Watercress is a powerful, pungent and peppery food, which offers many possibilities of consumption. It is particularly appreciated in soups, salads and stews. Traditionally grown watercress is green and has a characteristic peppery flavor, similar to that of mustard. It became a cash crop in England around 1808, valued for its flavor and nutrient density.
Typically grown in pure spring water, watercress has been considered a superfood for centuries. It is known that Hippocrates set up his first hospital near a stream, where watercress grows best, so that his patients could be treated with this plant, and Greek soldiers were given watercress as a tonic to purify the blood before leaving. in combat.
Wondering where to buy watercress? This delicious vegetable is available at most grocery stores and farmers’ markets, right alongside other leafy greens like spinach and kale.
If you have some watercress seeds, you can also choose to grow it at home. There are plenty of guides online on how to grow watercress, even without access to your own river or pond. Watercress is spicier than spinach due to its mustard background. It is excellent in salads, alone or mixed with other green vegetables.
It can also add a zest of flavor to sandwiches and can be pureed and added to soups for an extra kick of spiciness. It even pairs well with melons, nuts, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, leeks and corn. You can also try taking out the juicer and making a glass of watercress juice. With its mild and refreshing taste, watercress goes particularly well with fruits such as kiwi, apples or pineapple.
Watercress is a cruciferous vegetable, this cousin of kale has a long history as a deliciously nutritious herb and as a natural remedy for many ailments. Plus, it’s often served in salads, added to sandwiches, and enjoyed as a lightly steamed side dish.
Why exactly is it such a healthy food?
Not only does research show that this nutritious cruciferous vegetable may be linked to a reduced risk of cancer, but it may also help lower blood pressure, fight inflammation, support bone health and more. Watercress is a perennial vegetable that grows naturally along waterways, thriving in both sun and water. This leafy green thrives particularly well in variable soil conditions, as long as the soil remains saturated with water. The leaves and shoots are cultivated for their culinary and medicinal uses. Although its flavor is best during cooler times of the year, watercress can be harvested throughout the winter. However, after flowering, the flavor of watercress usually decreases. Watercress is closely related to other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale. It is also very common and can be found in the fruit and vegetable section of most supermarkets alongside other vegetables.
Keep in mind that it is important to wash it thoroughly before cooking or consuming it, as it may contain harmful parasites and pathogens due to its growth in nearby stagnant water.
Benefits of watercress
Thanks to its impressive nutritional profile, watercress has been linked to a number of health benefits. In fact, adding this green leaf to your diet may help protect against disease, fight inflammation, and promote better health.
1. May Help Reduce Colon Cancer Risk
As a leafy green and cruciferous vegetable, watercress has secured a spot on the list of cancer-fighting foods. Indeed, it is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, while being very low in calories, fats, carbohydrates and sodium. It also contains beneficial compounds, like isothiocyanates, which are natural chemicals found in many cruciferous vegetables. Promising research shows that these compounds may possess powerful cancer-fighting properties and may even help block the growth and spread of cancer cells. Other studies have noted that these compounds, when broken down, can help protect cells from DNA damage by deactivating carcinogens. These results suggest that this vegetable, along with other cruciferous vegetables, may help prevent and fight other forms of cancer, including liver, lung and breast cancer.
2. Contains Helpful Omega-3s
Most of us are familiar with foods that contain omega-3s, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel. However, did you know that you can get your fix of these heart-healthy fats by increasing your intake of leafy green vegetables? While watercress contains a variety of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, it also contains a relatively high proportion of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), primarily in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Although alpha-linolenic acid must be converted into active forms of omega-3 fatty acids – including eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid – adding watercress to your daily diet can be an effective strategy for increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids and protect you against heart disease if you do not eat fish regularly.
3. Provides Beneficial Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Cruciferous vegetables are anti-inflammatory foods that contain antiviral and antibacterial effects that can help reduce inflammation. In fact, research published in Pharmaceutical Biology showed that giving subjects an extract of watercress was effective in reducing swelling and tissue damage. Watercress is also high in antioxidants, which can help neutralize harmful free radicals to fight inflammation at the cellular level. These antioxidants play a key role in maintaining immune function, improving eye health, promoting better blood sugar control and more.
4. Lower Blood Pressure
Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium all play central roles in regulating blood pressure levels. Watercress is an excellent source of calcium and magnesium and could potentially help lower blood pressure levels. According to a study conducted by King’s College London British Heart Foundation Centre, watercress and similar foods have been shown to benefit blood vessel health and may help lower blood pressure, block platelet aggregation and even improve endothelial dysfunction to protect against heart disease.
5. Promotes healthy skin, hair and nails
The phytonutrients found in foods like watercress can provide great health benefits for your hair, skin, and nails. That’s because superfoods like watercress are loaded with nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and potassium, all of which are essential for the health of your hair, skin, and nails. Thanks to its high water content, watercress can also promote good hydration.
6. Strengthens bones and teeth
Although dairy products are one of the most well-known sources of calcium, leafy green vegetables also provide a healthy dose of calcium in every serving. Along with providing a good amount of calcium, watercress is also a good source of magnesium and vitamin K, both of which can help maintain strong, healthy bones. Calcium can help prevent osteoporosis, a disease caused by a gradual loss of bone density. Vitamin K, on the other hand, can help maintain calcium stores in bones to keep them strong, and magnesium has an impact on bone cell formation.
One cup (about 34 grams) of chopped fresh watercress contains about:
0.4 grams of carbohydrates
0.8 grams of protein
0.2 grams of fiber
85 micrograms of vitamin K (106% DV)
14.6 milligrams of vitamin C (24% of the daily value)
1085 IU Vitamin A (22% Daily Value)
40.8 milligrams of calcium (4% of the daily value)
0.1 milligram manganese (4% of daily intake).
Each serving also contains 7.8 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and 4.1 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids.