Tasty Tuesdays – Watercress Salad

Watercress has become increasingly popular due to its rise in availability at grocery stores and its enjoyable crunch and peppery taste.  This recipe takes only a few minutes to prepare and is refreshingly delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of watercress
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 fresh lemon
  • Salt & pepper

Directions

  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil and fresh juice from half of one lemon.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Roughly chop the watercress (including the stems) and add to the dressing.

Interesting Facts

Watercress is an excellent nutritious addition to most salads and soups.  This semi-aquatic plant, native to Europe and Asia, is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K.  Although 1 cup contains only 4 kcal, it also holds 0.2 g of total dietary fiber, as well as substantial amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and folate (USDA, 2012).  Watercress is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family which is highly studied because of their sizeable concentrations of glucosinolates (Manchali et al., 2012).  Numerous studies have suggested that these organic compounds are valuable contributors to the prevention of many cancers, as well as heart disease (Traka and Mithen, 2009).  An interesting study by Tang et al. (2010) explored the relationship among smokers and former smokers in regards to consumption of cruciferous vegetables.  The results showed a significant association between increasing the intake of cruciferous vegetables and a decrease in the risk of lung cancer among both smokers and former smokers.  Although there is important evidence concerning these health benefits, further exploration into this subject is necessary.  Watercress is also an excellent source of various carotenoids such as lutein.  This pigment is important for eye health (Ribaya-Mercado and Blumber, 2004) and may play a role in preventing the development of plaques in the arteries (Gill et al., 2007).  Undoubtedly watercress is an excellent vegetable, rich in many nutrients.  However, the benefits of watercress have likely been known for ages.  Rumour has it that even Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, constructed his hospital close to a running stream in order to have a plentiful supply of fresh watercress for his patients.

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