There are so many foods you’ll hear that you should add to your diet. Most of them are shared repeatedly. You need to get all your dark leafy greens, plenty of acidic fruits, and so much more. But what about some of the herbs and smaller veggies that you don’t hear much about?
Watercress tends to be added to all sorts of salads. You’ll see it pop up now and again in recipes, but think little of it. Sure, it’s a vegetable, but you don’t consider it to be detrimental to your health. You may think of just ignoring it the next time you see it.
Well, it’s time to add watercress to your meals. There are many tastes and health benefits that you will gain from it. Here’s a look at just eight benefits you gain by adding in watercress to your meals.
Prevents Some Types of Cancers
Too many people overlook the nutritional benefits of watercress. This is food that is packed with phytonutrients that are known for preventing cancers. The nutrients help to remove the carcinogens from the body, preventing them from affecting the cells within the body. This isn’t just effective for people who have never been diagnosed with cancer, but also for those who are in remission to prevent the cancer from coming back.
Studies show the most benefits in patients who have had breast cancer before, but that doesn’t mean the benefits are only connected to this type of cancer. In fact, studies show that colorectal cancer can also be reduced due to the nutrients in the food.
The studies show that at least 80g of watercress per day is good for reducing the risks of cancer. This is a large amount, considering the size and weight of cancer. However, you can add watercress to so many meals in many ways. It can top asalad, or you can make your soup with it.
There are a few reasons why watercress is believed to be beneficial. The main factor is the antioxidants in the ingredient. Antioxidants help to reduce free radicals and stop oxidative damage to the cells. They help to stop signs of aging and cell death.
Another benefit is in the vitamin C, which is classed as an antioxidant. This specifically targets the cells to keep them healthy. Vitamin C isn’t one that we’re able to store or create ourselves, so our bodies must rely on us getting enough.
Studies show that the nutrients help to prevent white blood cell damage. The white blood cells help to spread the immune system around the body and repair damage. Studies that considered this showed that smokers were less likely to see damaged lung cells!
The folate within the vegetable is also seen as a positive. Studies are still needed in this, as the benefit is seen after 15 years of adding folate to the diet!
It’s not just watercress that shows these benefits. All cruciferous vegetables have the phytonutrients needed to help reduce the risk of cancer. The biggest benefit of watercress is that it’s much easier to eat quickly. It’s small and not as bitter when eaten raw, compared to many other cruciferous vegetables.
Boosts the Working of Your Thyroid Gland
You likely don’t give your thyroid much thought, unless you’ve had to have the gland’s efficiency checked. The thyroid is the gland that affects your metabolism. When it suffers from degrading, the metabolism slows down and can’t break down the food as effectively. You end up storing calories, and your body will feel the lack of energy.
The thyroid can be affected by all sorts of reasons, but a healthy diet helps to keep it working. Watercress is one of those foods that will support the health of the thyroid gland. It helps to reduce the hormone production within the thyroid, keeping it level and health.
Yes, the thyroid can produce too many hormones. Sometimes this will slow the metabolism, and sometimes it speeds it up. The latter isn’t a good thing. While you will want to increase your metabolism now and then, an overactive thyroid will prevent your body from absorbing all your nutrients.
Eating most cruciferous vegetables will offer benefits for the thyroid, but you want to eat them raw. This is where watercress comes into play. It’s not bitter and relatively tasteless, making it much easier for people to enjoy raw. You can add it on top of your salads without really thinking about it.
If you need to cook your watercress, steam it. Cooking in other ways will damage the nutrients, and your thyroid doesn’t gain as much from your diet.
Protect Your Cardiovascular Health
Are you worried about the health of your heart and lungs? The cardiovascular health is a concern for many people, especially those with heart disease, heart attacks, or strokes in the family history.
Watercress can act as a secondary metabolite. This means it can help to break down more food and lower the amount of bad cholesterol in the body. Like other cruciferous vegetables, it protects your arteries from the friction layer that the bad cholesterol causes, reducing the risk of high blood pressure, blood clots, and cardiovascular disease.
The vitamin C levels also help. Vitamin C helps to protect the tissue around the heart, preventing damage due to oxidative stress. It will get into the cells, improving the development of cardiac myocytes to ensure the heart health is as good as possible. When the heart works more efficiently, it can pump more blood around and strengthen. Remember that the heart is a muscle!
You will also gain benefits for the heart due to the amount of calcium. This mineral is usually linked to bone health, but it also helps to reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, metabolic issues, and much more. You’ll be able to absorb more nutrients easier, and your metabolism will continue to work effectively.
Yes, you can get this from other cruciferous vegetables, but we go back to that taste benefit. Watercress is much more appealing to the taste buds because it isn’t as bitter!
Get More Calcium for the Bones
Your bones need calcium. Deep down you know that, but that doesn’t stop you from finding it hard to gain the mineral. You know you can get it from yogurts, milk, and other dairy products but what if you want to avoid them? What if you’re allergic or choose to eat a vegan diet?
Well, you need to look at the vegetables that have calcium. Watercress is full of it. This small vegetable packs a powerful punch, and since you’re more likely to eat it raw, you will find you gain more of the calcium in one serving. You don’t damage the nutrient through the cooking process.
More calcium doesn’t just mean stronger bones. It means you’re less likely to suffer from problems like osteoporosis and other bone diseases. These are common as you get older, especially in women.
At the same time, watercress has the folate you will need. This is a nutrient that is often lost in post-menopausal women but helps to protect the bones from osteoporosis. It will also help to keep the brain functioning healthily, protecting the tissues and connections.
Protect Your Brain and Avoid Mental Illnesses
Folate is linked to good brain health, so it shouldn’t be surprising now that watercress is good for the brain. The folate doesn’t just help to keep the cognitive functions intact. It can also help to reduce the risk of some mental illnesses, especially depression.
Most doctors will prescribe antidepressants to their patients, but you can gain a natural antidepressant through watercress. Studies have shown that those with low folate levels are at a higher risk of suffering from depression or having future issues with it. Folate improves the pathways around the central nervous system, improving the amount of serotonin that can be not just released but passed around the body. With the right levels of serotonin, your mood will be stabilized, and you’ll feel the positive effects throughout your body. This is known as the happy hormone for a reason!
But there are other benefits within the brain. The folate will help to improve all connections within the brain. It helps to maintain the development of tissues, reducing inflammation and keeping all parts of the brain connected and working. You’ll see better memory, concentration, and verbal fluency from the nutrient.
Studies have shown that getting more folate could help to reduce cognitive decline later in life. You can reduce the risk of dementia and other diseases.
On top of that, the vitamin C can help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other problems. The cells are more protected because of the watercress nutrients. Less oxidative damage occurs, and the cells can remain healthy and alive.
If you do have a stroke, you can see a full recovery thanks to the vitamin C. The antioxidant helps to reduce the amount of bleeding during the stroke and other traumas. It’s possible to prevent long-term damage, as it will be easier for the connections to repair and sustain. Vitamin C will also help to rebuild some of the connections. If they are lost, you’ll want to keep eating watercress and other foods that are high in vitamin C to repair the damage that has occurred.
Offers Benefits for the Eyesight
Are you worried about losing your eyesight later in life? We all tend to fear the development of cataracts. They are extremely common in older age, and everyone is at risk of getting them. However, you can reduce the risk of formation and the growth of them. Eating watercress is one of the best ways to reduce that risk.
It’s all thanks to the vitamin C again. Studies show that the vitamin C helps to promote the cellular growth and health. Healthy cells can prevent damaged ones covering the eyes, blocking the sight.
But that’s not all. There are also studies that show watercress has beta-carotene and lutein. Both antioxidants are linked to eye health. They can help to slow down the formation of cataracts and macular degeneration. If you don’t have either, you can prevent the development. If you have one of them, you won’t be able to repair the damage, but you can slow down and even stop the progression.
You can get all these benefits from other foods. The great thing about watercress is the ease of eating. You can opt for it as a quick snack to make sure you protect your whole health.
Boost the Immune System and Overcome Diseases
Oxidative stress is often viewed as a reason for cancer development, but that’s not all it does. It affects the whole health. Oxidative stress within the red blood cells can prevent the oxygen from getting around the whole body. The white blood cells and platelets are all affected, making it harder for the immune system to work.
And we can’t forget about what the inflammation does to the body. Inflammation is an immune response but doesn’t always mean there’s an infection to fight. The immune system believes there is, so it can’t fight the infection that’s there.
Watercress has the vitamin C to help prevent the oxidative stress and inflammation. There’s also vitamin E which can reduce inflammation and give the immune system a boost. Studies have shown that higher levels of vitamins C and E can help to reduce the effect that common colds have on the body. Common colds can’t be treated in other ways, and there’s no vaccine for them. They’re annoying and pesky viral infections that you can avoid with the right diet.
On top of that, watercress can help to overcome older diseases. Many children have asthma, but that doesn’t mean they have to put up with it in adulthood. Studies show that more vitamin C can help to reduce asthma symptoms and get rid of it by adulthood.
Natural Support During Pregnancy
There are many ways that watercress will help you through pregnancy. One of those is to the taste. Since it isn’t as bitter as other cruciferous vegetables, it can be easier to stomach. Even if you have severe morning sickness, you may find that watercress is relatively easier to stomach. It also has water, which can help to keep your hydration up when you feel you struggle to stomach anything.
On top of that are all the other health benefits we’ve considered. The vitamin C will help to keep your immune system boosted while you carry your unborn child. The folate doesn’t just help you but will also protect your baby’s development. Pregnant women are encouraged to get more folic acid (another name for folate) and naturally is always the safest and best.
Will You Add More Watercress to Your Diet?
There are many health benefits to this small vegetable. Being small, it’s often much easier to add to your diet. It’s time to look at how to use watercress in your daily life to gain from all the health and taste benefits.