Watercress is a type of semi-aquatic perennial herb that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It’s native to Europe and Asia. Watercress is regarded as one of the oldest leaf vegetables consumed by human beings. It’s cultivated for its delicate flavor and its powerful medicinal and aphrodisiac properties.
Watercress is usually found in moist environments. It thrives in slow-running streams and rivers across Asia and America. It’s characterized by its round leaves and unique, peppery flavor. In cooking, only the tenderest leaves of the watercress will do. The flowers – though edible – has a bitter flavor. That’s why it’s not usually eaten.
Apart from adding a peppery flavor to many dishes, watercress has a lot of other uses too. The plant is collected and used to treat a wide range of health problems. The leaves are juiced along with other fruits and veggies to make a vitamin-packed drink.
Watercress Nutritional Benefits
This humble plant is loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and essential vitamins. It’s rich in vitamin C, folate, potassium, phosphorus, and iron. It’s also a great source of iodine and calcium. In fact, watercress has more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach! Finally, watercress contains moderate amounts of vitamins B1, B2, copper, zinc, and manganese.
Watercress also contains thyoglycosides. This is a class of glycosides that contains sulfur. It’s a mild anti-coagulant that prevents thrombosis.
Health Benefits of Watercress
Watercress is traditionally used to treat anemia. That’s because it’s packed with iron. Iron is an essential nutrient that aids in the synthesis of hemoglobin. Together with folic acid, iron is a key component in the maturation of red blood cells in the bone marrow. But the body cannot absorb iron without vitamin C. Watercress happens to be loaded with vitamin C too!
If you suffer from chronic diseases caused by inflammation, boost your intake of watercress. This vegetable is packed with vitamin C, an anti-inflammatory agent. It strengthens the immune system and protects from common colds and flu. Vitamin C also cuts the risk of gout and rheumatism. It also works as an antioxidant to restore skin’s clarity and suppleness!
Protects From Cancer
Watercress is a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are plant-based compounds that fight damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are drawn to healthy cells. They penetrate cell walls and destroy the cells from within. This causes oxidative stress that leads to various diseases – including cancer. Eating watercress cuts the risk of developing cancer and most types of degenerative diseases.
Regulate Blood Sugar Level
Watercress works to reduce blood sugar level too! It’s traditionally used to prevent high blood glucose due to its hypoglycemic effects. Watercress is also packed with soluble fiber. Clinical tests show that soluble fiber reduces the absorption of carbohydrates in the intestines. Boosting your consumption of watercress is an excellent way to manage diabetes.
Watercress offers a balanced range of vitamins and minerals that promote stronger, denser bones. These nutrients include calcium, magnesium, manganese and Vitamin A, C and K. Together, they help build stronger, thicker bones. Watercress also replenishes lost nutrients that lead to weak bones.
Did you know watercress is high in phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin? These compounds do not just work to protect from free radical damage. They also work together with vitamin A and zinc to promote better eyesight!