Watercress – a Natural Superfood

Watercress, Nasturtium officinale, is a crispy, peppery source of vitamins such as C, B1, B6, K, and E. It also has iron, manganese, zinc, and potassium, as well as the key combination of calcium and magnesium. It has other components discussed below.

Historically, watercress was used to cure and prevent scurvy. This semi-aquatic plant is a natural superfood. Here are some of the ways you can benefit from eating this plant.

  • Vitamin K, in which watercress is rich, helps promote blood clotting.
  • Iodine present in watercress helps promote thyroid health.
  • Iron and zinc are good for healthy hair and fingernails, and iron helps build healthy blood.
  • Studies suggest that watercress can help prevent and fight cancer. It contains phenylethyl isothiocyanate, a glucosinolate that is strongly implicated in cancer prevention. At this writing, a study in England is occurring that is testing watercress’s ability to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. Glucosinolates also enhance the liver’s ability to detoxify the body.
  • Watercress can enhance eye health. It contains lutein, a substance that is very good for the eyes.
  • For treating colds, watercress can be very helpful. You can use the dried variety to make a tea, or eat an ounce or so on your salad when you have a cold.
  • Watercress is implicated in skin health. It contains lysine, which helps fight the viral skin rash known as shingles.
  • The fiber in watercress is a good addition to a healthful diet full of fiber.

So how can you incorporate this superfood into your diet? Here are some ideas and suggestions.

First, look for organic watercress that is dark green if you are buying it from a store. You can also grow it yourself, in a container or garden, as long as its environment is very wet.

Add a bunch of watercress to a hot pasta dish, and toss it until the watercress wilts a bit. Blend a bunch in a blender with mayonnaise (made from healthy oils) and a few teaspoons of lemon juice to make a creamy sauce for fish and chicken, or a spread for crusty bread or crackers.

Try using it as a base for pesto sauce. Sandwiches and wraps are enhanced with the addition of watercress. Cucumber sandwiches in particular work well with this vegetable, and salads benefit from its fresh flavor. Watercress can be baked in quiches, stirred into soups, and added to sautes and stir-fries. Use it in place of spinach or any leafy green, either raw or cooked.