Watercress For Healthy Eating

Watercress For Healthy Eating

Studies have shown that people who eat plenty of vegetables known as cruciferous vegetables have lower rates of cancer and heart disease. Cruciferous vegetables are those whose flowers resemble a cross such as broccoli, cauliflower and watercress. (affiliate link) All of these vegetables are thought to help reduce the risk of both cancer and heart disease.

What is Watercress

Watercress, a member of the Mustard family, is a hardy perennial (affiliate link) that grows best in gently flowing cool water. With its tiny delicate leaves and thick stems watercress looks quite a bit different from other salad greens.  A casual observer might think it is more like a weed you would pull from the garden.

Watercress is a dark green, leafy vegetable which is packed with beta carotene and very easy to incorporate into a healthy diet. Watercress is loaded with antioxidants which are important in lowering your risk of heart attack, some cancers, and cataracts.

How to Use Watercress

Watercress is best eaten in its natural state, fresh and crisp.  It contains phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), a natural compound that scientists believe helps in cancer prevention. Watercress looks a little different than most other greens you may put in a salad but in spite of its delicate appearance, it has a very pungent, peppery flavor.

A one cup serving of watercress provides 24% of the daily value for vitamin C which is another valuable disease fighting antioxidant.  Antioxidants help sweep up cell damaging oxygen molecules from your body.

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Tips for Using Watercress

  • Mix fresh watercress with other greens in a salad.
  • Find fresh watercress in the produce department of  local food stores or grow it in pots set in water on a windowsill.
  • Add watercress to soups and stews using just the leaves or the thinnest stems. It will add a peppery flavor to dishes and make them heart healthy.
  • Add it at the end of cooking as watercress does not need much cooking time.
  • Add watercress to sandwiches instead of lettuce for a tasty, crunchy meal.
  • Add plenty of watercress to cooked foods as it shrinks quite a bit when cooked.
  • Store watercress in a plastic bag in the refrigerator to keep it fresher longer or keep it stems down in a refrigerated glass of water covered with plastic.
  • Eat watercress raw for its maximum benefit and eat it often!

Easy to Prepare Recipe for Watercress

You will need:

  • 4 Bunches Watercress (about 1 pound)
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons Red or White Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Nonfat Plain Yogurt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Ground Black Pepper

Rinse the watercress under cold water and cut off and discard the biggest stems. Dry gently with paper towels place the watercress in a large bowl. In a small bowl combine mustard, vinegar, yogurt, honey and oil. Whisk until smooth and season to taste with the pepper. Pour over the watercress and toss gently to coat. Makes about four servings.

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