Wonderful watercress A-Z!
Wednesday 07 April 2010
Celebrity chefs love it, health professionals rave about its amazing nutritional properties, scientists are discovering its cancer fighting potential and nearly every supermodel’s detox diet is full of it.
Check out the wonders of watercress from A-Z!
A is for Vitamin A
Watercress is a rich source of Vitamin A converted from beta carotene with 80gs providing 42% of the RDA. It is necessary for healthy eyesight, skin and immune function.
B is for the Brassica Family
Watercress is a member of the healthy Brassica family, and is related to broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, rocket and radish and should not be confused with mustard and cress.
C is for Cancer Protection
Eating watercress daily can significantly reduce DNA damage to blood cells, which is considered to be an important trigger in the development of cancer. The research, carried out by the University of Ulster, Coleraine, and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (February 2007), found that in addition to reducing DNA damage, a daily portion of watercress also increased the ability of those cells to resist further DNA damage caused by free radicals.*
D is for Detox
Watercress is a favourite detox ingredient containing mustard oils which boost and regulate the activity of the liver’s enzymes. For a great ‘morning after’ cocktail, peel and dice one mango and whizz it in a blender with 1 bag of watercress and up to 500 ml pure apple juice.
E is for Eye Health
Watercress is a source of nutrients associated with the maintenance of normal vision and eye health, including vitamin A, C and E, alpha–linolenic acid and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, and beta carotene. Higher intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin-rich foods have been associated with a lower incidence of eye disease such as cataract and age related macular degeneration.
F is for Folate
A cereal bowl of watercress (80g) provides 18% of the RDA. The most commonly known folate is folic acid. They help reduce the risk of spina bifida during pregnancy and works with vitamin B12 to help keep the circulation healthy. Folates are also important for healthy red blood cells and the nerve function.
G is for Glucosinolate Family
What makes watercress unique is its high levels of a type of glucosinolate called glucose-nasturtium which releases phenylethyl isothiocyanate, or PEITC. PEITC gives the plant its unique peppery flavour and in scientific studies has been shown to increase the body’s potential to resist certain carcinogenic (cancer causing) agents.
H is for Hampshire
Hampshire is renowned as the UK’s centre of watercress farming’, providing an abundance of crystal clear chalk spring water in which to cultivate the plant.
I is for Iron
Gram for gram, watercress contains more iron than spinach, 13% of the RDA per 80gs. Watercress is also rich in vitamin C, a better source than oranges, which is known to increase the absorption of iron.
J is for John Gerard
The herbalist John Gerard extolled the virtues of watercress as a remedy for scurvy in 1636. No doubt in those days it was far easier to come by than oranges – a foreign extravagance.
K is for Kardamon
The ancient Greeks called watercress kardamon; they believed it could brighten their intellect, hence their proverb “Eat watercress and get wit.”
L is for Lutein
Watercress contains Lutein that acts as an antioxidant, which can mop up potentially damaging free radicals. Lutein is considered to be very important for eye health.
M is for Ministry of Health
Watercress was a staple ingredient in school dinners and several experiments conducted by The Ministry of Health in the 1930s concluded that watercress was excellent for promoting children’s growth. It was the most nutritious of all the foods they tested, bar raw kale.
N is for ‘Not just a bit on the Side’
Despite its noble history, watercress sales declined with the import of the other trendy salad leaves. In 2003 British watercress producers responded with a promotional campaign called “Not just a bit on the Side.”
O is for ‘On the Go Food’
In the Victorian period street sellers would buy watercress from Covent Garden Market and form it into bunches, which was eaten in the hand, like an ice cream cone - the first ‘on the go food’.
P is for Peppery
The peppery leaves and succulent stalks act as a stimulant to the digestion and to the taste buds. The Romans called it “nasturtium,” which translates as “twisted nose.”
Q is for Quercetin
Watercress contains Quercetin, a type of Flavonoid and a powerful antioxidant meaning it may help to protect the body against damaging free radicals. Studies also suggest it has anti-inflammatory effects.
R is for Rothwell
Steve Rothwell is known as the industry’s “Doctor of Watercress”. He has an Applied PhD in Nutritional & Environmental Physiology of Watercress, gained at The University of Bath in 1983.
S is for Sandwiches
The watercress industry continued to thrive during both World Wars when the country had to rely on home grown produce and watercress sandwiches at “high tea” became almost a national institution.
T is for Toothache
In Victorian times people thought watercress was a cure for toothache!
U is for Underrated
After years of being dismissed as nothing more than a garnish, watercress is at last achieving the recognition it deserves as King of salad leaves.
V is for Versatile
Watercress is incredibly versatile; you can use it in anything from soups and sandwiches, to salads and stir-fries.
W is for Weight Control
Watercress is low in fat and calories with 18 calories per 80g portion. Liz Hurley is said to drink up to six cups of watercress soup a day when she’s on one of her famous diets.
X is for Xmas
Decorate the Xmas turkey platter with garnishes of watercress – it’s great for mopping up the gravy and meat juices.
Y is for Youthful
17th Century philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon claimed watercress could “restore a youthful bloom’ to women.
Z is for Zeaxanthian
Watercress contains Zeaxanthian, a type of carotenoid that acts as an antioxidant, meaning it can mop up potentially damaging free radicals.
To get your hands on some great watercress-inspired recipes, head over to www.watercress.co.uk