10 Great Reasons to Include Watercress in Your Diet

Watercress is an edible aquatic plant and is one of the oldest leaf vegetables used as food by humans. It is a close relation to cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts.

Today, the plant is eaten as a vegetable in a variety of foods and salads. More importantly however, researchers have started uncovering the amazing health benefits possessed by the dark green leafy plant. As a result, it is quickly becoming the newest superfood on the block. If you are yet to acquaint yourself with this peppery flavored vegetable, here are 10 amazing reasons you should start eating watercress.



1. Nutrient-Dense 

There is a reason why watercress is being referred to as a superfood, it is packed full with nutrients. When it comes to minerals, researchers have found iron, calcium, folic acid, manganese and iodine. As for vitamins there are A, C, K, D, B12 and B6 among others. It is also regarded as an excellent source of antioxidants. A diet with plenty of watercress will provide you with numerous nutrients and amazing health benefits.

2. Anti-Cancer Properties 

While there are many foods and herbs that are claimed to protect against or heal cancer, watercress has been scientifically proven to do both. The latest research has revealed that the plant contains a certain compound (DIM) that can protect healthy tissue during cancer treatment. It is this same compound that provides protection against various types of cancers.
A diet high in watercress has been shown to protect against colon cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma. If you are already suffering from cancer, eating watercress can slow down its progress and potentially cause remission when combined with other treatments.

3. Eye Health 

A single serving of watercress provides your body with 336mg of vitamin A. This is equivalent to 42% of your recommended daily intake. Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is a very important vitamin for the health of the eyes.

It is found in the retina, where it is makes up part of a protein called rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is necessary for good vision. For people who are getting older, a plentiful supply of vitamin A protects the eyes from macular degeneration associated with old age.

Apart from eye health, vitamin A is also good for your immune system, cell protection and development of red blood cells.

4. Heart Health 

The cardiovascular system benefits greatly from several nutrients found in watercress. In particular, two types of carotenoids, zeaxanthin and lutein, promote good heart health. In studies, individuals who had more of these two carotenoids in the blood showed less build-up and clogging in the arteries. This protects the arteries and heart from damage. Other studies have shown that higher levels of lutein in the blood is linked to lower risks of heart attacks in individuals.
Another important point to note is that zeaxanthin and lutein are also good for your eyes. Like Vitamin A, they also protect against macular degeneration.

5. Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Watercress is a major source of vitamin C. A single serving of the vegetable provides 50mg of ascorbic acid. This makes up a whopping 83% of the recommended daily intake. For those who cannot access fruits, watercress is an excellent alternative for vitamin C.

One of the roles of vitamin C is as an antioxidant. This means that it protects cells from damage by free radicals. This prevents infections, cancer and various other diseases. Vitamin C is also an immune booster, promoting your body’s ability to heal and fight pathogens.

Note that the body cannot store Vitamin C. This means that for you to reap the benefits, you must make watercress (and other vitamin C rich foods) a daily part of your diet.

6. Lowering Blood Pressure 

A diet low in minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium creates a bigger risk for the development of high blood pressure. Mineral supplements are not the best answer to a low-mineral diet. Watercress on the other hand, is packed full of minerals that can reduce blood pressure to normal levels.

The three most important minerals for healthy blood pressure are magnesium, potassium and calcium. All three are found in watercress.

7. Diabetes Treatment 

One of the many antioxidants found in watercress is alpha-lipoic acid. If you regularly eat watercress, alpha-lipoic acid acts to increase insulin sensitivity, lower glucose levels and protect cells from free radicals. All these actions are very beneficial to people suffering from diabetes. With repeated consumption, you can manage to bring your condition under control.

8. Bone Health 

A single cup of watercress has enough vitamin K to supply you with all the required daily intake amount. Vitamin K is well known for its properties of strengthening bones and teeth. Inadequate intake of Vitamin K is associated with weaker bones and a higher incidence of bone fractures.

Vitamin K improves the absorption of calcium from food, modifies bone proteins to make the bones stronger and reduces excessive elimination of calcium from the body through urination. Watercress is itself a good source of calcium, a mineral that is crucial to proper development and health of bones.

Regular consumption of watercress would be especially good for aging individuals who have started experiencing bone weakness. But even younger people should eat it to ensure that they go into old age with their bones still strong.

9. Low-Calorie and Low-Fat 

One cup of chopped watercress (34 grams) contains only 4 calories, 0 fat and 0 cholesterol. This means that you can eat plenty of the vegetable without worrying about calorie intake or eating too much fat. It makes watercress one of the best foods for people who are trying to lose weight. The fact that it also contains plenty of fiber makes it even more effective for weight loss.

10. Versatility 

Now that you know some of the greatest benefits of watercress, how do you get these benefits? Fortunately, there are numerous ways you can use watercress. This versatility is appealing to most people.

For one, you can use it in salads. Simply cut off the stems and dry with a paper towel. It is best used when fresh although you can store it in a closed container in a refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can also use watercress in a sandwich. Alternatively, use it to add flavor to various foods including meat, smoothies, sauce and soups.


Source(s):

thescienceofeating.com

listnutrition.com

 

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