put in a pot and boil for 5 minutes. After the allotted time, take out the leaves and wait until they have cooled a little. After that, carefully put them on your face for 15 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly.
- Do you have oily skin? No problem. The recipe is quite simple. Take two tablespoons of finely chopped lettuce leaves and mix with a teaspoon of honey. Into the mixture we add an egg white. Stir thoroughly and apply the mask on your face. After 15 minutes wash it off and rinse well.
- Normal skin is not an excuse to let things slide and not take care of it. A mask of crushed lettuce leaves, olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice will do you good. Leave it on your face for about 15 minutes and then rinse thoroughly.
- Have uneven skin tone? A mask of leaves ground in a blender and milk. 10 minutes after application, rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.
- Very often the skin begins to peel, especially in spring, when the body lacks vitamins. Take 10 mashed watercress leaves, heavy cream and mix thoroughly. Apply the mask to the face and wash off after 20 minutes with lukewarm water.
- For the prevention of skin problems it is often advised to use ice. For this purpose, we add a little water and lemon juice to the lettuce leaves and whip thoroughly with a blender. The resulting puree is placed in molds and sent to the freezer. In the morning, wipe the skin of the face with ice to even out the color and make it more healthy.
Cress lettuce in cooking
As you have already realized, the plant has an original taste, so it is often used as an additive to various dishes. Often the leaves of the vegetable are added to various salads, soups, casseroles, sandwiches and smoothies.
What to eat with.
The plant is useful both fresh and cooked. Where can it be added?
- Dried leaves are often added to omelets or glazed eggs.
- They can be put in fruit salads. A sprinkling of shredded leaves gives the salad an unusual flavor.
- The flavor of meat and fish dishes will perfectly accentuate the smell of watercress.
- If you are a fan of cheese or cottage cheese, you can experiment with adding these greens. The dish is sure to play with new colors.
Be sure to introduce the plant to the diet slowly and systematically, so as not to be disappointed in it. Then you will definitely be able to create original dishes from familiar recipes.
But it is still best to consume fresh greens, because they contain the greatest number of useful vitamins and minerals. In dried form it is better to use it for other purposes.
Cress greens can be added to the diet and eaten at any time of the day. The greens can also be roasted, stewed or boiled if the recipe calls for it. After harvesting the leaves, it is advisable to eat them soon. Of course, you can store them in the refrigerator, but no more than 2 days.
The plant gives the dish a spicy taste and a specific smell. We recommend a delicious salad recipe with the addition of these greens, which will not leave you indifferent.
We will need:
- 100 g carrots;
- 200 g watercress leaves.
- For the sauce:
- 2 tbsp. olive oil;
- A tablespoon of honey;
- lemon juice;
- pumpkin seeds.
Grate carrots on a fine grater and mix all the ingredients with the sauce in one large bowl. Thoroughly mix and sprinkle with roasted pumpkin seeds. Bon appetit! This kind of salad has a lot of the most useful properties and has an incredible unique taste.
Harms and contraindications
Naturally, the benefits of watercress for cooking and masks are beyond question. However, like any other plants, it can cause the human body not only benefits, but also harm:
- If too much watercress is added to various dishes, frequent headaches and insomnia can occur.
- People who suffer from low blood pressure should not include this herb in their diet. Its excess in the body can lower the blood pressure by several times, which is very dangerous.
- The plant refers to strong allergens. Therefore, the leaves should be used very carefully. In order not to stumble upon an unexpected allergy, a test should be performed before using the herbs for the first time. Drop the juice of the leaves on your skin and wait for the body's response. If everything is normal, you can enjoy the vitamins.
Of course, in everything it is important to know the measure. Greens will not harm human health, if you do not exceed its daily rate. Adults are advised to consume no more than 100 g of the product per day, and children - no more than 50 g. Before eating the plant, it is best to consult a doctor.
Very important and interestingly, adding the leaves to your daily meal reduces the risk of blood cancer.
How to choose and store
The plant is sold at the market or on supermarket shelves. As you now know, watercress comes in many types and varieties, so its leaves are found in completely different ways. When buying greens, it is important to evaluate its quality by touch. You need to make sure that the leaves are fresh, strong, whole, without holes and damage. Do not add wilted or withered leaves to dishes, because the vitamin content in them goes to a minimum. Strange spots or excrescences are a signal that the plant is sick. It should not be bought in any case.
If you intend to use the greens after some time, it is best to wrap them in thick paper. If you don't have such a possibility, you can take plastic bags, but they should have small holes in them beforehand so that air can get inside. Do not wash the greens immediately, because then they will begin to rot faster and soon go bad. The best option for storing herbs is a food container. In it, the leaves will not crumple much and will retain their useful properties for a long time. Herbs should be stored in the refrigerator. After the leaves are plucked from the bed, they remain juicy for a week. Therefore, storing the plant longer than 7 days makes no sense.
Can I freeze it?
Of course it is possible to freeze watercress. However, in the case of this plant, its leaves that will be taken out of the freezer in winter will lose their beautiful appearance and extraordinary taste. Therefore, if you want to enjoy a crisp and juicy salad, it will be better to grow the greens on the windowsill all winter. It is not difficult and very convenient.
If you still want to freeze lettuce leaves, however, it can be done in different ways:
- finely chopped into a pulp;
- In small pieces, mixed with ice.
When thawing watercress leaves in winter, it is very important to use them immediately after opening the containers. Secondary freezing, on the other hand, will completely spoil the raw material.
Can I dry them?
Any greens can easily be dried for the winter. Cress lettuce is no exception. It is not difficult. You will need:
- Carefully select the healthiest, youngest, undamaged and juiciest leaves to dry.
- Carefully cut off the rhizomes of the plants.
- Rinse under clean water.
- Dry them with a ladle.
- Place on paper towels.
- Allow the plant to dry.
- Next, dry the leaves in an oven and place in a dark and cool place.
- Put the resulting mixture in a glass container and close tightly.
In winter, the leaves will not give the same smell that they had in summer. However, all the beneficial substances and minerals will remain and will saturate your body.
How to grow garden cress
This is a great way to have fresh cress leaves all winter long. You can grow the plant in two ways: using substrate and using soil.
So, to grow lettuce leaves using the first method, you need to follow the following instructions:
- Lay the substrate at the bottom of the container. The level of the mound should be at least 2 cm. It is necessary to add a little boiling water, so that mold will not appear in the future.
- Take any vessel and pour into it cress grains. Fill them completely with warm water. This is to ensure that the seed has a kind of capsule.
- After a while, move the grains into a prepared container beforehand. It is necessary to do this as carefully as possible, so that the seeds were distributed throughout the entire layer evenly.
- A container with seeds should be covered with cling film, to create a greenhouse effect. Put it near a window, where the sun's rays can't reach. Also it is necessary to take into account that there are no hot batteries nearby.
- After a day, check the seeds. You should see the appearance of small sprouts of fruit. After a day you can remove the foil, because you will see real sprouts.
The plant is very easy to care for. It requires only daily watering and turning the container around, so that the sprouts do not stretch to one side. Feed the greens with a variety of fertilizers, which she happily accepts.
In half a month, cress is ready to eat.
So how to grow watercress using soil:
- In a vessel, pour the soil, the height of 5 centimeters. After that, carefully distribute it so that the rows were even, and the distance between them did not exceed 20 centimeters. You can do everything much easier, just pouring the grains from the container on the soil and sprinkling a thin layer of soil.
- Cover the vessel with the future crop with a film. Make sure that the temperature in the room does not drop below 18°C. You will have to wait a little longer for the seedlings to grow because they will sprout through the soil layer. This will make the plant healthier and stronger, because its root will be stronger and will not be pulled out.
- The care of the sowing is not different from the first method. Timely watering and feeding are the main elements for growing juicy and tasty cress leaves.
As you can see, enjoying this plant year-round is not that difficult!
Interesting facts about garden cress
- In Morocco and Iran, the leaves of the vegetable are used to make a stimulating drink. It serves as a good aphrodisiac for men.
- In Italy, the representatives of the stronger sex believe that before a stormy night it is necessary to eat pasta with seafood and watercress. Then the whole process will take place at the highest level.
- As far back as Ancient Egypt, girls began to use watercress leaves to make remedies to help maintain youth and beauty.
- In Africa, the plant is used as animal feed.
So, we hope that from today's article you learned a lot of new and useful information. Cress lettuce is a unique plant that can be grown in any environment. Lettuce leaves are very popular in medicine as well as in cooking and cosmetology. Be sure to add cress to your diet. Believe me, you can notice an improvement in your health after just a few months. Good luck!
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