Watercress is a fast growing semi-aquatic or aquatic, perennial plant native to Europe and Asia, and one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by humans.
The hollow stems of watercress will float, the leaf structure is pinnately compound with small green and white flowers which are produced in clusters and are visited frequently by insects.
With watercress, you get that reliable, but not overbearing pepperiness, all bound up in juicy, sappy succulence. Watercress makes sandwiches, rare roast beef lively and fresh.
Providing you have a blender no soup is simpler than watercress.
Watercress is a better source of essential vitamins and minerals than the more commonly used and known superfoods. It contains 15 essential vitamins and minerals.
So why don’t we often only eat it as part of a salad, making it something we almost don’t eat in the winter months, when salads are off the menu?
Why is watercress a superfood?
- It comes from the cabbage family. Botanically, it is related to the mustard garden cress.
- Watercress is full of vitamin C. it contains more vitamin C than an orange. This is very good for your body as it helps in the growth and repair of body tissue. It also assists in the production of collagen.
- Watercress has been eaten for thousands of years. In the 400 BC, Hippocrates grew it in the stream by the hospital, so he could give his patients this healthy plant.
- It is often said that watercress contains more calcium than whole milk! Most greens in the cabbage family have almost three times the amount of calcium as phosphorus. This is very good for people who want to ward off osteoporosis.
- Watercress is rich in phytonutrients, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and lutein. These helps prevent cataracts in old people.
- It is high in iodine. This means it has a strengthening effect on your thyroid gland. Your thyroid gland helps regulate how fast your body uses energy as well as making protein.
- A study in 2010 discovered that eating watercress may inhibit the growth of breast cancer and it is also thought to help defend against lung cancer.
- It has a high level of calcium, which is essential for teeth, hair and bones.
- Watercress contains essential minerals like iron, which is needed for our metabolism and zinc. Zinc helps our body by helping us grow healthy hair, produce insulin to regulate our glucose level and also help to maintain a healthy immune system.
- Watercress contains magnesium which helps to regulate our blood sugar levels and immune system. Magnesium also helps keep our bones strong and helps our body in managing disorders such as hypertension and diabetes.
How do we eat watercress?
Once harvested, watercress does not last for very long, so it is advisable to eat as soon as you can. If it looks wilted when you buy it, sock it in a bowl of ice water. If you must keep it for a few days, store it in the fridge wrapped in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag, or place it in a glass of water like a bouquet of flowers and tented with a plastic bag.
Here is how we eat watercress;
- Puree into soup
- Toss into salad
- Layer in sandwiches
- Fold into a dip or sauce
- Add for garnish
- Blitz into a pesto
- Simply sauté
The Health Benefits of watercress
Let’s check out the Health benefits of watercress see why it is important adding this superfood to our diets.
It reduces your risk of cancer
The national institute of cancer says the contains of watercress may;
- Help protect cells from DNA damage
- Have antiviral and antibacterial benefits
- Inactivate carcinogens
- Induce cell death (apoptosis)
- Have anti-inflammatory properties
- Inhibit tumour blood vessel formation and tumour cell migration ( needed for metastasis)
It protects your eyes
Watercress is an amazing source of eye-loving nutrients such as vitamin A and beta-carotene, and the carotenoids – lutein and zeaxanthin. Making sure to give your body sufficient lutein and zeaxanthin reduces our risk of developing AMD, and extra protection against cataract growth.
Just a cup of raw watercress contains 1961 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin!
Lowers Blood Pressure and takes care of your heart
High levels of lutein and zeaxanthin have been shown to aid with cardiovascular disease, very interesting right!
Lower Cholesterol… seriously
When rats with high cholesterol were given watercress for every day for 30 days, they;
- Decreased their total cholesterol by 37%
- Reduced their triglycerides by 43%
- Raised their HDL or good choleste16%
- Lowered their LDL, or bad cholesterol by 49%
After seeing all those results I may start adding a serving of watercress to my diet.
The health benefits of watercress leaves
- Keeps your bones strong and Healthy
- It is effective in reducing risk of depression
- Watercress leaves are beneficial in reducing risk of cataracts
- It provides relief from pediatric asthma and cold
- Protects against cognitive decline and stroke
- It helps prevent neural tube deficiency in babies
- It reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer
- Helps improve bone health and prevents osteoporosis
Health benefits of watercress juice
Watercress can still be used in the form of juice, on its own or mixed with other herbs and vegetables. Drinking the juices is helpful to you in many ways
- Skin health
- Anti-anaemic Properties
- Healthy hair
- Anti-inflammatory Attributes
- Controls blood sugar level
- Healthy bones
- Relief from cold and cough
- Good for vision
- Hangover treatment
- DNA damage resistance
- Cleansing the body
- Thyroid functioning
- Teeth (treats gum problems)
Benefits of watercress for the skin and hair
We all desire a beautiful healthy skin, don’t we? Well, watercress offers an effective way to get the skin of your dreams.
- It treats skin inflammatory conditions; watercress helps in cleansing the affected area to prevent further infection, purifies your blood within and keeps your skin free from infections.
- Works as an Anti-Aging ingredient
- Protects from skin cancer
- Smoothens and cools the skin
- Prevents hair and scalp infections
- Promotes hair growth
- Good for scalp health
Watercress salad recipe
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Combine the vinegar, pepper and salt in a salad bowl. Whisk in oil slowly. Add watercress and toss with vinaigrette to evenly coat. Serve immediately.
Watercress potato soup
- 3 medium potatoes-chopped with skin, cleaned and well-scrubbed
- 6-7 cups of water/vegetable stock
- 1 chopped onion
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Take a pan and add about 1 tbsp oil. Add the chopped onions and sauté for 1-2 minutes
- Add the potatoes along salt and give it a toss for 1minute
- Add the water/stock. Close the pot and cook until potatoes are tender
- Add watercress to the broth after setting aside few leaves for garnish. Cook for 1 minute until the leaves start wilting lightly
- Use a hand emulsifier to puree the mixture
- Then heat for few more minutes
Serve warm and garnish with few watercress leaves. Add pepper/salt according to taste