Wonderful watercress

Watercress is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family (along with kale, broccoli, cauliflower for example) and is rich in many nutrients including vitamin C, E and K, calcium, beta-carotene, iron and iodine. Iodine is often lacking in the western diets of today and we need it to make two important thyroid hormones – thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These thyroid hormones are important during foetal development, infancy and childhood, in the normal development of the brain and nervous system.  Importantly too, for conception, watercress is a rich source of the vital B vitamin Folate, which is crucial for DNA duplication in the egg and sperm cells and in the prevention of neural tube defects. Watercress is also a great source of vitamins C and E, which have been linked to improving sperm quality and quantity.

The non- haem iron found in watercress helps to prevent anaemia and has also been linked to reducing the symptoms of PMS and the magnesium (often known as the happy mineral) within watercress is good for balancing hormones and mood. Watercress is naturally low in fat. The little polyunsaturated fat it does contain has a high proportion of the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), part of the omega 3 fatty acid family, which in relation to fertility is important for helping reduce inflammation, balancing hormones and may help to improve sperm quality. 

So why not include more wonderful watercress into your daily diet?

Health benefits of watercress:

Watercress provides us with many other important health benefits too, including:

–  As a digestive aid – watercress contains a good amount of the pigment chlorophyll   – which is rich in digestive enzymes and so helps the body to use and absorb nutrients from food.

–   A natural diruretic – it is rich in potassium. Potassium is important in the regulation of blood pressure.

– Fighting infections such as colds and flu (immune system support) – acts as a natural antibiotic.

– Helps to detoxify the skin – rich in sulphur which helps promote protein absorption- leading to healthy skin and hair.

– Linked in studies to potentially reducing the risk of certain cancers such as – bladder, rectum, colon, lung and breast cancer.

– Rich in the B vitamin complex – needed to make serotonin (a mood boosting chemical).

–  High in vitamin K -important for blood clotting and bone strength and formation.

–  Watercress is also a great source of vitamins C and E, which have been linked in studies with improving sperm count. Watercress has also been found in studies to help repair DNA damage.  

 – Anti-ageing: Watercress is rich in age defying antioxidants that may help to prevent or slow the oxidative stress induced by free radical damage.

– Watercress can be grown throughout the year. It is always a good idea to purchase organic watercress where possible to avoid pesticides, and to avoid potential contamination with harmful bacteria.

Enjoy watercress in/with:

  • Oatcakes
  • In salads
  • Soup
  • With fish/chicken/bacon
  • In stir fries
  • With pasta
  • In sandwiches/wraps
  • As a garnish with game
  • In stews/casseroles
  • Add to juices

 

Tasty Watercress soup

By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)

225g (8oz) watercress, roughly chopped

450ml (16fl oz) vegetable stock

1 onion, chopped

2 teaspoons Olive oil

1 leek, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced

1 large potato – diced

450ml (16fl oz) milk of your choice (just use water if you don’t like milk)

Freshly ground black pepper or freshly grated nutmeg, to taste and garnish

 To make

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan; add onion and leek and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add potato and watercress; cook for a further 3 minutes or until watercress wilts, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the stock and milk. Bring to the boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked and tender, stirring occasionally.

Remove pan from heat; cool slightly. Puree soup in blender or food processor until smooth; return soup to rinsed-out pan. Alternatively, use a hand-held blender to carefully puree soup in pan until smooth. Reheat soup gently until hot, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with black pepper or nutmeg. Serve and enjoy!

 

Watermelon, feta, red onion and watercress salad

By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)

Ingredients
Serves: 6 (adjust amount as required)

  • 1/2 red onion thinly sliced 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 
  • 600g seeded, cubed watermelon 
  • 100g feta cheese, crumbled 
  • 75g pitted Black olives (optional) 
  • handful chopped fresh mint 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 120g Fresh watercress


To make:

Place the onion slices in a small bowl with the lime juice. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon cubes, feta cheese, olives and onions with the lime juice and mint. Drizzle olive oil over it all and toss to blend. Place the watercress onto plates and then spoon the salad over the top. Enjoy!

 

Watercress, strawberry and fennel salad (makes 2 portions)

By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)

Ingredients

1 packet of watercress

1 thinly sliced fennel

12 strawberries, sliced (organic where possible)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Handful of almonds or walnuts

How to make

Place the watercress, fennel, strawberries, and mint in a large bowl and toss gently to combine.

Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top and mix.

Scatter the almonds or walnuts over the top.

Enjoy! This is also tasty with feta cheese or goat’s cheese crumbled over the top.

 

Watercress super boost juice!

By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapist)

Ingredients:

1 apple (chopped)

1 slice of pineapple

1 small handful of spinach

1/2 stick of celery

1/4 inch piece of ginger

1 handful of watercress

Splash of water or apple juice

Handful of ice

Place all of the ingredients into a juicer or blend, add ice and enjoy!

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