The Benefits of Eating Watercress

| 8/3/2011 4:12:03 PM

L.HoltIf you missed the show, Dr. Oz recently spoke with Dr. Nicholas Perricone about anti-aging foods for skin health, and one suggestion was the herb watercress. Dr. Oz recommended eating watercress as a cancer preventative. It should be eaten raw 3 to 5 times per week and it’s said to be most effective against skin and breast cancers.

Watercress (Nasturii herba) is rich in iron, iodine, vitamins A, C and E, antioxidants and folate. In addition to the skin health and cancer prevention benefits of this herb, the iodine may aid in remedying hypothyroidism. According to Dr. Oz’s website, salmon and watercress together are especially effective at reducing the risks of leukemia and kidney cancer. The German Commission E stated in 1990 that watercress can also be used to treat upper respiratory tract infections, but should not be used by children under 4 years old, people with stomach or intestinal ulcers, or those with inflammatory kidney diseases.

Watercress is most beneficial when eaten raw, and makes a great, peppery salad when paired with salmon and a light dressing.
Photo by Alfred Lui/Courtesy

Dr. Perricone’s book Forever Young has more to say on the subject. As an anti-inflammatory, watercress is useful for treating eczema, acne and other skin irritations, and generally contributes to healthy skin. It’s also considered a liver tonic and was used by Greek and Persian soldiers to increase stamina and improve health. In Victorian England it was regularly eaten by the working class to ward off scurvy. Eighty-five percent of the calories in watercress are due to protein, which may help with weight management.

Another guest on the show, Kate Geagan, who wrote Go Green, Get Lean, recommends eating watercress with lean proteins or mixed into a salad to improve eye health. Its peppery taste adds depth of flavor to more customary greens.The ancient Romans ate it with simple olive oil and vinegar.

Want to try this beneficial herb and take advantage of its health boosts? Check out these recipes from the Herb Companion archives to get your 3 to 5 servings a week.

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