Health Benefits Of Watercress
Watercress, a super food
Watercress is considered one of the oldest leafy vegetables. It belongs to the family related to mustard, broccoli, cabbage and radish. It has a peppery, tangy flavour. There are scientific claims that watercress has lots of health benefits. The Chinese believe in the health benefits of watercress. From my observation and a few years selling vegetables in New Zealand, there are not many types of leafy vegetables available for Caucasians. In fact when I was in New Zealand, I didn’t come across watercress, less selling it. In Asia, there are lots of different types of leafy vegetables. The Chinese usually cook watercress in soup with pork ribs, dried oysters, dried cuttlefish and red dates. The watercress soup is believed to give lots of health benefits, especially in aiding digestion. Watercress is now recognized as one of the world’s super food. Watercress is rich in vitamins A, B, C and K, plus iron, folic acid, calcium, betacarotene and many other essential minerals. Eating watercress can prevent migraine. The vitamin K content helps to prevent insomnia, while the high contents of betacarotene and vitamin A, ensure healthy skin and eyes. In fact watercress is a traditional herbal remedy for skin eruptions.
Watercress prevents and fights cancer
Perhaps the most important claim is that watercress is rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants. Phytochemicals are chemicals that occur naturally in fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants prevent cancer causing free radicals from multiplying. Both these compounds are believed to have effective properties to suppress and prevent many types of cancer from occurring. Many scientific studies have been done on watercress on its health benefits, especially its cancer-fighting properties.
One study conducted by the Cancer Research Center of the School of Medicine, Southampton Hospital in the United Kingdom, found that watercress was as effective as the chemotherapy drugs, tamoxifen and herceptin. Scientists at Southampton University found that eating 80 grams of watercress daily, the equivalent of a single vegetable portion, could increase the level of cancer-fighting molecules within hours after consuming the watercress. They also found that watercress could inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. Professor Graham Packham of the University of Southampton found that watercress contained the compound called phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) which had anti-carcinogenic properties and could prevent the growth of new blood vessels in cancer tumors. Another research finding by the Institute of Food Research in Norwich found another compound in watercress called methylsulphinylalkyl isothiocyanates (Sulforaphane). Both these compounds are glucosinolates (GSLs) which are a group of phytochemicals. These two compounds are found to be effective in destroying cancer cells as well as stimulating cell defence systems.
Another study published in February 2007 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that daily watercress consumption could reduce DNA damage as well as prevent DNA damage by free radicals. When we exercise vigorously, the increase in demand for energy can cause a build-up of free radicals which can damage our DNA. Scientists at Edinburgh Napier University and Ulster University published their findings in the British Journal of Nutrition, that daily consumption of watercress could help protect against this damage.
For a detailed academic dissertation please go to this link.
Chinese watercress soup
Many ways to eat watercress
As I wrote earlier, the Chinese always cook watercress in soup. This Chinese-style soup is not similar to Western-style soup. The Chinese soup is consumed together with other food items with the rice; whereas, Western soup is consumed as is.
For Caucasian readers, the following suggestions are more suitable:
· Eat with sandwiches
· As part of salad
· Add in soup
· Add to pasta sauces
· Bake with fish
· Add to stir fries
- Watercress Soup Recipe : Chinese Style
Watercress soup, Oriental style, or to be more specific, Chinese style. Simple recipe with lots of healthy nutrients.
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