Watercress, which has botanical name Nasturtium officinale, is an aquatic plant that belongs to the member of the family Brassicaceae. Watercress is originated from the Europe and Asia, and being used as a medical plant by ancient Persians because of its efficacy to improve the aphrodisiac effects on them, as well as improving the brain activity.
But, do you know that watercress has tons of health benefits other than things that already explained above? Well, we already wrapped 32 health benefits that watercress could offer to your body. But, Before we take you to the health benefits of watercress, now take a look first at the nutritional facts of watercress.
Nutritional Facts of Watercress
|Nutritient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Vitamin C||43 mg|
|Vitamin K||250 µg|
Health Benefits of Watercress
After we take a look at the nutritional value that contained in watercress, now it’s time for you to take a look at the magical things that this herbal plant can give to the health of your body. Here are the health benefits of watercress.
Watercress as Top Source of Vitamin C
- Top Source of Vitamin C
Do you know that watercress is one of top source of Vitamin C? In fact, the amount of Vitamin C that contained in watercress is higher than the amount of Vitamin C that contained in an orange fruit. So, it is very essential to improve or maintain the Vitamin C in the body, since Vitamin C is one of the most important for the health of our body. The intake of Vitamin C in our body is very important to reducing the possibilities of having blood cell damage, repairing brain tissue, and any other diseases.
- Boost Your Immune System
Watercress is a perfect choice if you want to improve the immunity of your body. The high amounts of Vitamin C that contained in watercress would be a perfect weapon to protect your body from any diseases caused by fungi, bacteria, and virus. The great amount of Vitamin C means that it will release antioxidant which will fight against free radicals and any inflammation symptoms and thus, your immunity will be improved.
There was a study that makes an experiment to find out the link between consuming rich amounts of Vitamin C foods and the immunity improvement. The result of the study is the people who consume rich amounts of Vitamin C are less likely to suffer from common cold up to 66% compared to the people who are not consume rich amounts of Vitamin C foods on a regular basis.
- Prevent Cataract
The great amount of Vitamin C in watercress is also beneficial to maintain the health of your eyes. A study conducted in Europe suggests that Vitamin C that contained in watercress could be beneficial to protect you from eye disease like cataract, thus it will maintain the health of your eyes.
- Reduce the Symptoms of Asthma
The Vitamin C that contained in watercress turn out to be a good medication for pediatric asthma. A study conducted in children evidence that the children who consume Vitamin C of at least 0,2 mg on a daily routine shown an increase of forced expiratory volume (FEV). This study proved that Vitamin C could be very useful to reduce the symptoms of pediatric asthma.
- Boosts the Iron Absorption
Since watercress contains a high amount of Vitamin C, this plant would be really helpful to boost the absorption of iron in the body. Iron is a very important nutrient to transport the oxygen from the lungs to the other parts of your body. Vitamin C will stimulate the absorption of iron, especially the non-heme iron, which is uneasy to absorb without the help of Vitamin C.
- Reducing Oxidative Damage
The Vitamin C contained in watercress, if combined with the Vitamin E that also contained in it, would be very effective to reduce the oxidative damage to red blood cells. A research study has already proved that watercress could be beneficial to maintain the health in your blood, so the organs in the body will work properly.
- Healthier Brain
Consuming food that rich in Vitamin C, including watercress, will be very good to protect yourself from diseases that could be very deadly like Alzheimer or any other brain damages, and improving the outcomes of brain injury. According to the study, people who have lower levels of Vitamin C are more susceptible to suffer from sustained traumatic head injury. In fact, some studies also indicate that Vitamin C played a vital role in neuron activity.
- Healthier Cardiovascular
Some studies also indicate that watercress could be very potent to prevent you from any disease associated with cardiovascular. Watercress is a perfect source of Vitamin C, which then can release antioxidant and will protect you from the tissue damage caused by oxidative stress. The Vitamin C contained in Watercress would also be very active in the process of embryonic cells, thus it will keep your heart stay healthy and your LDL Cholesterol will be lower than before.
Watercress as Top Source of Folate
- Top Source of Folate
Aside from Vitamin C, watercress also contains high amounts of folate, which is an important nutrient, especially for pregnant women. Folate is widely known as the protector against the risk of having a birth defect and neural tube deficiency in the infants around the pregnant women. Also, folate is very beneficial for breastfeeding women. Aside from that, folate is really effective to prevent you from any kinds of disease such as stroke, breast cancer, colon cancer, and osteoporosis.
- Perfect Source of Antidepressant
Watercress is also can reduce and alleviate the depression because of its folate compound. In fact, folate can works together with neurotransmitter of the central nervous system to stimulate the production of serotonin hormone, which is an antidepressant hormone. A study that involving 15315 participants evidence that people with low level of folate will be more likely to having the risk of depression. The low level of folate in the body may caused by the excessive amount of alcohol. So, you better to reduce the consumption of alcohol and try to consume this healthy herbal plant.
- Maintain the Cognitive Function
The folate compound that contained in watercress would be very helpful to maintain the proper function of cognitive ability in the brain. There is a study that involving male participants aged between 50 up to 70, and they were given 80 mg of folate in regular basis. The result of that study is that the participants are not suffering cognitive decline and they also can maintain the verbal fluency. So, consuming watercress will be a perfect addition for the elderly people.
- Prevent Stroke
There is a study conducted on 662 participants that showed the sufficient amount of folate in the body can protect the participants from stroke disease. Consuming watercress could help you to replace the fortified food, which is beneficial to prevent stroke because watercress contain great amount of folate.
- Healthier Pregnancy
The folate that contained in watercress would be very beneficial too for women who are hoping to get the healthy pregnancy. Sufficient amount of folate during pregnancy will be important for the development of the embryo or fetus. Also, according to some studies, consume at least 400 mg of folate on a daily routine will be reduce the possibility of having neural tube deficiency during the pregnancy period.
Watercress as Anti-Carcinogenic
- Perfect Source of Anti-Carcinogenic
Watercress is widely known for its efficacy against many types of cancer because it contains the anti-carcinogenic compound, and there are many studies that has proved the greatness of watercress to overcome many diseases that could stimulate the activity of cancer cell in the body.
According to some studies, watercress has the ability to reverse the DNA damage to the white blood cells. The cells of the people who consume watercress regularly were more able to protect themselves from the appearance of hydrogen peroxide, which might cause more serious problem like cancer.
Also, there are some studies that the bitter taste of watercress comes from the phytochemical compound. This compound is very essential to stimulate the body’s natural defense that protecting the cells in the body. Also, the lutein and beta carotene content in watercress are believed to be very helpful as anti-carcinogenic that prevents the growth of cancer cells.
- Prevent Breast Cancer
Watercress contains a compound called phytonutrient which is very effective to protect you from cancer. This phytonutrient will increase the amount of molecules to the body’s circulatory system and thus, it will prevent the growth of breast cancer. Some experts suggest that you need at least 80 grams of watercress per day if you want to fully protected from breast cancer.
- Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Although this benefit needs more scientific studies because at the moment there are a lot of mixed results, but some studies indicate that eating watercress can protect you from colorectal cancer, as well as breast cancer. The folate that contained in the watercress might be the main compound that has responsibility as the protector of your body from this deadly cancer. However, this benefit was commonly seen if people consume folate regularly for 15 years or more.
Watercress as Top Source of Calcium
- Perfect Source of Calcium
Many researchers agree that watercress contains a high amount of calcium, which is very effective to protect you from many kinds of disease like cardiovascular, diabetes, and hypertension. Calcium through watercress is also shown to be safe against cardiac effects that can occur from the people who consume a high dose of supplements.
- Reduce the Osteoporosis
The calcium that contained in watercress will be very helpful to protect you from any kind of bone disease, especially osteoporosis. This calcium will play a vital role to strengthen your bones by stimulating the production of osteoblast. Alongside with the folate that also contained in watercress, the calcium nutrients will protect the bone density of people, from young to the old ones.
- Stronger Teeth
Since the watercress is a top source of calcium, it will bring the great effects on your teeth. When you are consuming this herbal plant, your teeth will become more powerful and stronger than before. In fact, chewing watercress is a perfect way to make your teeth become stronger than before. By chewing watercress, it will also cure the bleeding of the gum.
Watercress’ Other Health Benefits
- Regulate Thyroid
Watercress also contained a lot of iodine, which is very beneficial to regulate the amount of thyroid hormone. If the body are not controlling the production of thyroid hormone, you will be most likely to suffer from diseases such as goiter and hypothyroidism, which can lead you to many symptoms like cold, constipation, depression, and weight gain. So, consuming watercress is very perfect to stabilize the production of thyroid hormone in the body.
- Curing Coughs
Watercress contains a compound called sulphur glycosides, which is very potent to cure any disease associated with long-term bronchitis, especially coughs. Some experts say that sulphur glycosides have expectorant effects, which is a very potent weapon to overcome the disease related to chronic bronchitis.
- Maintain Blood Sugar Levels
The high soluble fiber contained in watercress would be very beneficial to act as hypoglycemic effect, which will reduce the absorption of carbohydrates from your intestine. Thus, no wonder that watercress might be can maintain the blood sugar level or treat high blood sugar which is very beneficial for people with diabetes. But, this benefit needs further research since there is still lacks of scientific evidence about it.
- Prevent Anemia
Watercress is also contain high amount of iron. The iron in the body would be good to provide hemoglobin to the body. This hemoglobin surely will increase the red blood cells in the body, which is very beneficial for people who are very susceptible to lose lot amounts of blood because of injury or during their menstrual period and pregnancy. Thus, the addition of watercress which contain iron will prevent you from the disease of anemia.
- Healthier Hair
Watercress contains a lot of nutrients which is also beneficial for the health of your hair such as minerals, zinc, and vitamins. The zinc that contained in watercress would be very beneficial to keep the bacterial infections away from your hair, and Vitamin A will facilitate your hair to re-growth. By any means, watercress is a perfect plant to act as an anti-dandruff , which encourages the much better hair.
- Prevent Hangover
You can suffer from a hangover when you are consuming alcohol excessively, which then make your liver gets very full. Watercress, if you consume it as a juice, will be really effective to cure the hangover feeling because watercress will stimulate the cleansing enzymes to detoxifying your liver, thus you won’t feel the hangover again.
- Aphrodisiac Effects
Watercress is commonly known for its aphrodisiac effects. In fact, the ancient Romans and Persians use this plant as an aphrodisiac, so that they libido will significantly increased after consume it. Watercress is known for its efficacy to increase the production of sexual hormones like testosterone, mainly because of its high content of zinc and iron.
- Prevent Heart Disease
Watercress contains 1961 mcg of a beneficial compound called lutein. This lutein compound would be an advantage to stop the creation of coronary artery disease and heart attack. This lutein will protect your body from any heart disease by preventing the growth of dangerous arterial plaque. This watercress also contains a compound called zeaxanthin, which also essential to keep the health of your heart.
- Prevent Diarrhea
As already mentioned above, watercress would act as a cleansing agent, which then will maintain the amount of healthful bacteria in the intestine and prevent the growth of bad bacteria that will cause a digestive problem like constipation or diarrhea. In addition to that, watercress also contains soluble fiber and sufficient amount of water which will serve as an outstanding diuretic and helping the digestion of foods.
- Good for Digestive System
Like any other leaves, watercress leaves contain high amounts of chlorophyll, which have various enzymes that can support the digestive system within our body. Those enzymes from watercress’ chlorophyll are essential to help the body to absorb the nutrients from the food that we just ate, thus it is a sign that the digestive system in our body is healthy. But, you need to consume it uncooked since boiling the watercress beforehand would kill the digestive enzymes in the watercress’ chlorophyll.
- Weight Loss
Since watercress is very low in calories (about 18 calories per serving), this plant would be really beneficial for everyone of you who want to lose some weight. This watercress would give you various beneficial nutrients without adding too much calories in your body. Also, watercress contains dietary fiber and amino acids, which will make you’re not getting hungry for short amounts of time and ensure that your stomach remain full longer than before.
- Manage Gallblader Function
Consuming watercress could be very beneficial too to manage the gallblader functions. With its high amounts of water, watercress will help to diminish the harmful toxins which block the gallblader functions. But, always remember whilst smaller gallstones will benefit from watercress, in some serious cases you still need to consult to your doctor or taking surgical treatment.
- Purifying Effects
The act of cleansing agents from watercress would also very beneficial to purifying the body. Watercress would increase the diuresis, which efficiently eliminating the toxins through the entire body.
Tips on How to Pick and Store the Watercress
After those tons of health benefits that the watercress could offer for the health of your body, you might be interesting to consume it. But, you might also wondering how to pick the good watercress on the store and how to store it. Here are some tips that you need to see so you will get the best watercress.
- While you’re in the store, make sure that you pick the watercress that has thick, broad, and deep green fresh color leaves. The darker the color of the leaves, the more quality of watercress that you can get.
- Don’t buy any watercress which has yellow leaves.
- After you purchased the watercress, you should submerge it in the water to eliminate any kind of contaminants and also, you should eliminating the watercress leaves that have a yellow color.
- Stored it in refrigerator for up to 3 days after you purchased it.
- Alternatively, you can store the watercress in a glass of water to increase the storage time up to 5 days after you purchased it. But, remember that you still need to change the water everyday or the color of the leaves started to discolor
Consumption Tips on Watercress
After you know how to pick and store the watercress, you might wondering how to serve it, so you will get the full advantage of watercress. Here are some consumption tips to enjoy the watercress.
- You could slice the watercress and add them into soup, salad, omelets, casseroles, pies, and any other dishes just before serving.
- You also could use the watercress as a juice. Just prepare your juicer and blender, add 4 or 5 watercress leaves into the blender, add some water, and strain it afterwards. You could add some sugar or honey to reduce the bitterness of it.
- You could use the watercress as skin lotion and apply it on your face by combining 1 tbsp of honey with 4 tbsp of watercress juice. Stored the mixture in the bottle and keep it in the refrigerator after you’re not using it. You can apply this healthy lotion twice per day, in the morning as well as in the evening.
- You could use the watercress as a tonic for your healthy hair. Put 100 grams of chopped watercress, add them with 1 teaspoon of geranium oil and 100 ml of alcohol, such as vodka for example. Shake the mixture several times each day for about 2 weeks as well as strain it in the bottle. Finally, just wipe this tonic to your scalp everyday for the health of your hair.
Watercress Side Effects and Warnings
Although watercress will bring you a lot of benefits to your health, but there are few side effects and warnings that you need to consider regarding this watercress plant. Here are few side effects and warnings regarding the watercress.
- People that suffer from hyperthyroidism need to avoid the consumption of watercress because watercress have a high amounts of iodine. But, in case you are insisting to consume it, you should talk to your doctor first.
- People who suffering from bladder inflammation are also suggested to avoid the consumption of watercress, because watercress could inducing bladder pain effects.
- Consuming watercress excessively is also not recommended since taking this watercress excessively would cystitis due to its powerful diuretic qualities.
Now, you already know everything about watercress. Since this herbal plant could give you tons of health benefits, you are strongly suggested to try to consume it. But, remember that like any other herbal plant, the watercress would taste bitter as usual and to overcome this problem, you need to add some sugar or honey to add some taste or simply you can apply it on your skin. Stay healthy with watercress.