Watercress is an aquatic plant. Increased consumption of watercress lowers the risk of obesity, Diabetes and heart disease. Watercress helps improve skin texture, provides energy and helps in weight loss. It also aids in decreasing blood pressure and cancer prevention.
What is a watercress?
Watercress is a perennial plant that thrives in both the sun and water. It grows naturally along streams and other moving rivers. This leafy green thrives in different soil conditions if the soil is moist and nutrient rich.
Watercress is a cruciferous vegetable related to cabbage, broccoli and mustard greens.
Watercress has a spicy flavour and is predominantly used in soups, salads and sandwiches. Watercress, once seen as a weed, is a nutrient-rich vegetable often overlooked.
This kale cousin has a long history of use as a tasty, nutrient-dense herb and a homoeopathic treatment for several conditions.
The leaves and shoots of the plant are grown for their culinary and medicinal benefits. Watercress can be harvested all through the winter, and the flavour is at its peak during the cooler months of the year. The flavour of watercress often diminishes after blooming.
The nutritional profile of watercress
Nutrients in one cup (34 grammes) of watercress.
- Energy – 4 Kcal
- Carbohydrate – 0.4 g
- Fat – 0 g
- Protein – 0.8 g
- Fibre – 0.2 g
- Vitamin C – 16% of DV
- Vitamin A – 6% of DV
- Vitamin K – 71% of DV
- Manganese – 4% of DV
- Calcium – 3% of DV.
Health benefits of watercress
Watercress contains strong phytonutrients that help prevent cancer and inhibits the recurrence of stomach, breast and lung cancer.
The vegetable has a high chlorophyll content that aids in reducing the carcinogenic effects of foods that are grilled at extremely high temperatures due to the presence of heterocyclic amines.
Lowers blood pressure
Watercress has dietary nitrates that are present naturally, like any other leafy vegetable. Nitric oxide is essential for controlling vascular functions.
According to a study, those who take nitrate supplements or eat foods high in nitrate have lower blood pressure, which suggests that nitrate can effectively regulate hypertension.
Watercress is a potassium-containing vegetable which helps reduce blood pressure by reducing the effects of sodium.
Vitamin C, found in watercress, helps lower the chance of developing cataracts. Watercress has several nutrients that help boost eyesight.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Watercress is a good source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and several phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. Omega-3 fatty acids are mainly present as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Adding watercress to the diet can be an excellent way to increase the intake of omega-3 fatty acids and protect against heart disease. Alpha-linolenic acid must be transformed into active forms of omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Including watercress in the diet can help acquire nutrients.
Reduces risk of colon cancer
Watercress is a cruciferous and leafy green vegetable, earning it a spot on the list of foods fighting cancer. This is due to its high vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content and extremely low calorie, fat, carbohydrate and sodium content.
Watercress contains nutritional components like isothiocyanates, which are naturally occurring chemicals that are present in many cruciferous vegetables. Recent research indicates that these substances may have strong anti-cancer effects and may even help stop the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Strengthens teeth and bones
Though dairy is one of the most popular sources of calcium, leafy greens also offer a significant amount of calcium per serving. Watercress is a wonderful source of magnesium, vitamin K and a good amount of calcium, which can assist in maintaining strong, healthy bones.
Osteoporosis, a condition brought on by a slow decline in bone density, can be prevented with calcium. While magnesium affects the development of bone cells, vitamin K can support maintaining calcium levels in the bone to support bone strength.
Promotes heart health
Due to its nutritional profile, watercress is a heart-healthy vegetable. It has the nutrients listed below, which can improve heart health.
- Fibre – Fibre helps control blood sugar, lowers blood pressure and lowers high cholesterol levels.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C aids in reducing inflammation, which can be a factor in developing several chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease or cancer.
- Vitamin K2 – A type of vitamin that is required to make the proteins involved in blood clotting.
- Manganese – The mineral manganese aids in maintaining normal blood pressure levels.
Helps to treat Diabetes
Little research exists to back up this assertion. According to a study, watercress is good for maintaining blood sugar levels.
Watercress extracts were discovered to reduce cholesterol and glucose levels in a study on diabetic rats. Those with Diabetes may benefit from these effects if they are duplicated in humans.
An increased risk of vascular diseases, such as hypertension and neuropathy, is also generally observed in diabetics. This can be improved because of the nitric oxide in watercress.
Other Diabetes consequences, such as blindness and limb amputations, can also be reduced by nitric oxide.
Boosts immune function
According to a fish study, watercress helped boost the immune system. Vitamins A, B1, B2, and C, folic acid, iron, glucosinolates, and calcium are nutrients in watercress that help to strengthen the immune system.
The immune system benefits from the vegetable’s vitamin C content. Around 24% of the daily requirement for vitamin C is provided by 34 grammes (1 cup) of watercress. White blood cell formation is promoted by vitamin C, which has been shown to improve immunological function.
Helps skin and hair health
The phytonutrients in foods like watercress can have a significant positive impact on the condition of the skin, hair and nails.
Superfoods like watercress are a rich source of nutrients like calcium, magnesium and potassium, which are essential for the health of the skin, hair and nails. Watercress can aid in adequate hydration as it contains a lot of water.
Accelerates athletic performance
Improvement in sports performance is seen due to high nitrate content.
The body converts nitrates into nitric oxide, which helps widen the blood vessels and increases the amount of oxygen-rich blood that reaches muscles. Due to this, watercress might be a great food to eat before or after exercise.
Improves brain health
The health benefits of watercress could also help the brain. Watercress has a high vitamin K concentration, which improves brain function by promoting the growth of new neurons. By inhibiting the development of amyloid plaques in the brain, it may also help in the prevention of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Ways to add watercress to the diet
Watercress cooks more quickly than most other greens because of its softness. It adds a mild spice and tangy flavour to the dish prepared with watercress.
The following ways can help us include this vegetable in the diet.
- Make it as a salad – Include watercress in vegetable salads. One might enjoy it with a delicious sprinkle of pepper.
- Eat as a wrap or sandwich – Grilled cheese is a good combination for a wrap or sandwich.
- Eggs- Add the vegetable to the omelette or egg scramble.
- Vegetable juice – Make a morning juice with watercress.
- As a sandwich garnish, watercress gives sandwiches an extra boost of flavour and nutrients. Try sandwiching it between preferred bread or vegetables, such as cucumber slices or turkey and avocado on whole wheat toast.
- Watercress is a wonderful addition to creamy vegetable soups like broccoli or potato soup. It can also be added just before serving to stir-fries to preserve the leaves’ bright green.
Side effects and allergies
Interfere with thyroid health
Goitrogens are present in most cruciferous vegetables, including watercress, that could interfere with the metabolism of iodine. There may be thyroid problems due to this interference because iodine is an important vitamin for thyroid health.
Limiting the amount of watercress (and other cruciferous vegetables) a person consumes and seeking medical advice are recommended for those with thyroid problems.
Increased risk of stomach cancer
High quantities of nitrite are present in watercress which is dangerous. An increased risk of stomach cancer has been associated with high nitrate levels, though not necessarily from watercress specifically. This risk is notably high when there is also a poor intake of foods high in vitamin C.
Although watercress does contain vitamin C, one should also consume a lot of other vitamin C-rich foods, such as bell peppers and strawberries, to lower the risk of developing anaemia.
Watercress, a cruciferous vegetable and a leafy green, has a strong reputation for boosting health. The vegetable offers low calories in addition to having a high fibre content and high vitamin A, K and C content.
It is associated with several health benefits. Watercress is an excellent addition to soups, salads, stir-fries and sandwiches.
Can you eat watercress raw?
Yes, watercress may taste slightly bitter when eaten raw. Raw watercress can be added to vegetable salad.
What is the right dosage of watercress?
The ideal watercress dosage will vary according to an individual’s age, health and other factors. There is limited information on how much watercress should be taken. A doctor can prescribe the proper dosage of watercress to an individual.
What are the side effects of eating watercress?
Taking watercress, while having stomach or intestinal ulcers is not advisable because it could make them worse. Also, during pregnancy, it could lead to some major problems. So expectant mothers must stay away from it.
Is watercress blood thinner?
Vitamin K is present in high concentrations in watercress. The body uses vitamin K to aid in blood clotting. The drug warfarin is used to prevent blood clots. Watercress might reduce the effectiveness of warfarin by promoting blood clotting.