Watercress: small but mighty – and tasty too!
It’s been said that Hippocrates located his hospital beside a stream, so he could grow lots of watercress to help treat his patients. As it ranks No1 on the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control list of nutrient-dense foods, he clearly knew what he was doing!
Popular in Victorian times, but less appreciated these days, the potent mix of nutrients and phytonutrients found in watercress could make it a valuable food in supporting the body’s natural defences, contributing to overall health and well-being. It is an especially good provider of vitamins A, C, E, while one cup (35g) of chopped watercress can provide our daily vitamin K needs. Part of the cruciferous family (think kale, broccoli, rocket) it contains very high levels of nitrate, which have shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the amount of oxygen needed during exercise, enhancing athletic performance. Foods high in nitrates (celery, beetroot, spinach) have been shown to have multiple vascular benefits, according to the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. As it also contains high levels of chlorophyll, which has been shown to be effective in blocking some carcinogenic effects that results from cooking meats at high temperature, be sure to eat it if it’s a garnish on your steak!
NOTE: If you are taking blood thinners don’t eat too much vitamin K rich food, as it plays a role in blood clotting. When on medication always consult your doctor for specialised dietary guidance.
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