Watercress is a leafy green aquatic plant that's related to cabbage and arugula. Cultivated in Europe, Central Asia and the Americas, it has been used as both food and medicine for many years.
Watercress is a versatile herb that can be used as a salad green, steamed and eaten as a vegetable, or in soups and other recipes to add a subtle peppery flavor.
Health benefits of watercress
Used for centuries as a healing herb, watercress is a nutrient-dense ingredient that contains more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals. The most prominent nutrient found in watercress is vitamin K, with more than 300 percent of the daily recommended value. Vitamin K is essential for bone health and can help limit neuronal damage in the brain. Those who take Coumadin should limit their watercress intake due to its vitamin K content.
One cup of watercress contains 24 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, which makes it helpful in fighting infections. The herb is also a good source of vitamin A, which is essential for a properly functioning immune system. It is also a good source of copper, potassium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus.
Watercress contains more iron than spinach and more calcium than milk, which only adds to its bone health benefits. It is also a rich source of copper, potassium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus.
Regular consumption of watercress has been found to help prevent osteoporosis, anemia and vitamin A deficiency.
How to use watercress
As a leafy green, watercress is ideal for salads and sandwiches. To get more of this nutrition powerhouse in your diet, try these recipes:
Risotto with Shrimp and Watercress
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- kosher salt and black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp, chopped
- 1 bunch watercress, torn
Heat oven to 425° F. Heat the butter in a five to six-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until tender, three to five minutes. Add the wine and cook until syrupy, six to seven minutes.
Add the chicken broth and rice to the Dutch oven, stir to combine, and bake, covered, until the rice is almost tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the shrimp, stir to combine, and cook until opaque, six to seven minutes more. Fold in the watercress before serving.
Bacon, Potato and Watercress Salad
- 1 ½ pounds new potatoes, halved
- 4 slices bacon
- ½ cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 bunch watercress, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
Steam potatoes in a medium saucepan until tender, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool for five minutes. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, five to seven minutes. Let cool on paper towel-lined plate. Break into pieces. Whisk together yogurt, lemon juice ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add potatoes, bacon, watercress and chives. Toss to combine.