Have you ever tried watercress? Most people are familiar with its popular cousins – broccoli, greens, cabbage, and arugula – and might have noticed watercress in gourmet salad mixes. It’s been around for a long time. Even Hippocrates built his first hospital close to a stream for a steady supply of the water-growing green.
The leaves are tender and stalks are crisp, making it a perfect addition to salads, soups, and sandwiches. This slightly peppery leaf veggie is underappreciated and underrepresented.
That’s a shame because watercress is not only delicious – it’s packed with whole body nutrition! The health benefits of watercress are well documented and growing every year.
In fact, it recently snagged the top spot in William Patterson University’s list of “Powerhouse Produce.” The researchers ranked their choices by which were most strongly linked to lowering the risk of disease.
Published in Preventing Chronic Disease, the team based their findings on the amount of nutrition provided compared to the number of calories. This is known as nutrient density. If one of the examined foods provided 10% or higher of 17 specific nutrients – without going above 100 calories per serving – it was added to the list.
The nutrients used in the study are those known in the scientific world to offer the greatest antioxidant protection against cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative conditions, and other chronic diseases.
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Watercress was scientifically ranked #1 for offering 10% or more of each of these vitamins and minerals naturally!
High levels of phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) compounds give this tasty green a serious anti-cancer punch.
Breast, lung, colorectal, and prostate cancer cells are suppressed by the activity of PEITC by cutting off the damaged cells ability to signal your body to make new blood vessels. This is a process known as anti-angiogenesis. Without the ability to tell the body to create new blood vessels into the cancer tumor, the cancer receives no oxygen or nutrition – essentially starving the damaged cells.
Another compound called gluconasturtiin provides the slight pepper taste to watercress and suppresses carcinogens that lead to cancer.
High in lutein, zeaxanthin, iron, and fiber, watercress is incredible for your blood and heart. It naturally detoxifies while offering excellent protection against free radical damage.
That it is also low in calories means it is an excellent choice for diabetics and those with metabolic disorders.
For outstanding protection against damage to your brain cells, look no further than the vitamin K found in watercress. One serving provides more than 300% of your recommended daily value.
With our growing epidemic of so many neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia due to poor diet, the “low fat” craze, and chemicals in our food and water supply, all the neural protection we can get is a good thing!
The Total Protection Food You’ve Never Tried…
An added benefit of watercress’s K content is that many people are usually deficient in this crucial vitamin. It aids in the blood clotting process, the development and maintenance of strong teeth and bones, and improved insulin resistance.
That makes it especially beneficial to developing babies in the womb (it takes several weeks after birth for newborns to build up vitamin K) as well as older people who have issues with blood that refuses to clot properly, weaker bones, and difficulties with processing insulin.
You need watercress benefits in your life. Here’s one good way to get it there with the recipe below courtesy of Eating Well! It is heart healthy, low calorie, diabetic friendly, and delicious!
Watercress is a water plant so it’s important to wash it well before using. Soak fully in water with a couple of tablespoons of lemon for half an hour, rinse thoroughly, shake dry, and get cooking!
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth or vegetable broth, divided
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Dash of salt (optional)
- 8 cups chopped watercress, any tough stems removed, plus ½ cup leaves for garnish
- 2 tablespoons shredded fresh horseradish (see Note) or prepared horseradish, or to taste
- ½ cup half-and-half
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 slices day-old sourdough bread, crusts removed, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (optional)
- Heat 1-tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables start to soften and brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk 1-cup broth and flour in a small bowl until completely smooth. Set aside.
- Add the remaining 3 cups broth and salt to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the onion is very tender, about 5 minutes.
- Stir chopped watercress into the pot and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Stirring constantly, add the flour mixture and horseradish. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 1 to 3 minutes.
- Puree the soup in a blender in batches until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.)
- Return to the pot, stir in half-and-half and season with pepper; keep warm.
- Heat the remaining 1-tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.
- Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until golden and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Ladle soup into 4 bowls. Garnish with the breadcrumbs, watercress leaves, and blue cheese, if desired.