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The tangy, juicy-crisp superfood has been a cult wonderfood during just about every major epoch. Liz Hurely swears by it to fast-track a bit of extra slimming, Egyptian Pharohs reputedly gave twice-daily watercress juices to make their slaves build faster, and the Greek’s believed it sharpened their wit. Even the Greek god Zeus was a fan and Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine, insisted his first hospital was built next to a stream so he could grow watercress to treat his patients.

Watercress is the most ancient of green vegetables known to man and its use can be traced back to the Persians, Greeks and Romans.

[edit] Why should I be aware of this?

  • Watercress is a natural multi-vitamin, body cleansing detoxicant.
  • It is a curative powerhouse
  • It tastes good.
  • Watercress is a better source of vitamins C, B1, B6, K, E, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Zinc, and Potassium than Apples, Broccoli, and Tomatoes.
  • Watercress is a superfood of amongst vegetables.

[edit] All about watercress

A hardy perennial found in abundance near springs and open running watercourses, of a creeping habit with smooth, shining, brownish-green, pinnatifid leaves and ovate, heart-shaped leaflets, the terminal one being larger than the rest. Flowers small and white, produced towards the extremity of the branches in a sort of terminal panicle.

Recent chemical analysis of Watercress reveals that the beneficial effects are due to its generous content of vitamins A and vitamin C, and the minerals calcium and iron. Watercress also contains credible amounts of folic acid and Lucien. It is also considered an excellent functional food for the prevention of cancer and related diseases.

The United States, with its abundance a pure running water, proper soils and atmospheric conditions is the most highly favored country in the world for raising aquatic plants like watercress. These favorable conditions had made it possible for large-scale commercial watercress cultivations in the United States.

[edit] Nutrition Facts

In one cup of chopped (34 grams) watercress

  • Total Fat -- 0g
  • Saturated Fat -- 0g
  • Cholesterol -- 0mg
  • Sodium -- 14mg or 0%
  • Total Carboydrates -- 0g or 0%
  • Dietary Fiber -- 0g
  • Sugars -- 0g
  • Protein 1g -- 1%
  • Vitamin A -- 31%
  • Vitamin C -- 24%
  • Iron -- 0%
  • Calcium -- 4%

[edit] Watercress and health

Anti-cancer: Today over 50 scientific studies have found it contains compounds shown to inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells with some of the most conclusive studies finding positive results on colon prostate and breast cancer cells. In fact it is the richest known food source of a plant chemical called glucosinolates which release an anti-cancer substance called Petic – it’s this that gives watercress its distinctive peppery flavour.

Detox-Master: Glucosinolates are also the substances which pep-up and regulate detoxification enzymes in the liver which is why watercress is such a master detox-food.

Smoker’s friend: It’s also been touted as a hangover cure, its one of the richest sources of antioxidants meaning it zaps highly active damaging elements called free-radicals which contribute to cancer and aging and its good for smokers. A recent study found when smokers ate watercress with each meal for three days it protected smokers against a key tobacco carcinogen.

Nutrient low-down: It’s brimming with Vitamin C, Calcium and iron - Gram for gram it’s got more Vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk and more iron than spinach. It’s also packed with folate (the natural version of folic acid that’s essential for women trying to conceive and foetal brain development).

[edit] What can I do?

[edit] Cooking & Storage

  • Store watercress in the fridge with its stems in water and use it soon after buying.
  • Cooking can destroy up to 60% of watercress’ anti-cancer properties so keep any cooking light and short.
  • The darker the leaf, the older the plant and the higher the concentration of the anti-cancer substance Peitc.

[edit] 'Dressings & Sauces

Watercress Pesto

You’ll need:

  • A bag/bunch of fresh watercress
  • A handful of basil leaves
  • A clove of garlic
  • A handful of pinenuts
  • Five Tablespoons of Olive Oil ( 3 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp of hemp, flax or omega-3 blended oil)
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper

Serve with grilled fish or chicken, on pasta or as a spread or dip with vegetable crudities.

Green Mayo

Chopped watercress adds kick and colour to mayonnaise.


  • A bag/bunch of fresh watercress
  • A handful of parsley
  • 150 ml/ ¼ pint mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp soured cream or natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp of French Mustard

Place all the ingredients in a liquidiser and blend until smooth.

Watercress Infused Olive Oil

Whizz up a bunch of watercress in a blender and pass through a finely meshed sieve and add extra virgin olive oil and store in bottles.

[edit] Juices, Drinks and Smoothies

Watercress is perfect for juicing. Combine it with other vegetables like carrots, beetroot, apple and celery for the ultimate detox drink.

[edit] Soups And Salads

Watercress has a natural affinity with citrus fruits so it goes well with orange or grapefruit segements and works beautifully dressed with lemon or lime juice.

Mix together a salad of watercress and rocket, toss the leaves in olive oil (or other healthy omega-3 rich oils) squeeze lemon juice and a twist of black pepper and top with mackerel filliets.

[edit] Celebrity Favourites

Liz Hurley’s Slimming Watercress Soup Cooking time: 15 minutes Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 2 pints stock
  • the skins of 3 potatoes
  • 2 bags watercress


Delicious served hot or cold, Liz Hurley swears by this healthy, low-fat soup, drinking up to 6 cups a day when she’s dieting. Sweat a chopped onion in a small amount of stock, then peel a thick layer of three potatoes and add seasoning and another 2 pints of stock. Bring to the boil and simmer until the potatoes skins are soft Throw in 2 bags of watercress and stir for 3 minutes. Take off the heat and liquidize

Celebrity Chef Antony Worrall Thompson’s Thai Grilled Watercress Salmon

Preparation time: 10 minutes plus marinating Cooking time: 10 minutes


  • 100g watercress, roughly chopped
  • 18 mint leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 green chillies, seeds removed
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar (optional)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (Nam Pla)
  • 4 x 175g salmon fillets

Watercress Raita

  • 200ml Greek yogurt
  • 100g watercress finely chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Place the watercress, mint, salt, garlic and chillies in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add the lime juice caster sugar, ginger and fish sauce and process to make a paste. Place the salmon in a glass dish or plate, spoon over the paste and toss until evenly coated. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge, for at least 20 mins.

Whilst the salmon marinates, mix the yogurt, watercress and garlic together with seasoning to taste. Spoon into a bowl and chill until required. Cook the salmon on a hot griddle or barbecue for 4-5mins on each side. Serve with the watercress raiita on the side.

Watercress In Everyday Meals

  • The distinctive peppery flavour of watercress make it a perfect partner for eggs. Use it to fill an omelette or stir it into softly scrambled eggs.
  • Fold watercress into cottage cheese or ricotta and use as a filling or spread.
  • Watercress jazzes up any sandwich or wrap adding flavour and crunch. Try it with salmon, hoummous or cheese.
  • Throw watercress into stir-fries at the last minute and cook until wilted
  • Mashed potato with a difference -- Remember potatoes are high GI so keep portions small and perk up plain mashed potato by adding a peeled garlic clove to the potatoes while they boil.
  • Drain and mash with a knob of butter, a spoonful of whole grain mustard and stir through soe roughly chopped watercress and plenty of ground pepper.

[edit] References

  • http://news.ulster.ac.uk/releases/2007/2998.html
  • http://www.watercress.co.uk/health/chart.shtml
  • http://www.watercress.co.uk/medical/superfood.pdf
  • http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/health/dietfitness.htm.in_article_id=436358&in_page_id=1798
  • http://www.lse.co.uk/ShowStory.asp?story=GE1534106Y&news_headline=watercress_diet_can_cut_the_risk_of_cancer
  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6360601.stm
  • http://www.watercress.co.uk/medical/