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A Green Wonder: Health Benefits of Watercress

Updated: Mar 25

In the world of leafy greens, watercress stands out as a nutritional powerhouse and for its remarkable health benefits. 


The ancient Greeks and Romans cherished watercress (Nasturtium officinalis), and Mediaeval herbalists knew of its blood cleansing and restorative properties,  as well as it's stimulating effect on the spleen, liver and gallbladder.


This peppery and vibrant leafy vegetable not only delivers a burst of flavour but also packs a punch in terms of nutritional value.


Watercress leaves health benefits

Health benefits:


Rich in Nutrients:

Watercress is a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli and kale, therefore a rich source of essential nutrients. It is loaded with vitamins A, C, and K, providing significant support for the immune system, skin health, and circulation.


Antioxidant:

Watercress delicate leaves are packed with compounds like beta-carotene and flavonoids, which help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, reducing oxidative stress and lowering the risk of chronic diseases.


Bone Health:

Watercress is a rich source of vitamin K, a key player in bone health. Vitamin K is essential for bone mineralization and may help reduce the risk of fractures. Including watercress in your meals is a tasty way to fortify your bones and support skeletal strength.


Cardiovascular Support:

The combination of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in watercress extends its benefits to cardiovascular health. Studies suggest that regular consumption may help lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugar, and support the circulatory system. The presence of potassium contributes to maintaining a healthy blood pressure, while antioxidants work to protect the cardiovascular system.


Anti-Cancer Properties:

Glucosinolates, naturally occurring compounds found in cruciferous vegetables like watercress, broccoli, and kale, have been studied for their potential anti-cancer properties. Once converted into bioactive compounds such as isothiocyanates, their protective mechanisms of action include (cellular and animal studies):


  • induction of phase II detoxification enzymes in the liver, which are essential for neutralising and eliminating toxins from the body, including potential carcinogens

  • reduction of inflammation through the modulation of inflammatory pathways

  • modulation of cellular proliferation - some studies suggest that certain types isothiocyanates can influence cell cycle progression and induce apoptosis (programmed cell death)

  • antioxidant properties, by neutralising free radicals and reactive oxygen species, which are implicated in DNA damage

  • inhibition of angiogenesis - isothiocyanates have been found to interfere with some of the processes involved in the formation of new blood vessels stimulated by cancer cells


Incorporating watercress into your diet is a simple and delicious way to reap a myriad of health benefits. Whether you toss it in a salad, blend it into a smoothie, or use it as a garnish, the nutritional profile of watercress makes it a standout green.



Watercress and Berry Bliss Smoothie

Watercress and Berry Bliss Smoothie:


Ingredients:

40g fresh watercress, washed

75g mixed berries

half banana

75g cucumber, chopped

125g plain Greek yogurt

15g chia seeds

240ml unsweetened almond milk (adjust for desired thickness)

Ice cubes (optional)


In a blender, combine all the ingredients and almond milk. Blend on high speed until the the mixture is smooth. Adjust the liquid to obtain the desired consistency.


Enjoy!



Resources and links:

My clients know I love a green smoothie!

Here's links to a couple of books and research that keep me inspired:


Green Smoothie Retreat book

Many brilliant recipes to make tasty green smoothies to help eliminate toxins, address nutritional deficiencies, and boost energy.









Green for Life book

Introduction to the concept of green smoothies as an easy and delicious way to incorporate sufficient quantities of greens into one's diet, promoting overall health and well-being.







Research links:


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