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It is one of the least consumed ‘superfoods’, but science considers it the healthiest vegetable. It’s watercress and you can even grow it at home. Here are the benefits that make it the almost perfect vegetable and why you should start incorporating it into your diet.
All experts agree that vegetables are a must in any healthy diet, due to the benefits they provide. But when it comes to choosing the best, it seems that watercress takes the prize, as determined by several scientific studies.
Jennifer Di Noia, Ph.D., of William Paterson University in New Jersey, compiled a ranking of the healthiest fruits and vegetables in 2014. Included in this list were green leafy vegetables and orange/yellow vegetables, citrus fruits and cruciferous vegetables, all foods that are associated with reduced chronic disease. Di Noia’s team analyzed more than 40 foods to calculate nutrient density, based on the percentage of the recommended daily value of 17 nutrients each contains per 100 grams (they were limited to this figure so that no one nutrient would have more weight than the others). The nutrients considered included iron, vitamin C, fiber, zinc and folic acid.
Watercress, the ultimate superfood
Researchers at William Paterson University determined that a food was potent if it scored 10 or higher; while the highest possible score was 100. Among all its benefits, the study noted that watercress is rich in vitamin A and C, which boosts the immune system and makes it a potential anticarcinogen. It also provides useful amounts of vitamin K and calcium, to strengthen bone health. In addition, it is rich in nitrates that can lower blood pressure. It also provides thiamine, vitamin B6, potassium and iodine, in addition to being naturally low in sodium.
Due to its high water content (93%) it is low in calories and contains very few carbohydrates and fats, but provides some protein. Watercress also contains the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin, which improve eyesight and help prevent and control diabetes, among many other benefits. Completing the ranking were other foods such as Chinese cabbage (with 92 points), Swiss chard (with 89), beet greens (87) and spinach (with 86). You can consult the complete list here.
Moreover, for all its potential, watercress is a vegetable whose price is not very high. Plus, it’s easy to grow at home. So if you want to improve your diet and your health, you’re definitely going to have to start incorporating this superfood into your diet.