Watercress is the superfood vegetable on everybody’s thoughts nowadays, and that is as a result of it was dubbed the “healthiest vegetable on the planet” by the Facilities for Illness Management (CDC). Granted, it was again in June 2014 when watercress topped the checklist of a report known as “Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Greens: A Nutrient Density Method,” however the information has resurfaced over the previous couple of weeks, spurred by what appears to be like to be one very profitable advertising and marketing marketing campaign by B&W High quality Growers. The produce producer used the 2014 CDC scoring as a strategy to get extra individuals to begin shopping for watercress, and everybody from Vogue to the New York Submit subsequently lined the leafy inexperienced’s advantages. Now, we are able to maybe thank this unusual sport of reporting phone for drudging up previous information and reminding us simply how nutrient-dense and useful watercress might be.
Now, again to the report that began all of it: Researchers at William Paterson College in New Jersey sought to take widespread “powerhouse” vegetables and fruit like completely different leafy greens, citruses, and cruciferous greens, and provides every of those meals a rating based mostly on their “nutrient density.” Among the many greatest heavy hitters have been cabbage, chard, and spinach, however the one meals to earn an ideal rating of 100 was watercress. In accordance with the CDC, which means that “the meals offers, on common, 100% DV of the qualifying vitamins per 100 energy.”
To be taught much more about watercress past its nutrient density, we talked with a handful of dietitians to search out out what precisely this powerhouse vegetable can do in your physique and in your well being. Learn on, and for extra wholesome consuming recommendation, make sure that to take a look at 7 Greens That Scale back Irritation and Sluggish Getting older.
While you chop up some watercress in your salad, smoothies, or sandwiches, you will be giving your physique some highly effective compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. “Watercress has anti-inflammatory results, which will help the physique fight oxidative stress,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian on our Medical Skilled Board.
However the place precisely does watercress get these anti-inflammatory qualities? “Probably the most noteworthy options of watercress is that it’s the finest supply of a compound known as Phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC),” says Manaker. “This compound has been linked to results like a discount of progress of sure most cancers cells and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant results.”
You usually hear of consuming meals like kale or broccoli to get extra vitamin Okay into your weight-reduction plan, however watercress is one other vegetable with a excessive Okay vitamin depend. Actually, a cup of watercress has about 85 micrograms of vitamin Okay, and the each day really useful quantity for adults is round 120 micrograms, so that you’re getting shut by consuming only one serving. However what does vitamin Okay do?
“This aqueous veggie has a formidable quantity of vitamin Okay, which is a nutrient that helps the physique clot blood,” says Manaker. “Vitamin Okay additionally is a vital nutrient that may assist bone well being.” Harvard Well being says that some analysis has additionally discovered that vitamin Okay could assist with coronary heart well being.
Watercress is made up of nutritional vitamins and minerals which have been confirmed to be useful to the well being of your coronary heart. “For one, it’s free from saturated fats and has an insignificant quantity of sodium, and these two components are necessary when selecting meals that assist coronary heart well being,” says Manaker. On prime of that, “Watercress additionally incorporates the three key micronutrients emphasised on the DASH weight-reduction plan—calcium, magnesium, and potassium.” The DASH weight-reduction plan is particularly targeted on reducing blood stress and ldl cholesterol, and watercress could be a nutritious a part of this consuming plan.
As well as, watercress additionally incorporates dietary nitrates, “which may promote wholesome blood vessels, enhance blood circulation, and assist regulate blood stress,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD. “These nitrates are transformed into nitric oxide within the physique, a compound that relaxes blood vessels and helps cardiovascular perform.”
In accordance with Manaker, watercress incorporates compounds which will assist defend towards the event of macular degeneration, which is an age-related situation that may have an effect on the retina. This vegetable might be useful in your eyes on this case as a result of “Watercress is a pure supply of lutein and zeaxanthin—two compounds that assist eye well being,” says Manaker.
A report revealed in Vitamins states that plant compounds like these will help defend towards age-related points due to their capability to cut back oxidative stress harm, however lutein and zeaxanthin are particularly discovered within the retina, which is why they’re linked to serving to with macular degeneration.
With a view to defend your bones as you age, it is necessary to soak up quite a lot of useful vitamins by means of all varieties of meals. In accordance with our dietitians, watercress will help by offering important minerals in your bones.
“Watercress is wealthy in important minerals that promote optimum bone well being, encompassing calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus,” says Trista Greatest, MPH, RD, LD at Stability One Dietary supplements. “Whereas calcium is widely known for its affect on bone well being, magnesium, vitamin Okay, and potassium additionally maintain vital roles.” Greatest additional explains that vitamin Okay is useful within the well being of your bones as a result of it constitutes an important aspect of osteocalcin, a protein integral to sturdy bone construction and the regulation of bone turnover.”
One main good thing about chowing down on some watercress, whether or not it is on prime of a salad or combined right into a smoothie, is that you just’re gifting your physique with a mess of vitamins, nutritional vitamins, and minerals, all whereas consuming only a few energy in any respect—lower than 4 per cup!
“Total watercress is low in energy whereas being nutrient-dense, thus changing into a wonderful selection in your weight-reduction plan with out including extra energy,” says Lisa Younger, PhD, RDN.
As you’ll be able to see by now, watercress is kind of the powerhouse of a vegetable. Together with its potential to assist your coronary heart, bones, eyes, and discount of irritation, this inexperienced additionally incorporates compounds linked to most cancers safety.
“Analysis means that watercress could have anticancer properties,” says Goodson. “It incorporates bioactive compounds like glucosinolates, which may have a protecting impact towards sure varieties of most cancers by inhibiting the expansion of most cancers cells and selling their elimination.” She provides that “the presence of antioxidants and different phytochemicals in watercress additional contributes to its potential in decreasing most cancers threat.”