25 Health Benefits of Aliv/Halim/Garden cress seeds
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Garden cress (Lepidium sativum) was considered an important nutritional and medicinal plant in India since the Vedic era (between 500‐ 1700 B.C.) [1]. These seeds commonly referred to as “Aliv” in Marathi, “Halim” and “Chandrapur” in Hindi, and “Asali” in Malayalam (Singh and Paswan, 2017) [2].

Aliv is a good source of protein, fiber, phenolic acids, and so many nutritional compounds. Healthy foods can be prepared by incorporating these seeds in our daily recipes[3].

Health benefits of Aliv or Halim seeds or Garden cress seed

Garden cress seeds or Halim seeds or Aliv seeds have several health benefits which are summarized below-

1. Aliv improve the hemoglobin level and can cure anemia

Mild to moderate anemia is a common health problem of several women that may be efficiently managed by taking Aliv seeds regularly. Garden cress seed is the richest source of iron, providing 100mg of iron per 100g. Since it is vegetarian food, non-heme iron is present in it. Regular intake of a single Aliv laddu is effective to improve the hemoglobin level of women and thus prevents anemia.

It is better to take a citrus fruit or fruit juice with the garden cress seeds because vitamin-C present in citrus fruits increases the absorption of iron from foods [4], [5]. 

Scientific study confirms that daily intake of Aliv seeds is effective to increase hemoglobin level of adolescent girls[6].  

2. Beneficial role of Aliv on Lactating Mothers

Aliv assist the initiation, maintenance, and augmentation of maternal milk production [7]. Animal studies indicate that regular intake of garden cress (Lepidium sativum) seeds –

  • Stimulate the growth, development of mammary glands of women.
  • The size of alveoli and lobules increases in non-pregnant and non-lactating women.
  • Branching of the vesicles increases in the case of pregnant women
  • Lobes are expanded and contain more branching vesicles in lactating women.

Intake of aliv seeds causes a considerable increase in the LH, FSH, estrogen, progesterone, prolactin hormone levels of women. These seeds contain many alkaloids and flavonoids, some of which influence the secretion of hormones by endocrine glands. A high level of prolactin hormone in the lactating mother promotes milk secretion [7], [8].

25 Health Benefits of Aliv/Halim/Garden cress seeds 1

3. Aliv is effective to regulate the menstrual cycle.

Since Aliv seeds contain phytoestrogen which acts like estrogen hormone, it has the ability to regulate the menstrual cycle. These seeds stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and around the uterus and thus induce menstruation. So, if you have an abnormal menstrual cycle, you should try this herbal remedy to regularize it [9], [10].

4. Aliv helps to treat menopausal symptoms

Menopause (cessation of menstruation) is a phase of all middle-aged women. It happens due to a decrease in the level of female sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone in the female body. Due to hormonal deficiency, most women face certain mild to moderate symptoms like hot flushes, vaginal dryness, skin irritation, mood swings, sleep irregularity, weight gain, etc.

Since Aliv seeds contain phytoestrogen which has a similar structure to human estrogen, it mimics the functions of estrogen and acts as a weak estrogen. For this reason, the intake of garden cress on a regular basis is able to treat menopausal symptoms [11].

5. Aliv reduces the risk of breast cancer

The incidence of breast cancer is increasing in India [12]. It is more common in young women [13]. Cancer is a major cause of death worldwide with breast cancer being the most common cancer and a leading cause of death in women in many parts of the world[14]. 

The survival rate of breast cancer is low in our country because it is not detected at an early stage. A healthy lifestyle and awareness are the key to prevent this severe health issue.

Aliv seeds have anti-inflammatory activity and anti-carcinogenic properties. Since these seeds are very good sources of antioxidants and phytosterols, they are effective to prevent free radical damage to cells. For this property, it can act as a natural chemoprotective agent, protecting us from cancerous growths [15]. Aliv contains a compound called Glucosinolates which is effective to inhibit the development and proliferation of cancers[14].

6. Aliv seed intake improves nutritional status

Aliv seed is a good source of protein and fat and loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It can be given to growing children and adolescent boys and girls to improve their nutritional status. It is the richest source of iron [16], [17].

7. Aliv seed prevents obesity

The incidence of obesity increases in India. It is more common among females than that in males. The city-dwellers and those living in small towns have a greater risk of developing obesity than the villagers [18]. Though aliv or garden cress seed is high energy and high-fat foods (providing 454 Kcal and 24.5 grams fat per 100g seeds), intake of these seeds is beneficial for the obese women because-

  • It is a high protein food having good satiety.
  • It is an excellent source of fibre (7.6g / 100g of seeds), so take longer time to digest and thus reduce the food intake.
  • It is loaded with antioxidants that helps to maintain good health.
  • It helps to maintain optimum blood glucose level.

So those persons who are on weight loss diet can consume Aliv.

25 Health Benefits of Aliv/Halim/Garden cress seeds 2

8. Aliv seeds have a hypolipidemic effect

A regular intake of garden cress seeds is a natural home remedy for correcting abnormal lipid profiles. So, it is good food for cardiac patients, obese persons as well as diabetic individuals [19], [20].

9. Hypocholesterolemic activity of Aliv

Aliv seeds are healthy food for those suffering from high cholesterol levels or abnormal lipid profiles. Regular intake of these seeds ensures a better lipid profile of individuals. A 4-week animal study revealed that daily intake of Halim seeds[21], [22], [23]-

  1. Reduce the plasma cholesterol level
  2. Decreases serum triglyceride level
  3. Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) level and
  4. Increase the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) level

10. Aliv is good for those suffering from cardiac problems

Hypercholesterolemia, dyslipidemia, and associated cardiovascular diseases (CVD) represent one of the greatest health problems prevalent throughout the world. Daily intake of Aliv seed is beneficial for cardiac patients [24].

11. Role of Aliv seeds in the diet of diabetes patients

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) due to total or partial deficiencies in insulin secretion or function. This disease cause morbidity and mortality of millions of people throughout the world, particularly in developing countries like Africa, Asia, and South America. Aliv seed has a potent anti-diabetic activity and thus it is an effective remedy to reduce blood glucose level [25]. [26].

Since it has a hypoglycemic effect, it can reduce the blood glucose level. You can observe the result within 3 weeks[26]. [27].

Diabetic patients usually have high cholesterol levels which further increases the risk of getting cardiac diseases. So, reducing the blood cholesterol level is essential to reduce the complications of the diseases. Animal studies confirm that adverse change in lipid profile of diabetes patients is improved and make better due to increase of Halim seeds. [28].

Kidney health of diabetes patients is also affected, renal problems is a serious consequence of these persons. Diabetes reduces the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) causing an increased level of urea and creatinine [27].  So, to avoid renal complications, optimum renal clearance of diabetic persons is essential.

The daily intake of Aliv is beneficial for diabetes patients because these seeds-

  • reduce the blood glucose level [29].  
  • reduces the blood cholesterol level [27].  
  • improve the blood lipid metabolism[29].  
  • Improves the activity of antioxidant enzymes [29].  
  • prevent the complications of diabetes mellitus[30].  
  • increase the kidney function and reduces the creatinine level [27].  

For this reason, the medicinal potential of aliv seeds should be properly utilized in the prevention and management of diabetes mellitus and its related complications[27].  

25 Health Benefits of Aliv/Halim/Garden cress seeds 3

12. Aliv seeds are very effective for the treatment of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common chronic disease, characterized by the deterioration of the cartilage in joints which results in bones rubbing together and creating stiffness, pain, and impaired movement. The disease most commonly affects the joints in the knees, hands, feet, and spine [31].   

Osteoarthritis is a major cause of disability in older adults worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 9.6% of men and 18.0% of women aged over 60 years have symptomatic osteoarthritis worldwide. 80% of those with osteoarthritis have limitations in movement, and 25% cannot perform their major daily activities of life.

In India osteoarthritis is more common in women than men. Nearly, 45% of post-menopausal women, aged over 65 years, have symptoms while 70% of women of this age group show radiological evidence of OA [32].    

In our country, Aliv seeds are traditionally used to cure osteoarthritis. Scientific studies also support the use of these seeds in osteoarthritis.

In osteoarthritis, Aliv seeds provide very good effective relief of the symptoms like joint pain, swelling, stiffness, tenderness, and difficulty in movement. So, this traditional medicinal herb should be utilized properly to alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis [33], [34].  

13. Aliv seeds are effective to heal bone fractures.

For a long back, Aliv seeds are used to heal fractures and accidental injuries. The seed powder is mixed with little water to make a paste, which is then applied to the affected areas. It also consumed with water or warm milk to heal the fractures internally. Scientific studies also confirm that Aliv seeds have the capacity to heal bone fractures within 6 to 12 weeks [35].  

Since Aliv is a rich source of calcium and phosphorus, it accelerates bone healing and thus can be used as an alternative to synthetic calcium and phosphorus supplements [36].  

14. Aliv seeds help to maintain liver health.

Aliv seeds help to protect our liver from harmful toxins. Regular intake of garden cress seeds helps to prevent liver damage and thus ensure healthy metabolism [27],[37].  

15. Antimicrobial activity of Aliv seeds

Aliv seeds have antimicrobial properties against many bacteria and fungi. So, the daily intake of small amounts of tiny seeds has an enormous impact to make us healthy[38].  

16. Aliv seeds has an antifungal property

 Aliv seeds are traditionally used to treat many infectious diseases. The repetitive occurrence of fungal diseases is a major health issue for those persons having poor immunity. Scientific research also revealed that Aliv have the ability to inhibit fungal diseases [39].  

17. Aliv seeds have good antibacterial potentials.

Pathogenic bacteria cause several diseases in our body. Aliv has the ability to kill these bacteria [40], [41].

18. Diuretic activity of Aliv seeds

Aliv seeds are a natural diuretic agent. It is an appropriate choice of food for those having a problem with water retention. It also increases the excretion of sodium and potassium[42]. Boil a spoon of Aliv seeds in a glass of water for 10 minutes. Take it in the morning, it will help you to eliminate excess water retained in the body. It also helps you to lower bloodpressure[37].  

25 Health Benefits of Aliv/Halim/Garden cress seeds 5

19. Aliv are useful to maintain renal health.

Regular intake of a teaspoon of Aliv seeds is beneficial to prevent renal diseases[34],[43]. These seeds protect our kidneys from toxic agents [37].  

20. Aliv seed is good for constipation patients.

Due to high fiber content, Aliv seeds have a good laxative effect. It also has a good water holding capacity which increases the fecal volume and thus ensures regular elimination. This natural laxative should be taken regularly by those suffering from mild to moderate constipation[34], [44].

21. Aliv seeds help to reduce asthma symptoms

Aliv have a broncho-dilator property. These seeds help to expands the bronchial and help to relieve from common cough and cold to asthma [45]. Daily intake of 1g of Halim seeds, 3 times a day, reduces the severity of asthma within 4 weeks[46].

22. Aliv seeds is good for hyperthyroidism patients

Hyperthyroidism is a common hormonal disorder for Indian women. [47]. It is more common among females than males [48]. Hyperthyroidism is a hormonal disorder caused by excessive secretion of thyroid hormones, that is tri-iodothyronine (T3) and tetra-iodothyronine (T4). The pituitary hormone, Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) controls the secretion of T3 andT4.

Aliv contains goitrogenic substances, which interfere with iodine absorption by the thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism is due to an increase in serum T3 and T4 with the lowering of serum TSH, and thus Aliv seeds help to treat hyperthyroidism [49].

23. Aliv seeds are good for your skin

Since aliv seeds are rich in several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it is good for your skin. The seeds are also blessed with the goodness of its antifungal and antibacterial properties. So, the application of soaked Halim seed paste on the face and body helps you to achieve clear skin and prevent skin diseases [50], [51]. 

Aliv can be blended with water and honey to form a thick paste that can be applied on the skin to treat sunburn, irritated skin, dry skin, and broken lips [52], [53]. But if you are allergic to Halim seeds, you should avoid them.

24. Aliv is used for hair loss (alopecia) treatment

These seeds are an excellent source of protein and iron thus can be used for treating people suffering from hair loss [52]. It is used to strengthen hair [9]. 

25. Aliv seeds act as a memory booster

These seeds contain arachidonic acid and linolenic acid which helps to improve our memory. The body cannot synthesize these fatty acids but they are essential for the body. So, they are must be supplied through the diet [9],[17], [22], [54].

Though Aliv are a nutrient-dense food having several health benefits, it should not be taken in excess amount. It should be taken regularly but in small amounts. Intake of around 10 to 15g of seeds that is 2 to 3 teaspoons of seed is good for maintaining optimum health. Excess intake of Halim seeds may cause the following side effects-

  • Aliv Seeds contain goitrogens which reduce the iodine absorption required for Normal Thyroids function.
  • Excessive consumption of Aliv seeds can cause bloating and flatulence due to its fiber content.
25 Health Benefits of Aliv/Halim/Garden cress seeds 6

Who should avoid intake of Aliv/ Halim/ Garden cress seeds?

  • Pregnant Women [9]. 
  • Those are suffering from hypothyroidism and / goitre [55]. 
  • Garden cress seeds should not be taken with diuretic medicine[15]. 

How can you eat Aliv/Halim/ Garden cress seeds?

Aliv or Halim Seeds can be taken as roasted seeds or Sprouted seeds or can be incorporated into our daily menu. Several types of interesting recipes can be made using garden cress seeds.

Table-1: Types of Aliv seeds recipes

Types of RecipeName of recipes
Healthy drinkRefreshing Aliv seed nimbupani
Herbal tea with Aliv seeds and honey
Breakfast recipesSandwich with Aliv seeds sprouts
Raita with Aliv seeds sprouts
SaladSalads with sprinkle of roasted Aliv seeds
SnacksRoasted Aliv seeds laddu with dates
A healthy multi-seed mix containing 20% Aliv seeds
Aliv coconut barfi
DesertAliv seeds kheer, Aliv seeds halwa

Nutritive value of Aliv/Halim/Garden cress seeds

  • Garden cress seeds or Aliv seed or Halim seed is high energy (454Kcal / 100g), high protein (25.3g /100g), high fat (24.5g /100g), high fiber (7.6g /100g), low carbohydrate (33g /100g) food.
  • It is the richest source of iron (100mg /100g) and a very good source of calcium (377mg /100g), magnesium (430mg /100g), and phosphorus (723mg /100g).
  • It is an excellent source of niacin (14.3mg /100g). It also provides thiamine, riboflavin, and carotene.
  • These seeds are a very good source of phenolic antioxidants [56].
  • Aliv seeds have a high free radical scavenging capacity and thus reduces oxidative stress. For this reason, garden cress seeds help to prevent and treat many diseases like diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, dyslipidemia, cancer, etc., and help to maintain good liver and kidney health [50]. 
  • They contain natural antioxidants like tocopherols, carotenoids, and ascorbic acid [57].
25 Health Benefits of Aliv/Halim/Garden cress seeds 1

Bottom Line

Aliv seeds are a well-known herbal plant from the Vedic era. It has several health benefits and thus it is considered a medicinal plant from ancient times.

Regular intake of these seeds reduces the blood glucose level and decreases cholesterol level. It is good for patients suffering from obesity, diabetes mellitus, and cardiac problems. It improves memory. Since it is rich in antioxidants and nutrients, it is good for our skin and hair. These seeds contain phytoestrogen which helps to regularise irregular periods. It helps to treat menopausal symptoms. There is scientific evidence that these seeds are effective to treat and prevent breast cancer. As they are rich in dietary fiber, garden cress seeds are a good home remedy for constipation.

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Dr. Sagarika Chakraborty was awarded her doctorate in Food and Nutrition from University of Calcutta (C.U.) in 2017. She is an experienced Researcher, working in the field of Food Science for more than 12 years and published papers in international and national journal. She has also presented papers in national conferences.

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