I grew up eating Watercress but not in the traditional soups or salads. I am part Maori and traditionally, watercress is a staple in the diet, so every 2 weeks we would have what was coined The Boil Up. Fresh Wild Watercress was washed, removing the stalking bitter ends and then placed into a 7L stockpot with a bone of brisket and kumara (sweet potato).
30 years later it’s till one of my favourite meals. Growing up and I remember whenever I started to get run down or become sick, a pot of Watercress or Puha1 would be put on the stove and I would drink the broth that would “make me feel better soon”, and yes, it always did.
I’ve compiled below a number of reasons why and how this humble semi aquatic perennial should be added to your diet as soon as possible. Bon Appetite
- Hippocrates the Father of Medicine built his first hospital close to a stream to ensure a fresh supply of watercress was present for his patients.
- Watercress is predominantly made from water-soluble nutrients which means cooking will help to get the greatest absorption of nutrients.
- Watercress scores 1000, the highest nutrient density possible on the ANDI scale2 (aggregate nutrient dense index that measures the amount of nutrients in a food (carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals) related to the amount of energy (calories) in a food.
- Eating watercress daily can significantly reduce DNA damage to blood cells, which is considered to be an important trigger in the development of Cancer3.
- Very low in calories, super high in nutrients.
Vitamins present in Watercress and function within the body:
Vitamin A and Beta-carotene 64% of your Daily Recommended Intake*
Vitamin C contains 72% DRI* improves iron absorption and wards off infection.
Vitamin B1 supports the nervous system and assists in energy production.
Vitamin B6 helps the body to make antibodies which fight off many diseases.
Folic Acid important in cell growth and reproduction.
Vitamin E protects against heart disease and free radical damage.
Vitamin K contains 312% of the DRI* plays a role in preventing heart disease and clotting blood.
Minerals in Watercress and function within the body:
Calcium supports skeletal structure and function – essential for muscle contraction and blood clotting.
Iron produces hemoglobin in our blood, which carries oxygen around our body.
Iodine essential for normal thyroid function.
Manganese needed for skin integrity, bone production and to control blood sugar levels.
Magnesium helps to regulate mood, nerve and muscle function.
Phosphorous needed for healthy bones and teeth, energy metabolism, and acid base balance in the body.
Potassium essential for maintaining proper fluid balance, nerve impulse and heart muscle function.
Zinc important for strengthening immunity, keeps skin healthy and aids in wound healing.
1. Puha is a Native vegetable to NZ, very high in Vitamins A and C but more bitter in taste than watercress
2. Whole Food Markets Healthy Eating / ANDI Guide
3. University of Ulster 2007