Watercress is a fantastic food that tends to fly beneath the radar in the produce section, often ignored in favor of other better known leafy greens like spinach or kale. Now, of course, spinach and kale are both amazing for your health, but the often overlooked nutritional powerhouse that is watercress is a superfood star in the making. If you haven’t tried it, here are eight reasons to put it on your grocery shopping list.
Watercress truly earns the title of superfood because it is chock full of nutrients. It’s loaded with a long list of vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, folate, manganese, iodine, vitamins A, C, K, D, B12, and B6.
Watercress is a cruciferous vegetable and along with its cruciferous cousins like kale and broccoli, has been shown by research to protect against cancer. In fact, a diet high in watercress and other cruciferous vegetables has been shown to be protective against colon cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and prostate cancer.
Watercress is a rich source of beta-carotene, a precursor for Vitamin A, which is a very important vitamin for the health of the eyes. It is found in the retina where it is part of a protein called rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is necessary for good vision, especially night vision and helps protects the eye from macular degeneration associated with aging. Watercress also contains the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein that are also protective against macular degeneration.
The carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein that are very protective for eye health also promote good heart health. Studies have shown that individuals who had an abundance of these two carotenoids in their blood showed less plaque build-up and clogging in the arteries. Other studies have indicated that higher levels of lutein in the blood is linked to lower risks of heart attacks in individuals.
Eating oranges isn’t the only way to get your vitamin C. Watercress is a fantastic source of vitamin C! Because vitamin C is as an antioxidant, it helps protects cells from damage by free radicals. Vitamin C is also a powerful immune booster, promoting your body’s ability to heal and fight pathogens. Good to know, especially since its flu season!
Lowering Blood Pressure
If your diet is low in minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium, this can put you at a bigger risk for the development of high blood pressure. Isn’t it great to know that all three of these important minerals are found in watercress?
Did you know that a single cup of watercress has enough vitamin K to supply you with all of the recommended daily intake? Vitamin K plays a role in strengthening bones and teeth. Vitamin K also helps to improve the absorption of calcium from food, modifies bone proteins to make the bones stronger and helps to reduce excessive elimination of calcium from the body through urination. By the way, watercress is a great source of calcium.
Low-Calorie and Low-Fat
Since 1 cup of chopped watercress contains only 4 calories, 0 fat and 0 cholesterol, you can eat plenty of it without worrying about caloric intake or eating too much fat. Hello salad! This makes watercress one of the best foods to eat if you are trying to lose weight. Also, it also contains plenty of fiber which makes it even more effective for weight loss.
Along with all of those amazing health benefits, did I mention that watercress is extremely versatile? My favorite thing to do is to add it to my salads, yum! You can also use watercress in sandwiches, soups, and even smoothies. But, be sure to eat it up quickly because it stays fresh for about 4 days in a closed container in the fridge. To your good health!