We’ve all seen the commercials, read the superfood claims, even tried the superfood recipes. What makes a food a super anything? What in the world is a superfood and how will it provide practical results? Let’s examine one superfood that will knock your socks off when you discover the benefits it can supply. What can this seemingly unattractive, ordinary, weed looking leafy vegetable do for you?
For starters, it has more health and nutritional benefits than most in it’s class and in addition, can help you feel more energetic, fight disease and lose weight to boot. Superfoods are foods that are especially rich in nutrients and antioxidants. They give more power to your nutrient punch. Watercress is such a food and is considered to be natures first aid.
Yum yum in your tum-tum. This “A” list, nutrient filled green is incredible! But first, what is this?
Watercress is an aquatic plant species. A rapidly growing perennial plant native to Europe and Asia and is one of the oldest leaf vegetables consumed by humans. Production and growth of watercress here in the US comes from facilities like Watercress Farms in Myakka City, Florida.
Dr. Jennifer Di Noia, P.hd of William Patterson University in New Jersey is credited for a study on nutrient dense fruits and vegetables. Watercress comes in at the top with an impressing 100.00 as a nutrient density score. Followed by Chinese Cabbage 91.99 and Swiss Chard 89.27. This score is measured by considering 34 different nutrient parameters including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (plant substances that have beneficial health effects) such as flavonoids and carotenoids. The higher the score, the more nutrients are provided in relation to the calorie content.
Using this system, watercress was found to be the most nutrient dense fruit or vegetable. This study also included such fruits as blueberries and raspberries. It is interesting to note that while berries are often phrased for their antioxidant qualities, it is not considered an essential nutrient.
While you cannot base your entire diet on this system, it presents a viable guide in considering what foods to eat. An entire list of nutrients that are considered in the score can be found here.
Exploding with essential vitamins and minerals, watercress gram for gram gives you more Vitamin C than oranges, more Vitamin E than broccoli, and more calcium than whole milk! Not only has it been found to prevent ageing in the skin, but research has discovered a significant link between watercress and cancer prevention. Now that is indeed a superfood.
Where to buy?
Most supermarkets carry a fresh supply of watercress but you can also grow this superfood in your garden. Wikihow has a great how to article.
How do you eat it?
Many watercress recipes can be found online, but here is a quick one that I’m sure you’ll find delicious. You’ll need:
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 bunch watercress (remove the thick stems and discard)
- 1 small fennel bulb thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice in a medium to large bowl. Add the watercress, fennel and pomegranate seeds. Lightly toss to combine. Then add salt and pepper to taste. That’s it! Serve immediately. If you don’t mind a little wilting, this can also be served cold, just don’t leave in the fridge too long.
Watercress has become one of the top foods in the quest to stamp the importance of nutrition on health. It has proven remarkable benefits in the numerous nutrients that it provides and it tastes good too. It is certainly a superfood must have on your next grocery trip!
Featured photo credit: Samuel Adams via samueladams.com