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Why I Add Watercress to my Diet

ultimate guide Watercress benefits

Watercress Ultimate Guide

Watercress is a dark leafy green medical plant. It has been used as a crop and as medicine for more than 2000 years. It tastes like strong pepper. Fresh watercress is used in salads. This aquatic plant belongs to the Brassicaceae family. Watercress plants grow in ponds, lakes, and slow-moving water from Europe to Asia. It is good for health as well as good for the water ecosystem. 

Different research proves that watercress has chemopreventive, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant qualities. It contains different nutrients and phytochemicals which make it healthy to have a strong immune system.  Chlorophyll and carotenoids are pigments that contain antioxidant significance.

The healing features of carotenoids help to reduce cancer risk and enhance the immune system. It is also very effective in cardiovascular disease and against an aging-eye problem. The parts of the plant that grow above the ground are used to make medicine.

Some other names of watercress are Agriao, Berro, Berros, Indian cress, Cresson, Scurvy Grass, and Watercress.

It was called a “powerhouse fruit and vegetable”, which is good to decrease the occurrence of chronic illness and is a rich source of both essential and non-essential nutrients. These NCBI Papers 1, 2 give further watercress detail.

Watercress Uses

It is used to treat acute bronchitis (short-term inflammation and swelling of bronchi).

It is also useful in flu, cough, baldness, earaches, and sexual arousal.

It can also be helpful in constipation, hair loss, scabies, and arthritis, and many other such conditions.

It can be helpful in, skin issues like warts, itchy skin infections (scabies), and eczema (atopic dermatitis).

 There are many other such uses of watercress but these are not backed by any good scientific research.

Watercress Benefits

Watercress contains high nutrients like vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals which are good for health. It contains nutrients like 

Good source of vitamin A

It is rich in vitamin A and is also called retinol which improves your vision by keeping the retina healthy.

Rich in Vitamin C

It is also rich in vitamin C which makes your immune strong and heals injuries. It also helps to produce collagen.

Other nutrition

A person can get some other nutrients like Vitamin K, vitamin E, thiamin, phosphorus, vitamin B-6, and riboflavin from a cup of watercress.

Bone Health

It is rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium which support bone health.  The deficiency of calcium may weaken your bones and can lead to osteoporosis. Magnesium and potassium help to impact skeletal health indirectly by supporting bone cell growth.

Reduce Cancer Risk

It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. It contains carotenoids and beta-carotene which help to reduce the production of free radicals in the body. These antioxidant properties of watercress lower the risk of cancer, cell damage, and other chronic diseases such as arthritis.

Good for Heart Health

Carotenoids in watercress are also good to support heart health. It helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol level. It is beneficial in lowering the risk of strokes and heart attacks and supports heart health.

Treating Diabetes

Antioxidant compound alpha-lipoic acid in watercress is good in controlling glucose levels and prevents diabetics from oxidative stress-induced changes.

It is good to decrease nerve damage in diabetics and treat diabetic neuropathy as approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Provide Dietary Nitrates

Blood Pressure It contains high levels of dietary nitrate if taken with leafy green vegetables like beetroot and increases nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps to lower blood pressure. (research done in 2019 on rats).

Athletic performance (1As per some other studies, high doses of nitric oxide in humans may reduce the amount of oxygen required during exercise and help to improve athletic performance. However, another study said that a moderate amount doesn’t affect exercise performance.

May Help Weight Loss

Although no research supports such a thing, It is rich in nutrition and with only 4 % calories may help to support your weight loss diet plan.

Protect Eye Health

Carotenoids contain antioxidant compounds called lutein and zeaxanthin which are essential for healthy eyes. They help protect eyes from damage caused by blue light. These compounds are also very good in reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

Best to add in your Meal

  • You can make a watercress salad to make it more nutritious.
  • Add in your egg scramble or omelet
  • Good to replace it with lettuce and make watercress sandwiches
  • Use chopped watercress in pasta sauce.
  • It’s very delicious if you have your cress soup.
  • You can add in your smoothie or juice.
  • Use as a healthy topping for any dish.

Side Effects or Risk Factor

Blood Clotting

Watercress is a rich source of vitamin K. People taking blood-thinning medication like Warfarin should keep an eye on the intake amount of watercress. A sudden increase in vitamin K can cause complications.

Stomach Cancer

High nitrate in watercress can cause problems if exposed to bacteria. These nitrates then become nitrites and can cause stomach cancer. To avoid chances of bacterial contamination, consume the juices or smoothies of watercress immediately.

Refrigerate Juices or smoothies  

It is good to be careful while refrigerating juices or smoothies including watercress. 

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Pregnant women should not take medicinal amounts of watercress. It may cause menstruation and may lead to miscarriage. Its effects are unknown when breastfeeding but it is better to avoid and keep yourself and your child safe.

Avoid giving it to Child

It is not safe to give it to your children as medicine, especially under 4 years.

Stomach Ulcer 

Try to avoid it if you have a stomach or intestinal ulcer.

Kidney Disease

In case of kidney disease,(1,2) avoid using watercress as it is likely to be unsafe.

 

 

Dosing

There is not sufficient research available to determine the dosage of watercress. The dose of watercress may vary according to several conditions like the health and age of the user. Not all herbal and natural products are safe to use regularly. That’s why it is better to take advice from a pharmacist or doctor before taking it regularly or to treat any medical condition.

Watercress Recipes

Watercress Toasted Almond Salad

Ingredient

Almonds ¼ cup sliced

Extra virgin olive oil 3 ½ tablespoon 

Sherry vinegar 1 ½ tablespoon

Minced Shallot 1 tablespoon

Ground Pepper freshly ground as per taste

Kosher salt as per taste

Watercress (without stems) 2 bunches or ¾ pounds

Method

  1. Preheat oven at 3500
  2. Toast the almond in a pie tray for 6 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add vinegar, shallot, and olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle salt and pepper and mix well.
  5. Add watercress and toasted almonds.
  6. Toss all the ingredients to coat well.
  7. Ready to eat.

Watercress and Mango Salad with Ginger

Ingredients

Canola oil 2 tablespoon

Fresh ginger 2 tablespoons of peeled and minced

Fresh lime juice 2 tablespoon

Garlic ½ teaspoon minced

Unseasoned rice vinegar 1 tablespoon

Chili paste or Tabasco ½ teaspoon or as per taste

Asian sesame oil ½ teaspoon

Extra virgin olive oil ¼ cup 

Sugar a pinch

Salt and freshly ground pepper as per taste

Hass avocado 1 cut into dice

Mango 1 cut into dice

Red onion 1 small, thin sliced

Watercress 3 6-ounce bunches (stems discarded) almost  

Scallion 1 thinly slice

Cilantro 2 tablespoons finely chopped

Method

  1. Heat the canola oil in a small pan. Add ginger and cook for 2 minutes or until golden and fragrant over medium heat.
  2. Now put the ginger in a bowl and let it cool.
  3. Add lime juice, chili paste, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, and garlic in the bowl.
  4. Whisk it slowly and add olive oil.
  5. Now add salt and pepper and mix with scallion and cilantro.
  6. Transfer it to a large bowl and add watercress and onion.
  7. Now toss it with mango and avocado.
  8. Mix gently and serve.

Watercress Soup

Ingredients

Olive oil 1 tablespoon

Celery 1 small stick

Potato 350 g, peeled and diced

Milk 150ml

Small onion 1 chopped

Nutmeg a pinch

Lemon juice as per taste

Freshly ground pepper as per taste

Salt as per taste

Chicken/vegetable stock 600 ml

Watercress 3 bundle

Method

  1. Take a large pan. Add oil and put over medium heat.
  2. Now add onion and celery and sauté for five minutes or until lightly golden.
  3.  Add potato and pour the stock in the pan and bring it to boil.
  4. Now cover the pan and simmer it for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  5. Now add watercress and cover the pan. Let it cook for a further 5 minutes.
  6. When the watercress is wilted then pour the soup into a blender and blend it until smooth.
  7. Now transfer the soup to a pan and add milk, lime juice, nutmeg, and seasoning. 
  8. Reheat the cress soup.
  9. Serve with crusty bread. 

Cucumber watercress sandwich

Ingredients

Cucumber 32 peeled and thin sliced

Unsalted butter 4 tablespoons (room temperature)

Sandwich bread 8 thin slices (white)

Watercress leaves ½ cup, add more for garnish

Coarse salt as per taste

You can add ½ cup of radish, onion, and sunflower sprouts to add more taste.

Method

  1. Pat dry the peeled cucumber surface with a paper towel to remove extra moisture.
  2. Spread the butter on one side of each bread slice.
  3. Now spread the watercress leaves evenly over the slices.
  4. Layer 4 bread slices with cucumber slices.
  5. Now put some salt and sprout on the cucumber
  6.  Put the other 4 buttered slices over it and cut as per your choice.
  7. Serve it on a plate and garnish it with watercress leaves.

 

Watercress Juice

Ingredients

Watercress 1 large bunch

Green apples 2 medium size

Lime 1

Celery stalks 2

Method

  1. Take all the ingredients and put them in the blender.
  2. You can peel the lime or you can grate it to add a more sour taste.
  3. Blend the juice and pour in a glass.
  4. You can add some ice cubes.

Watercress FAQ’s

Watercress VS Spinach

Watercress and spinach both are rich in vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. 

As compared to watercress, spinach is a rich source of iron and dietary fiber.

 It contains more folate and niacin as compared to watercress. On the other hand, watercress contains more pantothenic acid than spinach.

Watercress is richer in calcium than spinach.

What are watercress Substitutes?

If you are unable to buy watercress or it’s out of season. There are multiple alternatives to watercress. You can replace your watercress recipe with any of the following substitutes.

Arugula As it tastes like pepper and contains it is the closest match to watercress. 

Nasturtium Leaves In case you are short of watercress then you can buy these leaves as they contain similar flavors.

Radish Sprouts Radish sprouts belong to the same family of watercress. It has an almost similar look and taste like pepper. 

There are some other alternatives and watercress substitutes of watercress are radicchio, kale, dandelion green, and endive. 

How to eat watercress seeds?

You can consume watercress seeds by roasting them and save them in an airtight container. You can sprinkle it on your soup but always keep an eye on the in-take amount of it.

 

Conclusion

Watercress is the best nutritional pack but the dosage amount is not yet decided to avoid any side effects. It is recommended to take advice from your health advisor to maximize its benefits. Give us your feedback and tell us how you use it in your food? Which recipe did you try?

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