WATERCRESS HEALTH BENEFITS, SIDE EFFECTS, AND NUTRITIONAL FACTS
The watercress with the botanical name Nasturtium officinale is one of the oldest vegetables humans have consumed for millennia. For many years, this aquatic plant has been cultivated and used as food and medicine by many people. Native to Asia and Europe, this plant can be seen near slow-moving streams or springs.
It is important that they are washed thoroughly before they are consumed. This is because they grow in water and microorganisms can easily be found on the leaves. For many, the watercress is a plant of medical value. The health benefits of consuming the watercress are too numerous to count.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF WATERCRESS
- RICH SUPPLY OF VITAMIN C
The watercress is very rich in Vitamin C. In fact, it contains more Vitamin C than an orange does. Its rich supply of Vitamin C helps the body in preventing various diseases while maintaining blood levels.
The Vitamin C is also needed by the body to carry out its function at optimal levels. It helps reduce the risk of blood cell damage and can repair brain tissues.
- CAN PREVENT CANCER
Watercress possesses some phytonutrients that can help in preventing cancer. It can increase some substances in the body which can stop cancer (such as breast cancer) or prevent it from returning.
A compound called 3, 3’-diindolylmethane (DIM) has been shown to be able to exert some protective effects against cancer and it protects tissues in the body during treatment of cancer. A study was carried out on rats at George Town University. There were two groups of rats and each group was given a lethal dose of radiation. For two weeks, one class was treated with a daily injection of DIM while the other class was left untreated. At the 30-day mark, 50% of those rats that took DIM were still alive while all those who were left untreated died.
Another compound known as sulforaphane has been found to inhibit the enzyme histone deacetylase (HDAC), which is believed to be involved in cancer cell progression. For foods that contain sulforaphane, this ability to inhibit HDAC could make them an important part of cancer treatment. Sulforaphane is now being studied as to how it can help against cancer and these research has shown that people who eat 80 grams of watercress daily are less likely to have cancer.
- BOOST IMMUNITY
Watercress contains antioxidants which help them fight against diseases in the body caused by virus, fungi, or bacteria. They remove free radicals from the body and prevent inflammation, thereby boosting the immunity of the individual.
- IMPROVES THYROID GLAND FUNCTION
When there is an overproduction of thyroid hormone in the body, a person can suffer from diseases such as goiter or hypothyroidism. Watercress, when eaten raw, helps reduce the secretion of these hormones. You can also steam the watercress so as to extract all of its nutrients.
- HELPS TO LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
Minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium are believed to lower blood pressure by initiating the release of sodium out of the body, helping the arteries to dilate. It has been also that people who consume food that is low in minerals are more likely to have high blood pressure than those who consume food rich in minerals.
Watercress is a healthy source of minerals and can help lower the blood pressure of individuals. You might not get the same health benefits, however, if you take minerals in supplement form.
- HELPS PREVENT HANGOVERS
Watercress can stimulate the production of enzymes which help in cleansing the body system and detoxifying the liver, thus reducing the effect of the hangover after drinking excessively.
- RICH IN FOLATE
Folate is a nutrient that helps in the daily body maintenance and preventing birth defects in newborn babies. Usually, the folate level in the body can be affected by alcohol. Hence, eating foods rich in folate, such as watercress can help the body prevent and maintain certain conditions in the body.
It has been found that when the folate levels in the body are low, it increases the risk of depression. Adding watercress to your daily diet can help reduce the risk of getting depressed.
It has been found that food which contains folate are effective in fighting stroke. Eating watercress can reduce the risk of getting a stroke and can be used for a person who has a stroke.
Additionally, folate can help in the development of the embryo during pregnancy.
- PREVENTS IRON DEFICIENCY (ANAEMIA)
Watercress is very rich in iron which the body needs to produce hemoglobin. The hemoglobin helps to increase the production of red blood cells in the body. For people who have lost a lot of blood or are genetically iron deficient, consuming watercress can go a long way in reducing it.
- PROMOTES WEIGHT LOSS
The calorie content of watercress is low, making it very easy for people who wish to lose weight. In addition, watercress contains dietary fiber and amino acids, which makes you feel full, preventing casual snacking.
- IT POSSESSES PURIFYING EFFECTS
The watercress plant can increase diuresis, which will help remove toxic materials from the body. It also possesses cleansing agents which are needed in order to purify the body.
- MAINTAINS HEALTHY BONES
When there is a low intake of Vitamin K in the body, there is a higher risk of bone rupture. Watercress, however, is rich in Vitamin K and can limit the risk of your bone rupturing. When one takes a sufficient amount of Vitamin K in watercress, it can improve the health of the bones by enhancing calcium absorption in the body.
- HELPFUL AGAINST DIABETES
Watercress contains an antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid which helps reduce glucose levels in the body, increase insulin sensitivity and prevents the changes as a result of oxidative stress.
Certain studies on alpha-lipoic acid have shown that it can reduce peripheral and autonomic neuropathy in diabetes. Most of these studies, however, use only intravenous alpha-lipoic acid. There are still some uncertainties regarding oral supplements and if they can produce the same effects.
- IT HELPS REDUCE OXIDATIVE STRESS DAMAGE
One study suggests that a combination of Vitamin C and E can help reduce the oxidative damage to red blood cells. While the study was based on supplements, they suggested that an intake of food items that contain this Vitamin (such as watercress) can be very helpful.
- PROMOTES GALL BLADDER FUNCTIONS
Due to its high water content, the watercress is helpful in removing harmful toxins that might hinder the function of the gallbladder.
- IMPROVES BRAIN HEALTH
The Vitamin C present in watercress can help repair brain tissues and can prevent cognitive changes as a result of aging. It can also prevent brain damage while improving brain injuries.
Some studies have shown that individuals who sustain head injuries, usually have a low concentration of Vitamin C in their body. Vitamin C may also have a part in neuron building.
- CURES COUGH AND PREVENTS COLD
Watercress is known to contain a compound which has been identified as sulfur glycosides, which can treat any disease that is related to longterm bronchitis, especially cough. Studies on the protective abilities of Vitamin C shows that when you consume food that is rich in Vitamin C, it can reduce your risk of getting a cold by 66%.
- IMPROVES YOUR EYESIGHT
One study suggests that Vitamin C can be very effective in reducing the risk of developing cataracts in the eyes. Including watercress in your daily diet may be very helpful in protecting your eyes against the development of cataracts.
- STRENGTHENS THE TEETH AND THE BONES
Watercress is a very rich source of calcium which can help in producing healthy, strong teeth. It can also cure gums if they are bleeding.
Watercress can also help build and repair your bones by increasing the production of osteoblasts in the body. Osteoblasts are responsible for repairing and building bones in the body.
SIDE EFFECTS OF WATERCRESS
- Watercress can cause stomach problems or kidney problems when it is used in large amounts or used for long-term.
- For children who are younger than 4 years old, watercress can be unsafe as medicine.
- It is unsafe for pregnant women as medicine and can cause a miscarriage for them.
- For people who have stomach or intestinal ulcers, taking watercress can be harmful.
- People who have kidney disease should stay away from water crews as it can increase the damage by the disease.
- If watercress is not washed properly, it can cause certain diseases because of the presence of certain pathogens.
WATERCRESS NUTRITION FACTS
100 grams of watercress contains 11 calories, 0.1 gram of total fat content, 41 milligrams of Sodium, 330 milligrams of Potassium, 1.3 grams of carbohydrates, 0.5 grams of dietary fiber, 0.2 grams of sugar, and 2.3 grams of proteins.
100 grams of watercress will meet the following daily requirements:
- 1% of Sodium.
- 9% of Potassium.
- 5% of Magnesium.
- 5% of Phosphorus.
- 5% of Thiamin.
- 5% of Riboflavin.
- 2% of Dietary fiber.
- 4% of Protein.
- 1% of Iron.
- 12% of Calcium.
- 63% of Vitamin A.
- 5% of Vitamin B-6.
- 71% of Vitamin C.
- 5% of Vitamin E.
WATERCRESS FOR HAIR
Watercress helps balance the hormones which provide the hairs with needed nutrients. These nutrients give you that thick, beautiful hair you’ve always wanted. In many cases, when your scalp is dry and undernourished, it can promote hair loss. Watercress can help hydrate your scalp, nourishing your scalp and giving you the texture that you’ve always wanted.
HOW TO EAT WATERCRESS
- You can add watercress to the salad.
- You can cut some into your sandwiches.
- Add watercress for garnish.
- Watercress can be added to the soup.
- Watercress can be used to make an omelet.
- You can add to pasta.
- Skirt steak with shallot and sauteed watercress.
- Crispy pomegranate, watercress, and fennel salad.
- Bacon, potato, and watercress salad.
- Risotto with shrimp and watercress.
- Turkey sandwich with watercress and apple.
- Watercress and bean salad with almonds and ricotta salata.
- Lamb tangliata with watercress and tomatoes.
- Beam, tomato, and watercress salad.
- Gammon with watercress and mustard lentils.
- Watercress mayonnaise.
HOW TO COOK WATERCRESS
- Select the amount of watercress you intend to use.
- Wash thoroughly in cold water.
- Use a kitchen knife to trim off the stems of the watercress.
- Use a paper towel to dry the watercress leaves or put into a salad spinner to remove the excess moisture in the watercress leaves.
- Boil water over high heat in a steamer.
- Put the watercress in the steamer and reduce the heat to medium heat.
- Leave the watercress to steam for a minute. Season with flavors, salt or pepper.
- With medium heat, heat oil in a pan.
- Next, add the prepared watercress to the heated oil and using a cooking spoon or spatula, stir the watercress.
- Continue stirring for about a minute until the stems become tender and the leaves wilt.
WHERE TO BUY WATERCRESS
- You can buy watercress on eBay.
- Many vegetable shops sell watercress.
- You can also get watercress on Amazon.