Watercress belongs to the family of cruciferous along with other members such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, and arugula. It is also known as Brassica. Watercress is a popular food among common masses. It is considered as a superfood as it has a high amount of nutrients with low calories. Watercress has been used as a medicine since ancient times. It is a dark, leafy green grown in natural spring water.
Watercress is very beneficial for our health. Its health benefits are reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
High Antioxidant Content May Lower Your Risk of Chronic Diseases
Watercress contains antioxidants that protect the cell damage caused due to free radicals, reduces oxidative stress. It also reduces the risk of chronic diseases and cardiovascular diseases.
Dietary Nitrates Boost Blood Vessel Health
Watercress reduces inflammation, reduces the stiffness and thickness of blood vessels thus, promotes blood vessel health. It contains dietary nitrates which reduce high blood pressure.
Watercress May Lower Cholesterol
Watercress has high fiber content which improves heart health and lowers bad cholesterol from the body.
Mineral and Vitamin K Contents Protect Against Osteoporosis
Watercress boosts bone health, reduces the risk of osteoporosis as it contains vitamin K, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Boosts Immune Function Thanks to High Vitamin C Levels
Watercress contains vitamin C which boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation and increases the production of WBC cells in the body.
Nutrient Density May Aid Weight Loss
Watercress contains very low in calories but high in nutrients which can be used for weight management.
Dietary Nitrates May Enhance Athletic Performance
Watercress contains high levels of dietary nitrates which relaxes your blood vessels, improves exercise performance by increasing the amount of nitric oxide in the blood. It also lowers resting blood pressure, reduces the amount of oxygen needed during the workout which helps in increasing exercise tolerance.
Rich in Carotenoids and Vitamin C, Which May Protect Eye Health
Watercress improves eye health as it contains lutein, vitamin C and zeaxanthin in it. They also reduce the risk of macular degeneration, cataracts and protects the eyes from the blue light that causes damage.
Cancer prevention and treatment
Watercress contains 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM) and chlorophyll which reduces the risk of cancer like lung, melanoma, esophageal, prostate, breast, and pancreatic cancers.
Lowering blood pressure
Watercress contains calcium, magnesium, and potassium which helps in reducing high blood pressure and prevents the risk of many diseases.
Watercress increases insulin sensitivity, lower glucose levels, prevents oxidative stress results;lting in maintaining diabetes.
Watercress can be eaten at any time of day. Watercress pairs well with spinach, asparagus, avocado, beets, carrots, tomatoes, pears, kiwis, oranges, grapefruit, garlic, ginger, leeks, sesame seeds, pine nuts, white wine vinaigrette, orange marmalade, jasmine rice, pork tenderloin, fried eggs, ham, salmon, ricotta cheese, blue cheese, goat cheese, and mozzarella cheese.
How to buy and store watercress
Buy watercress that is dark, have crisp leaves and that is free from yellow, bruised spots.
Watercress can be stored for a couple of days wrapped in a plastic bag in a refrigerator.
Ways to use watercress
Watercress can be used in a variety of ways.
- Throw a small handful of watercress and blend into your favorite fruit juice or smoothie.
- Add watercress to your next omelet or egg scramble.
- Make a pesto using watercress.
- Chop watercress and add it to pasta sauce.
- Sauté watercress in a small amount of olive oil and season with ground black pepper and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Eat as a side dish or top your baked potato.
- Add watercress to your wrap, sandwich, or flatbread.
- Mix watercress into soup near the end of cooking.
- Sprinkle it on your salad.
- Stir it into your soup near the end of cooking.
- Use it to replace lettuce in a sandwich.
- Turn it into pesto by blending it with garlic and olive oil.
- Serve it with eggs.
- Use it to top any dish.
Nutritional breakdown of watercress
Two cups of watercress provide:
- 1.6 grams of protein
- 0.1 grams of fat
- 0.9 grams of carbohydrate
- 0.3 grams of fiber
- 0.1 grams of sugar
- 212 percent of vitamin K
- 48 percent of vitamin C
- 44 percent of vitamin A
- 8 percent of calcium
- 8 percent of manganese
- 6 percent of potassium
- 4 percent of vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Season in which watercress is available
Watercress is available from April to October.
How to make Sauteed Potato and Watercress – Quick Vegan Side
- 3 Medium Potatoes – chopped into bite-size pieces.
- 1 cup Fresh Watercress Leaves* – lightly chopped
- Olive Oil – 3 Tbsp
- 1/2 Tsp Turmeric
- 1/2 Tsp Cumin
- 1/2 Tsp Garam Masala
- 1/2 Tsp Red Chili Powder (optional)
- Salt – To Taste
- In a non-stick pan, heat oil over high flame for a minute.
- Add, cumin, turmeric and sauté evenly.
- Now, add potatoes, all the spices and stir everything evenly.
- Lower the heat to medium, cover and cook for 6 minutes (stirring every minute).
- Add, fresh watercress leaves and sauté everything evenly.
- Cook uncovered for another 3 minutes (sauté every minute to prevent burning the veggies).
- Turn off the heat and transfer to a serving dish.
- Serve hot.
How to make Watercress Paruppu Kadaiyal
1 bunch Watercress greens
¾ cup Split moong dal
1 no Onion chopped roughly
½ no Tomato pieces chopped roughly
5 nos Garlic pods
2 nos Green chilies (slit open)
1 tsp Vadagam r mustard seed n urad dal
2 nos Red chilies
Oil for tempering
Salt as per taste
Just remove the edges of the watercress stems n yellowish leaves n wash them thoroughly n keep aside. Heat 2 cups of water in a heavy bottomed pan, meanwhile wash thoroughly the moong dal n keep aside, add the washed moong dal to the hot water n cook for a while in medium flame, now add the roughly chopped onion followed by tomatoes, garlic pods n slit opened green chillies n close the lid n put the flame in simmer, after a while once the dal n veggies r well cooked add the well washed n roughly chopped watercress green n cook them for a while, as the watercress contains enough water n the stems r hollow, they will get cooked very easily, check whether they are cooked and put off the stove..heat the oil in a pan, once the oil is hot, add the vadagam r mustard seeds n urad dal n let the splutters, add the red chilies n fry them well, add this to the well-cooked greens as well as the salt n mash them with a food processor r with a hand blender, will be very much perfect with a masher( mathu) Serve hot with rice in ghee (optional).
Persons who are taking blood thinners and who are suffering from cardiovascular health should consult the doctors before using watercress. Watercress should be used in moderate quantities.
Fun facts on watercress
- Watercress was fed to the Roman army.
- One cup of watercress contains more than 100 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin K.
- A chemical in watercress may help protect against the negative effects of cancer treatment.
- The calcium, magnesium, and potassium in watercress may help bring down blood pressure.
- You could call watercress the first fast food. It was a free and therefore important source of sustenance throughout Europe and the US in the 19th century. Given the nickname “poor man’s bread,” bunches were often rolled into a cone and eaten as an on-the-go breakfast sandwich – much less expensive than the real thing.
- Watercress enjoys a long and storied history, with ancient origins, a variety of uses, and evidence of its use dating back three millennia to the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. It also makes an appearance in iconic historical events, such as the very first Thanksgiving, where it was recorded as a menu item.
- Up until the Renaissance, this spunky salad green was used as a breath freshener and palate cleanser, as well as for medicinal purposes. Though our ancient friends knew nothing about mineral content and vitamins, the Persians did observe that soldiers were healthier when watercress was part of their daily diet.
- The Greeks were no strangers to the health benefits of watercress, either. When Hippocrates founded the first hospital on the Island of Kos around 400 BC, he grew wild watercress in the natural springs and used it to treat blood disorders.
- It is reported that Nicholas Messier first grew watercress in Erfurt, Germany, in the middle of the 16th century. English cultivation started in early 1800 when a farmer near London began to popularize watercress as a salad ingredient. It was not long before it became increasingly difficult to meet the rather sudden increase in demand for watercress.
- The herbalist John Gerard celebrated watercress as a remedy for scurvy as early as 1636. And, according to the book of James Cook and the Conquest of Scurvy 1, Captain James Cook was able to circumnavigate the globe three times, due in part to his use of watercress in the diet of his sailors.
- Watercress is believed by many to be an aphrodisiac. In Crete, islanders swear by its powers and ancient recipes are handed down from one generation to the next.
- Lewis and Clark regularly found watercress on their trek across the Louisiana Purchase.
- Eating a bag of watercress is said to be a good cure for a hang-over.
- The U.S. Army planted watercress in the gardens of forts along the western trails, as food for their soldiers.
- According to British vegetarian writer Colin Spencer, the Romans treated insanity with vinegar and watercress.
- Roman emperors ate watercress to help them make “bold decisions”.
- The Persian King Xerxes ordered his soldiers to eat watercress to keep them healthy during their long marches. It was also used by soldiers to both prevent and cure scurvy.
- Watercress is a member of the mustard family and is believed to have originated in Ancient Greece. It remains an integral part of Mediterranean diets.
- One of Britain’s best-known dishes, watercress soup, became very popular in the 17th century when it was claimed that it cleansed the blood.