[Recipe] Salads: cool, colorful, satisfying and filled with nutrition – what can adding watercress bring to the table? This relative to broccoli, arugula, and other cruciferous veggies is an aquatic plant found near slow-moving streams and springs. Watercress has been cultivated in Europe, Central Asia, and the Americas for millennia for use as both food and a medicine. Let’s find out more about this delicate leafy plant with a peppery flavor that has even more vitamin C than oranges. Article links from Mercola.com are below, and where numbered resources can be viewed.
Health Benefits of Watercress – Watercress earned its reputation as a healing herb quite early. Around 400 BC, Hippocrates located the first hospital on the island of Kos close to a stream to ensure that fresh watercress would be available for treating patients. In the 1700s, Nicholas Culpeper (author of Culpeper’s Herbal) believed watercress could cleanse the blood. Modern science has identified more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals contained in this one herb – more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk, and more vitamin C than oranges.
Vitamin K is by far the most prominent nutrient in watercress, with 312% of the daily recommended value. It forms and strengthens the bones and limits neuronal damage in the brain, which is helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease. There’s also vitamin C, with 72% of the daily value, closely followed by vitamin A with 64%. Vitamin C provides top-notch infection-fighting power to stave off colds and flu, help maintain healthy connective tissue, and prevent iron deficiency. Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is essential for a properly functioning immune system and produces pigments in the retina of the eye, an absence of which can cause night blindness.
Manganese is a cofactor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase, and calcium for strong bones and teeth come in high doses when you eat watercress. Antioxidant flavonoids like ß carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein protect from lung and mouth cancers. B-complex vitamins include riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid, all important for keeping your cellular metabolic functions at peak performance.
Besides the Taste, What Makes Eating Watercress Worthwhile? Scientific evidence indicates that watercress contains more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals. A list(2) of the medicinal properties of plants and their remedies, including watercress, reveals a number of traditional healing advantages to eating this delicate, green, natural vitamin:
- Respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis
- Cuts and puncture wounds
- Boils and abscesses
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Metabolic diseases
- Liver disease
- Fluid retention
- Mouth ulcers
An epic study at a New Jersey university reviewed a wide assortment of fruits and vegetables to determine their nutritional value for classification purposes, but also their ability to reduce chronic disease such as cancer. These foods were referred to as “PFV” — aka “powerhouse fruits and vegetables” — based on the content of each in regard to 17 nutrients deemed to be most important. Those nutrients were: potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K.(3) Regarding that last one, watercress brings an astonishing 106 percent of the vitamin K you need in a single day. What that means for you is that if you have any tendency toward developing cardiovascular disease, eating this veggie can go a long way toward preventing it. Even if you already suffer from this illness, consuming healthy amounts of watercress can reverse some of the damage.
Because watercress grows in water, it should be washed thoroughly, then soaked for half an hour or so in cool water with hydrogen peroxide added (around one tablespoon per quart) to remove any pollutants, parasites, or other impurities. For optimum freshness, watercress can be submerged in water and stored in the refrigerator for two to three days. Before eating, rinse again and separate the leaves from the fibers and roots.
When soaking any veggies with hydrogen peroxide, I would recommend that you use the food grade peroxide. Watercress would be a perfect vegetable to grow in an aquaponics system, we will look further at this gardening style soon. For now let’s create a tasty salad with watercress.
Adding watercress to our salads can offer variety of texture, flavor and many nutrients! Enjoy your lunch (or dinner) with this watercress salad recipe:
Watercress, Spinach, and Pear Salad
(From Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type by Dr. Joseph Mercola)
- 2 cups watercress, trimmed, use sprigs
- 2 cups spinach, rough chopped
- 1½ pounds pears, (1 large or 2 medium)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
- ¼ cup smooth almond butter
- 1½ tablespoons sugar (or raw honey)
- 2 tablespoons water or more if needed
- ½ teaspoon chili paste, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- Place watercress and spinach in a large bowl. Cut pears into thick matchstick-like slices. Toss gently with the watercress and spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Drizzle dressing over salad and garnish with grated carrot and toasted sesame seeds.
Salads are a delicious way to fight off the ‘afternoon drags’ that so many other lunch meals used to bring on for me. Give them a try for yourself… Mmmm… Enjoy!
Feature & Article Image Source: Flickr