Health Benefits Of Watercress
A highly nutritious vegetable, watercress has been considered to have revitalizing powers by most herbalists. Regarded amongst the most nutritious vegetables, watercress is a member of the cabbage family which includes other greens such as mustard greens, kale, collards, kohlrabi and turnip greens. The veggie, though a perennial native of the region from Europe to Central Asia, is now cultivated in other continents as well. The plant grows along the banks of slow-running streams and rivers and is characterized by small, round leaves, having a pungent, peppery flavor. The plant has very small white flowers with four-petalled corollas in flat clusters called corymbs. Watercress has been attributed with various health benefits, due to its high nutrient content.
Nutrition Benefits of Eating Watercress :
- Containing a high level of two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, watercress helps in protecting the eyes.
- Watercress is helpful in normalizing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Increasing sexual energy, enhanced fertility and breast milk production are some of the other benefits of watercress.
- The vegetable helps to improve memory and mental functions.
- Watercress contains nasturin, a unique type of phytochemical which is converted into PEITC in the body. PEITC is found to inhibit the growth of different kinds of cancer such as breast, colon and prostate cancer.
- It contains lutein that helps in preventing arterial damage and heart disease.
- Low in calories and high in potassium, watercress helps in losing weight since its diuretic action draws excess fluid down and out of the body.
- By regulating the flow of bile, watercress helps in improving digestion.
- The vegetable is also valued for clearing and improving the complexion.
- Raw watercress leaves are chewed to cure bleeding gums. Apart from this, the leaves can also be used as a poultice to relieve enlarged prostate gland, treat swollen feet and sprained ankles.
- Being a good source of iodine, watercress helps in the normal functioning of the thyroid gland.
- It strengthens bones and teeth due to its rich calcium content.
- Watercress has the highest sulfur content after horseradish, hence playing an important role in absorbing protein, purifying blood, building cells and keeping hair and skin healthy.
- Watercress juice when mixed with vinegar is consumed to overcome lethargy and drowsiness.
- Watercress leaves are finely chopped and steeped in honey overnight. This solution is used as a cough medicine.
- Eating few watercress leaves is a folk-remedy for treating allergies, watering eyes, sneezing and stuffy head.
- While buying watercress, look for fresh-looking greens with spring leaves that does not show signs of wilting and yellowing.
- Place the watercress leaves in a large plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator. This would help to keep the leaves fresh for about two to three days.
- Finely chop 100 g of watercress leaves and place them in a glass jar. Pour 100 ml of alcohol (vodka or brandy) and 1 teaspoon of geranium oil. Shake the mixture several times a day for 2 weeks and strain it into a bottle. Rub a little of this tonic into your scalp daily for strong and thick hair.
- Apply fresh watercress juice to face and skin to fade freckles, spots and blotches. Watercress is also known to clear acne, blemishes, pimples and blackheads.
- Make a beauty skin lotion by mixing 1 tbsp of honey, with 4 tbsp of watercress juice. Store this concoction in a bottle and keep refrigerated. Dab some lotion to your skin, using cotton swab in the morning and evening.
- Chop watercress leaves finely and add them to other salad leaves or vegetables to overcome the peppery flavor.
- You can add watercress to cooked dishes, salads, soup, stews and stir-fries, just before serving.
- Garnish your platter of vegetables with some sprigs of watercress.
- The leaves also make a good accompaniment with diced paw paw and pineapple.
- Use the leaves in preparing omelets, pies, quiche, casseroles, dips, rice dishes and stuffings.
- Consuming watercress for longer periods can cause cystitis or other bladder problems, due to its strong diuretic properties.
- People suffering from bladder inflammation should avoid or limit the consumption of watercress, due to its bladder pain-inducing effects.
- Due to its high iodine content, watercress should be avoided by people with hyperthyroidism.
- People who are on medication should consult before consuming watercress or its juice.