Why Watercress Is a Super-Healing Food

Super-Healing Foods: Page 5

By , Caring.com contributing editor
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Watercress soup

Not only is watercress extremely nutritious, it's about as close as you can get to a calorie-free food. Calorie for calorie, it provides four times the calcium of 2 percent milk. Ounce for ounce, it offers as much vitamin C as an orange and more iron than spinach. It's packed with vitamin A and has lots of vitamin K, along with multiple antioxidant carotenoids and protective phytochemicals.

The nutrients in watercress protect against cancer and macular degeneration, help build the immune system, and support bone health. The iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen to your body's tissues for energy. The phytochemicals in watercress battle cancer in three ways: killing cancer cells, blocking carcinogens, and protecting healthy cells from carcinogens. They've also been linked to lower risk for lung and esophageal cancer and can help lower your risk for other cancers.

In Chinese medicine, watercress is thought to help reduce tumors, improve night vision, and stimulate bile production (improving digestion and settling intestinal gas). It's used as a remedy for jaundice, urinary difficulty, sore throat, mumps, and bad breath.

How much: Eat watercress daily if you can. In some regions, it's more widely available during the spring and summer, when it's cultivated outdoors. But since it can also be grown hydroponically in greenhouses, you can find it year-round in many grocery stores and at your local farmer's market.

Tip:

  • You can cook it, but watercress is better for you when you eat it raw. Tuck it into a sandwich in place of lettuce.

  • Toss it with your favorite vegetables and eat it in a salad.

  • Watercress is great in pesto -- just replace the basil with watercress -- and soups.

  • Use watercress as a wonderfully detoxifying ingredient in a juice or smoothie.