Watercress or Nasturtium officinale is an aquatic perennial herb that grows alongside slow-running waterways and nearby natural springs. It is a nutrient-dense vegetable from the Brassicaceae family, along with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale. In fact, it took the top spot in the US Centers for Disease Controls Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetable List. Additionally, Watercress is readily available all year. It is best to purchase thick, broad, luscious, and deep green colored fresh leaves from the shop. When fresh cress leaves are pressed between the thumb and index fingers, they should release a tangy, peppery scent.
Watercress is widely used in leaf salads and as a culinary spice because of its versatility. Its small, round leaves and edible stems have a peppery, slightly spicy flavor. When consumed raw, its health benefits are at their most potent. However, the addition of watercress to a range of hot dishes elevates the flavor, adds texture, and improves the dishes color.
This recipe makes 4 servings and contains 58 calories per portion.
Food Value: Fat: 3.9g, Saturated Fat: 2.3g, Carbohydrate: 0.4g, Protein: 5.2g,
Fiber: 0.4g, Salt: 0.27g
1 bunch of watercress
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
50-75ml olive oil
50g grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and black pepper
- In a food processor, combine the watercress, garlic, and pine nuts.
- Lighty puree them.
- Drizzle in the oil in bursts until the puree is somewhat runny.
- Place in a mixing bowl, add the Parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper.
- Excellent for spaghetti and risotto dressings. It freezes quite well.
Health benefits of adding watercress to your diet:
- Contains high levels of phytochemicals that may reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer. Watercress and other cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates, which are activated to compounds called isothiocyanates when theyre cut with a knife or chewed. Isothiocyanates contain chemicals such as sulforaphane and phenethylamine isothiocyanate (PEITC), which aids in preventing tumor growth and minimizing the spread of cancerous cells. Consequently, it interferes with a critical protein in cancer development.
- Contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidant compounds in the carotenoid family. These compounds improve eye health by blocking blue light from reaching the retina which reduces light-induced oxidative damage. With this, the risk of age-related eye health degeneration is reduced.
- May have benefits for weight management. It is an extremely nutrient-dense food, with one cup (34 grams) containing only four calories while providing several important nutrients.
A single cup (34 grams) of watercress contains :
Carbs: 0.4 grams
Protein: 0.8 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Fiber: 0.2 grams
Vitamin A: 22% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
Vitamin C: 24% of the RDI
Vitamin K: 106% of the RDI
Calcium: 4% of the RDI
Manganese: 4% of the RDI
So, If your goal is to lose weight, adding a nutritious and low-calorie vegetable to your diet is definitely worth a try.
- Contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which are minerals necessary for bone health. Watercress contains calcium is well-known for its effects on bone health. However, it also contains magnesium, vitamin K and potassium which also play important roles.
- Contains dietary nitrates, reduces inflammation, and reduces blood vessel stiffness and thickness. These increase the elasticity of the blood vessels, resulting in lower blood pressure, consequently improving blood vessel health.