Along with kale, collards, mustard greens, and turnip greens, watercress is one of the most nutrient-dense foods around. Most importantly, watercress is a specialist at preventing cancer.
Watercress is rich in fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamin C, beta-carotene, folic acid, potassium, calcium, phosphorous and iron, and is a good source of iodine as well. In fact, it has more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach.
Its main active principles are classified as thyoglycosides, an anti-thrombosis with a mild anti-coagulant effect. Watercress also contain moderate amounts of vitamins B1 and B2, zinc, copper and manganese.
Watercress can be used as a basic ingredient for salads, sauces or in soups. On its own, watercress juice is bitter. Try mixing it with other vehetable juices to make it more palatable – throw in some parsley too for their synergistic healing power. Squeeze in half a lemon to reduce its pungent taste.
Watercress has plenty of health and therapeutic properties. Watercress belongs to the family of cruciferous vegetables, uniquely high in glucosinolates, which are precursors to cancer-fighting molecules called isothiocyanates.
Associations between cruciferous vegetable intake and reduced cancer risk have sparked a surge in studies on the anti-cancer effects of specific cruciferous vegetables and their constituent isothiocyanates.
Anti-anemic effect: Watercress is helpful in treating anemia due to its high content in iron. The right amount of vitamin C in watercress also makes better absorption of iron.
Anti-inflammatory properties: Watercress is rich in vitamin C, which has an anti-inflammatory action and can help prevent or relieve the symptoms of cold, flu and other types of inflammation.
Anti-oxidant effects: Just as many other herbs, watercress is rich in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidant substances help prevent or fight the damage caused by free radicals to body tissues, thereby contributing to prevent premature aging, as well as lower the risk of developing cancer and many other chronic or degenerative diseases.
Blood glucose: Watercress can help control blood sugar levels. The hypoglycemic effect of watercress is partly due to its high content in soluble fiber, that helps reduce the absorption of carbohydrates from the intestine.
Bone health: The right proportion of calcium, magnesium, manganese, vitamins A, C and K in watercress helps promote and maintain healthy and strong bones.
Cough: The sulphur glycosides found in watercress have been shown to modify bronchial secretions and exert an expectorant effect, which can be used to treat many forms of chronic bronchitis.
Digestive function: Watercress improves digestive function due to its high content in vitamin C and fiber, which stimulate salivary and gastric secretions and the motility of the intestinal tract respectively.
Detox: Watercress has been used for centuries for its purifying effects. It helps give the colon a good “spring-cleaning”, removing toxins from the body.
Thyroid health: The high iodine content in watercress can help improve the function of the thyroid gland and relieve the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
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