Integrative Nutrition Blog

Is Watercress a Superfood?

March 14, 2017

Image via Shutterstock

Move over, kale, and make way for watercress.

The peppery leafy green is grown in water and contains more than a dozen vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to the whole body.

For example:

It’s #1 for fighting inflammation and chronic illness.

A recent study at William Paterson University in New Jersey ranked more than 40 fruits and vegetables by their ability to fend off inflammation and chronic disease. The researchers examined the bioavailability of various nutrients proven to fight inflammation, including iron, potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K. Watercress topped the list with a score of 100, followed by Chinese cabbage (91.99) and chard (89.27). Kale, known as the “king of superfoods,” received only a 49.07.

It’s got that special K (and C and E)

Eighty grams of raw watercress has more than 200% of the recommended daily value (DV) of vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting, promotes bone health, and according to a 2014 study may help you live longer. It also has more vitamin C than a clementine and more vitamin E than broccoli, according to the UK-based Watercress Company.

It may have anti-aging effects.

For a 2012 study in the United Kingdom, 11 women ate 80 grams of watercress every day for four weeks. The researchers, led by nutritionist and dietician Sarah Schenker, used a VISIA complexion analysis system on the participants’ complexions before and after the study. After the four weeks, nine women had reduced pores, eight had improved texture, seven had reduced wrinkles, and a majority had increased energy. “Watercress is a rich source of beta carotene needed to quench free radicals, which can cause damage to skin cells,” says Dr. Schenker, adding that the high levels of vitamins C and E contributed to these effects.

It’s time-honored.

The belief in watercress’s benefits go back to the ancient Greeks. According to the Watercress Company, Hippocrates used it when treating patients, Roman emperors ate it for bravery, Victorians used it for various ailments, and in the 1600s, an herbalist used it to treat scurvy.

So how to eat it? Just serve it like you would any leafy green, including spinach or kale. Put it in salads, puree it into pesto, add it to sandwiches, or cook it to soups. But since it is grown in shallow water, be sure to rinse it well before eating and taking in all those amazing benefits.

Have you tried watercress? How do you serve it? Share in the comments below!

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