13 Impressive Health Benefits of Watercress
Watercress is rich in isothiocyanates and other nutrients that are good for your health

Watercress is a leafy green that is part of the Brassicaceae family of vegetables, which includes kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.

Watercress is rich in isothiocyanates and other nutrients that are good for your health. Learn about the benefits, side effects, and nutrition facts of watercress.

13 health benefits of watercress

1. Nutrient-dense

Watercress is packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals while being low in calories, making it a nutrient-dense food. 

2. Source of vitamin C

Vitamin C helps fight free radicals and prevents oxidative damage to cells. Vitamin C boosts the production of white blood cells, which can also boost the immune system.

3. High in iron

Watercress contains high levels of iron, which is necessary to convert energy from food and is essential for growth and development. Iron found in vegetables, however, does not get absorbed by the body unless vitamin C is also present to convert it into the same form that is easy to absorb from red meat (known as haem iron). Since watercress also contains vitamin C, that means the iron in watercress is more easily absorbed by the body.

4. Maintains a strong immune system

Vitamin A that is needed to maintain a strong immune system, and 100 grams of watercress contains more than 50% of the recommended daily intake of. 

5. Promotes healthy pregnancy

Due to the high quantity of folate in watercress, it is very beneficial for pregnant women. Studies have reported that consumption of folate-rich foods, similar to watercress, can lower the risk of neural tube insufficiency.

6. Improves thyroid function

Raw watercress has shown to have a positive effect on thyroid health by reducing thyroid hormone production.

7. Improves bone health

Watercress contains substantial amounts of calcium, which can help slow the progression of osteoporosis. Additionally, watercress has natural chemicals that stimulate the osteoblasts (bone cells) that build bone tissue.

8. Improves eyesight

Watercress is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids with antioxidant properties. These two carotenoids are essential for eye health.

9. Helps slow skin aging

Watercress contains vitamins A and C, which help skin cells repair themselves. Moreover, they help combat sun-induced skin damage and keep skin blemish-free.

10. Helps fight cancer

Watercress contains phenylethyl isothiocyanate, which interferes with a critical protein in cancer development. It turns off a signal called hypoxia inducible factor, starving cancer tumor growth and slows the rate of spread. 

11. Prevents chronic diseases

Antioxidant properties of watercress helps delay the onset of diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic health problems.

12. Enhances athletic performance

Watercress contains a high amount of dietary nitrates. Nitrates help relax the blood vessels and improve vascular health, which can enhance athletic performance.

13. Aids weight loss

Since watercress is low in calories but packed with essential nutrients, including fiber, it is great for weight management.

What is the nutritional value of watercress?

One cup of watercress contains the following:

  • 4 calories
  • 0.782 grams of protein
  • 0.034 grams of fat
  • 0.439 grams of carbohydrate
  • 0.17 grams of fiber

Watercress is also rich in the following nutrients:

  • Vitamins K, C, E, A, and B6
  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus

What are potential side effects of watercress?

  • May interfere with thyroid health: Most cruciferous vegetables, including watercress, contain compounds called goitrogens that may interfere with iodine metabolism. Iodine is a nutrient essential for thyroid health. Individuals with thyroid issues may have to limit their intake of watercress (and other cruciferous vegetables) after consulting with their doctor.
  • May aggravate kidney disease: Watercress contains small amounts of potassium. If you are dealing with kidney issues, check with your doctor before adding watercress to your diet. Your doctor may suggest limiting consumption.
  • Effects on pregnancy and breastfeeding: There is not much information available on the safety of eating watercress during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor before including watercress in your diet.

How to incorporate watercress into your diet

People mostly consume watercress in salads. However, you can also incorporate watercress into pasta dishes, casseroles, and sauces. Watercress will sauté faster than tougher greens such as kale and collard greens and lends a mild, slightly peppery flavor to any dish. Some ways to include watercress in the diet include the following:

  • Put a small handful of watercress in your favorite fruit juice or smoothie.
  • Add watercress to an omelet or egg scramble.
  • Make a pesto using watercress.
  • Chop watercress and add it to pasta sauce.
  • Fry watercress in some extra virgin olive oil and use a topping for baked potato
  • Add watercress to a wrap or sandwich.
  • Mix watercress into soup near the end of cooking.

QUESTION

According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 6/30/2022
References
Image Source: Getty image

Health Benefits of Watercress: https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-watercress

Therapeutic Potentials of Watercress in Human Disorders: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8123986/