Watercress, botanic name- Nasturtium officinale, is an aquatic or semi-aquatic plant which is native to Asia and Europe. It is dark green and leafy, and it grows in spring water. Also this cruciferous plant has been known since centuries as a mineral rich plant and was a staple in Roman times.
But this plant has been ignored or overlooked in the past few years; and has only been used as a garnish. But given to the numerous health benefits of watercress, the plant is coming back as a super-food.
The plant has many nutrition benefits, immunity boosting, and cancer preventive abilities. Here is a list of health benefits of watercress:
1. Watercress as an Anti-Depressant
Another very important function of the folate content in Watercress is to work as an anti-depressant. According to studies, low levels of folate can result in increased risk of succumbing to depression. Folate works with neurotransmitters and can regulate the production of neuro-chemicals like serotonin. Watercress, the folate rich food, can thus work as an antidepressant.
2. Watercress as a Part of Cancer Prevention and Treatment
As per studies, the cruciferous vegetables contain a compound named- 3.3’-diindolylmethane, (short for DIM) and that this compound contains cancer preventive properties. In fact, some recent studies have shown hope of using this compound as a protective tissue shield in the course of cancer treatments.
3. Watercress in Lowering Blood Pressure
A diet that is deficient in the quantities of minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium are prone to the risk of high blood pressure. The reason is that these minerals regulate the blood pressure by eliminating sodium from the body and also dilating the arteries.
According to a study in British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (2013), watercress which is rich in dietary nitrates produces multiple vascular benefits. Lowering blood pressure is one such benefit.
4. Watercress has Positive Effects on Thyroid Health
Watercress belongs to the brassica family under the cruciferous vegetable botanical tree. All these cruciferous vegetables have been recorded to be beneficial for thyroid health. The plant works by reducing the production of the thyroid hormone. Though the best way to consume this plant is raw, slight steaming of the plant will not lead it to lose its nutritional benefits and value.
5. Watercress and Bone Health
Watercress is a very good source of calcium and folate both of which are good for bone health. The calcium repairs the bones and curbs the risk of osteoporosis according to studies; while the folate content in the plant acts as an interactive nutrient which works in maintaining the bone density.
6. Watercress is Rich in Vitamin K, Hence Good for Neuron Health/ Alzheimer’s Patients and Bone Health
As stated above the plant is rich in calcium which promotes good bone health. But another component found in abundance in watercress is Vitamin K which promotes bone formation. Also the consuming ample vitamin K is recorded to reduce the neuron damage in the brain. It is hence considered as effective in treating patients of the Alzheimer’s disease.