What is watercress and why is it good for your gut?
Watercress is a leafy green vegetable in the Brassicaceae family of vegetables and similar to the slightly bitter taste of arugula. Once considered a weed, it was first cultivated in the UK in the early 1800s but is now grown in watery beds throughout the world. It is packed with antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, calcium, vitamin C, and manganese. One cup (34 grams) of watercress provides over 100% of the RDI for vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin necessary for blood clotting and healthy bones!
Watercress is extremely beneficial for our gut because it contains fiber and is very nutrient-dense. 1 cup of watercress contains 0.2g of fiber! Watercress is also rich in antioxidants and can help fight off oxidative stress and lower the risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. There was a study conducted comparing watercress and other cruciferous vegetables in antioxidant levels, and watercress outranked other vegetables when it came to its number of antioxidants and ability to neutralize free radicals. The study found that watercress contained over 40 different unique flavonoids. Flavonoids are beneficial to the gut because they help the gut maintain gut immune homeostasis, increase secondary bile acids, and promote nutrient absorption, especially fats and the fat-soluble vitamins (A,D, E, & K).
Watercress is a great food to add to your diet to diversify microbes in the gut, boost immunity, and prevent harmful diseases such as cancer.
Ways to eat it
Watercress is a delicious and nutrient dense vegetable that can replace any green! It can be eaten raw or cooked!
Add watercress to your sandwich or burger for a nutrient boost, or make it into a delicious watercress soup!
Add watercress into your salads or grain bowls.
Sauté watercress in your favorite spices and add as a side to your dinner.
Recipe: Tempeh Sandwich with Watercress
Ingredients (Makes 4 Servings):
4 slices bread of choice
1 cup watercress
3 tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 zucchini, thinly sliced
2 cups kale (collard greens work here as well)
1 Tbsp veggie broth
Himalayan pink salt, to taste
2 small avocados, thinly sliced
For the smoky marinated tempeh:
1 (8-ounce) package tempeh, sliced into about 15 slices
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup coconut aminos
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp date paste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
black pepper, to taste
Make the tempeh marinade in a small bowl, whisk together the veggie broth, coconut aminos, rice vinegar, date puree, cumin, paprika, and several grinds of pepper.
Place the tempeh in a shallow dish and pour the marinade on top. Gently flip the tempeh pieces to make sure all sides are coated with the marinade. Marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the tempeh from the fridge and place the strips on the baking sheet, reserving the remaining marinade.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until dark brown around the edges.
Remove from the oven and drizzle the remaining marinade onto the tempeh slices (can also use the air fryer).
Heat the veggie broth and sauté the zucchini, tomatoes, and greens until cooked down.
Assemble 4 sandwiches with the bread (toasted if you like), tempeh, sautéed vegetables, and avocado.
Heal with each meal!
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Groves, M. (2018, August 6). 10 Impressive Health Benefits of Watercress. Healthline.
Li, Z., Lee, H., Liang, X., Liang, D., Wang, Q., Huang, D., & Ong, C. (2018). Profiling of Phenolic
Compounds and Antioxidant Activity of 12 Cruciferous Vegetables. Molecules, 23(5), 1139. doi:10.3390/molecules23051139
Pei, R., Liu, X., & Bolling, B. (2020). Flavonoids and gut health. Current Opinion in Biotechnology,
61, 153–159. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copbio.2019.12.018
Spies, D. (2019, September 30). Clean Eating Watercress Soup. Clean & Delicious.