WA­TER­CRESS

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Wa­ter­cress ( Nas­tur­tium of­fic­i­nale) is a mem­ber of the bras­sica fam­ily, which also in­cludes broc­coli, cab­bage and cau­li­flower. All con­tain nat­u­ral phy­to­chem­i­cals, which have anti-can­cer prop­er­ties. How­ever, wa­ter­cress has other nu­tri­tional ben­e­fits: it’s rich in many vi­ta­mins, in­clud­ing A, B1, B2, B9 (folic acid), C, D, E and K as well as min­er­als, in­clud­ing cal­cium, io­dine, iron, man­ganese, phos­pho­rus and zinc. The mus­tard oil present in wa­ter­cress also has an­tibi­otic and anti-in­flam­ma­tory prop­er­ties. A two-year study by the Univer­sity of Ul­ster con­cluded that eat­ing wa­ter­cress daily has the abil­ity to re­sist DNA dam­age caused by free rad­i­cals. Wa­ter­cress can be used as a salad green, steamed like a veg­etable, or added to soups, sand­wiches and omelettes to add a pep­pery bite.

In the right con­di­tions, wa­ter­cress can sur­vive in the gar­den al­most in­def­i­nitely. It does best in wet but well-drained soil, such as stream edges, but it can be grown in tubs flooded pe­ri­od­i­cally with water. Old con­crete sinks work par­tic­u­larly well. Start from seed or cut­tings. Wa­ter­cress ap­pre­ci­ates plenty of lime.

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