From ancient times, Romans talked about the health benefits of watercress; Greeks believed it was a great brain food and strengthened the nervous system; and Persians used it as a source of strength and stamina for their wars, and as a growth food for their children. In fact Hippocrates, the father of medicine, recognized the health benefits of this cruciferous vegetables. In the Middle Ages, the Salernitan School of medicine recommended rubbing watercress juice into the scalp to strengthen and thicken the hair. Watercress has been recognized in herbal history as a cleaning herb for purifying the blood and toning the whole system.
Research has found that a diet rich in green leafy and cruciferous vegetables has been associated with lower risk of certain cancers, coronary heart disease, age-related
macular degeneration and skin health. And watercress has eared its place as a favorite veggie in an alkaline diet, because of its 8.1 alkalinity in metabolic reaction when we eat it, and its high content of nutrients. Read on to learn the many benefits of this alkaline food.
Watercress is a hardy perennial, native to Europe, but now it is grown in every continent. Its name comes from the Latin and it means “to bear a cross”, because of the cross-like form of its flower.
Very few foods have a larger array of vitamins and minerals than watercress. This super food is rich in vitamins A , B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B17, C, D, E, and K. It si also a great source of minerals, containing calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, sodium, magnesium, copper, manganese, sulphur, iodine, germanium, silica, and zinc. And if that wasn’t enough, it is also rich in fiber and carotenes.
Watercress works in our body as an antibiotic and antibacterial, because of it’s high content of antioxidants. It also helps as a diuretic, an expectorant, a digestive, and even a tonic. It has the power to cleanse and revitalize our bodies. Because of its highly diuretic qualities, some experts recommend not to eat it in excess as it may put you at risk of cystitis, or other bladder problems. But eaten as part of a balanced alkaline diet, this vegetables has nothing but great things to offer.
The many uses of this vegetables go from breath freshener, because of it’s high chlorophyl content to countless therapeutic uses. These including coughs, colds, bronchial ailments, tuberculosis, asthma, emphysema, stress, pain, arthritis, diabetes, anemia, constipation, cataracts, night blindness and eye health in general (because it contains a high level of two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin), leukemia, cancer, hemorrhaging, heart conditions, eczema, edema, bleeding gums, weight loss, indigestion, intestinal parasites, circulation, menstruation related ailments, lack of energy, kidney and gall stones. Watercress has also been used as a brain and nerve strengthener and to treat and prevent depression. It helps with ailments of the spleen, thyroid, and liver; to normalize cholesterol and blood pressure; to improve memory, and mental function, and to retard ageing; for failing or scant milk supply of nursing mothers; to regulate flow of bile, health of glands, including the prostate, and the functions of body metabolism. Watercress increases sexual energy and enhances fertility. Together with seaweed, watercress is one of the best sources of iodine, which is important to the function of the thyroid gland. People with hyperthyroidism should avoid its intake, or consult with a their health professional before making it part of their routine.
Watercress is an excellent source of chlorophyll. Dr. Robert Willner in his book ‘The Cancer Solution’ states that chlorophyll is an effective anti-cancer substance, with antioxidant action. Chlorophyll is rich in digestive enzymes. These enzymes make it easier to digest heavy foods, such as starches and protein.
Second only to horseradish, watercress contains more sulphur than any other vegetable we eat. Sulphur rich foods play an important part in protein absorption, blood purifying, cell building and in healthy hair and skin.
The potassium content of watercress is valued for weight loss, as its diuretic action draws excess fluid down and out of the body.The rich calcium is of great benefit for teeth and bone health. Watercress is a also good sorce of germanium. In her book ‘Germanium, a new approach to immunity’, Betty Kamen Ph.D. talks about the benefits of plants that contain this mineral. Germanium acts as an antiviral, antibiotic, a body detoxifier; an oxygen carrier and catalyst; strengthening bone-mass, the immune system and biologically stimulating electrical impulses at cellular level. Germanium also plays a role as an adaptogen, helping the body react to imbalances in its system, and empowering it to both heal itself, and prevent illnesses.
Watercress is fantastic for skin health, both by eating and applying externally as a lotion. Fresh juice may be applied to the face and skin to fade freckles, spots and blotches, and to clear acne, blemishes, pimples, and blackheads. Traditionally, the juice was applied at night, and washed off in the morning. For a beauty skin lotion, mix 1 tablesp. of honey with 4 tablesp. of watercress juice. Bottle and keep in refrigerator. With cotton wool, dab the lotion on the skin morning and evening, taking care to avoid the eyes.
Terri Teague and Mildred Jackson in ‘The Handbook of Alternatives to Chemical Medication’ list watercress as, ‘A wondrous source of nutrients for the body and to help clear cancerous growths’. Likewise, in his book, “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,” Dr. Jonny Bowden lists it as one of the very most healthful vegetables that you can eat.
Monash Medical Centre’s leading research nutritionist, reported watercress was one of a number of foods, including green tea and soy products, which could interrupt one of the key pathways of developing lung, breast and bowel cancer. Researches at the University of Southampton also found it as a good food to prevent breast cancer. One portion of watercress is enough to increase the anti-cancer molecules in the blood. It can help prevent cancer from starting, and help those that are recovering from cancer, by not letting the cancer to regrow. It contains nasturin, which is a unique type of phytochemical. This phytochemical turns into PEITC in the body. The PEITC inhibit the growth of different kinds of cancer and helps in the production of breast milk. Several scientific studies have linked watercress consumption to lowered rates of cancer risk in both smokers and non-smokers. Other studies have demonstrated its ability to protect our DNA.
This veggies has small leaves, bug big health benefits. Give it a try as part of your alkaline lifestyle. How do you like it best? Share with us your favorite watercress recipe.