Watercress Health Benefits, Nutritional Value, Uses, and Side Effects

Watercress Health Benefits
Watercress Health Benefits, Nutritional Value, Uses, and Side Effects

Watercress, one of the oldest leaves consumed by humans, is dark green in colour and has a moderately peppery flavour with a bitter aftertaste. It is a member of the same family as exotic cabbage, broccoli, and kale. Because of its rich vitamin content, the herb is gaining popularity as a superfood.

Watercress leaves have a peppery flavour. As a result, it is commonly used as a garnish on salads, in sandwiches, or diluted with vinegar to create an Italian flavour blend. Watercress can be eaten raw. Furthermore, every part of it is edible, including the leaf, stem, and blossom. Although its roots do not taste unpleasant, you should avoid eating them.

Watercress Nutritional Value

One hundred grammes of watercress provides the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 11000
  • 0.1g of fat
  • 330mg potassium
  • Magnesium (mg): 21mg
  • 0.2mg iron
  • 41mg sodium
  • 1 gramme of carbohydrates
  • 2.3g protein
  • 120mg calcium

Watercress Has 10 Health Advantages

Enhances vision

Watercress is high in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidant-rich carotenoids. These two carotenoids, according to study, are critical components for eye health.

They are the major pigments in the yellow spot that protect the macula from blue light damage, improve visual acuity, and scavenge toxic reactive oxygen species. They also aid to lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.[1]

Lutein and zeaxanthin also have anti-ageing effects that help reduce the chance of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Furthermore, the vitamin C concentration of watercress aids in the prevention of cataracts.

Improves Immunity

Watercress has a high concentration of vitamin C. It contains up to 15mg of vitamin C per cup, which is around 20% of the RDA (RDI). Several studies reveal that vitamin C is a micronutrient that helps the immune system’s diverse cellular processes. Furthermore, it strengthens the skin’s barrier against infections.

Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that aids in the reduction of oxidative stress. Free radical oxidative stress binds with free-flowing oxygen in the body, preventing healthy cells from receiving new oxygen. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals and protect the body from oxidative stress.

It prevents osteoporosis.

Calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus are some critical elements for bone health. Calcium is the primary structural component of the skeletal system. Vitamin K and potassium, on the other hand, are needed for bone health.

Vitamin K is a component of the protein osteocalcin, which is found in bone tissue and regulates bone turnover. According to one study, persons who consumed the most vitamin K were 35% less likely to suffer a hip fracture than those who consumed the least vitamin K.

Reduces Cholesterol Levels

One of the many advantages of watercress is that it helps to lower cholesterol levels. Including watercress in your diet can drastically lower triglyceride levels. Increased cholesterol is caused by high triglyceride levels.

Watercress also lowers low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), which are bad cholesterol, and raises high-density lipoproteins (HDLs), which are healthy cholesterol, according to study.

Reduces Blood Pressure

Watercress, like any other green vegetable, has naturally occurring dietary nitrates. Nitric oxide is an important molecule in the regulation of vascular activities. According to one study, those who consume nitrate supplements or nitrate-rich meals have lower blood pressure, implying that nitrate can help regulate hypertension.

Watercress is also high in potassium, which helps to reduce blood pressure by counteracting the effects of salt. It also relaxes the blood vessel walls, allowing blood to flow freely without restriction or cramping.

Helps to prevent cancer

Watercress has a high concentration of phytochemicals. These phytochemicals lower the likelihood of acquiring cancer. According to research, chemicals in watercress such as glucosinolates have anticancer properties.

It also contains isothiocyanates such as sulforaphane and phenethyl isothiocyanate. They deactivate carcinogenic substances and prevent tumours from growing uncontrollably. As a result, they shield healthy cells against cancer.

Reduces the likelihood of developing chronic diseases

Watercress is high in antioxidant molecules, which aid to protect healthy cells from free radical damage. It can also assist to undo some of the damage that has already been done.

Free radicals generate oxidative stress, which leads to a variety of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. Watercress contains about 40 flavonoids (antioxidants) that can be used to neutralise free radicals.

Improve Athletic Performance

Watercress provides a high concentration of dietary nitrates. Nitrates aid in the relaxation of blood vessels and the increase of nitric oxide levels in the circulation.

According to research, nitric oxide (NO) may improve workout performance. Furthermore, dietary nitrates can aid in the reduction of resting blood pressure.

As a result, the amount of oxygen used during exercise is reduced. As a result, it may improve exercise tolerance.

Help with Weight Loss

Watercress is a high-nutrient-dense food. It also provides weight control and weight loss benefits. One cup of watercress contains few calories but plenty of vital minerals such as vitamins and micronutrients.

Low-calorie vegetables are quite beneficial for weight loss and should be included in your diet. Watercress is also incredibly adaptable, making it simple to add it into your daily cuisine.

Encourages a Healthy Pregnancy

Watercress has a lot of folate. According to study, it is a necessary nutrient for pregnant women. Folate promotes the growth of the foetus or embryo.

Folate deficiency can induce foetal malformations and potentially difficulties for the mother. A folate-rich diet can also lower the risk of getting anaemia.

Watercress Recipes

Watercress has some therapeutic properties. However, there is insufficient evidence or studies to demonstrate the efficacy of watercress for these applications. However, it can be used to relieve certain symptoms such as cough, bronchitis, inflammation, flu, and constipation.

Watercress is commonly used in cooking and has a bitter-tangy flavour. Watercress can, however, be used as a meal dressing.

  • Toss the watercress leaves with olive oil and your favourite dressing and toss with leafy salads, cherry tomatoes, and other green vegetables.
  • Watercress can also be used in place of spinach or lettuce to give variety to your everyday salad.
  • You can also use the watercress to make an Italian vinegar dressing by combining some finely chopped watercress leaves with your chilli vinegar. Finally, you can pair it with nachos.
  • You can also make mayonnaise with watercress leaves and use it for wraps and sandwiches. This gives it a unique minty fresh flavour.

Curry with Watercress

Time to Prepare: 25 minutes
2 servings

Ingredients

660 g watercress
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dried chilli
1 chopped onion
2 potatoes
100 mL of water Salt (to taste)
1 tbsp oil

Method

  • In a pan, heat some oil and add the onions.
  • Fry the onions till tender and golden.
  • Combine the garlic and chilli flakes in a mixing bowl.
  • For 1-2 minutes, fry the ingredients.
  • Cook for 12-15 minutes after adding the chopped potatoes and some water.
  • Cook for 10 minutes after adding the watercress and covering with a lid.
  • Remove from the heat once all of the water has evaporated and serve with rice.

Watercress: Precautions and Potential Side Effects

  • If you take blood thinners, you should not start eating vitamin K-rich foods like watercress all of a sudden. Vitamin K is essential for blood coagulation.
  • Nitric oxide levels in watercress are high, and nitrate-containing vegetable juice may accumulate germs and taint the juice. As a result, you should properly store watercress juice.
  • A high diet of cruciferous vegetables, such as watercress, may result in a reduction in thyroid hormone activity. As a result, eating a balanced diet is preferable to focusing on certain items.
  • Watercress is probably harmful to consume during pregnancy. It may trigger menstruation and a miscarriage. As a result, it is advised to avoid using it.
  • There is insufficient research to determine whether watercress is safe to consume when breastfeeding. So, to be on the safe side, avoid using it.
  • Watercress is not safe to use as a medicine in children, especially those under the age of four.
  • If you have stomach or intestinal ulcers, avoid eating watercress. It has the potential to aggravate a pre-existing condition.
  • If you have kidney illness, avoid using watercress. It interacts with drugs and may be harmful. Watercress also includes oxalates, which promote the production of kidney stones.

In conclusion

Watercress is a superfood that is high in vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients while being low in calories. Furthermore, it contains many antioxidants that can help prevent many chronic diseases and cancers.

It’s also a tasty complement to your dishes, and you can use it to replace lettuce or spinach. Although it is not the most popular vegetable, it is one of the healthiest.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What are the advantages of watercress?

A: Watercress is high in important nutrients that our bodies need to function properly. It also has vitamin K, which is good for bone health. Furthermore, the presence of vitamin C in it aids in the maintenance of a healthy immune system.

Q: Is there anyone who should not eat watercress?

A: If you have stomach or intestinal ulcers, you should avoid eating watercress because it may aggravate the illness. It may also create major complications during pregnancy. As a result, pregnant women should avoid it as well.

Q: Is watercress considered a superfood?

A: Watercress is a superfood since it contains over 40 vital nutrients. It is also high in vitamins and antioxidants, which have numerous health benefits.

Q: Is it safe to eat watercress?

A: Watercress is a rather safe vegetable to eat. You can also use it in place of spinach or cabbage for a more acidic flavour. It is high in a variety of essential elements and low in calories. Watercress provides all of the necessary nutrients without causing excessive weight gain.

Q: What happens if you consume watercress on a daily basis?

A: There is no risk in taking watercress on a daily basis. If ingested in adequate quantities on a regular basis, it can help overcome vitamin K and C insufficiency.

Q: Is watercress harmful to one’s kidneys?

A: Of course. Watercress should not be combined with kidney disease medications since the interaction can be hazardous. Furthermore, it has the potential to aggravate a pre-existing condition. Watercress contains oxalates, which promote kidney stone formation.

Q: Is watercress beneficial to the liver?

A: Yes, watercress can aid in the detoxification of the body and liver cells. Because it contains many antioxidants, it aids in liver healing.

Q: Is spinach or watercress healthier?

A: Watercress is a better alternative than spinach for weight management because it has fewer calories. Aside from that, both are high in vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants.

Q: Which is better for you, parsley or watercress?

A: Parsley contains more vitamin K, C, folate, vitamin A, zinc, and magnesium than spinach. As a result, it is far healthier than watercress.

Q: Is watercress considered a herb?

A: It is a member of the vegetable family Brassicaceae. Watercress is considered an aquatic herb in some areas, but a weed in others.

Q: How much watercress should you consume each day?

A: To meet your body’s nutrient requirements, consume approximately 34g of watercress per day.

Q: Can you eat the watercress stems?

A: A watercress stem can be eaten. However, if it has a thick stem, you should remove it. Aside from that, it is safe to ingest. The only portion of the watercress plant you should avoid eating are the roots.

Q. Is it safe to consume raw watercress?

A: Yes, raw watercress is fine to eat. It contains several heat-sensitive elements and has the maximum nutritional value when ingested raw.

Q: What effect does watercress have on your body?

Because of its antioxidant qualities, it can help restore oxidative damage produced by free radicals. This aids in the prevention of cell damage. It is also low in calories. As a result, it is advantageous for those attempting to lose weight. It is also beneficial in keeping a healthy blood pressure level.