Watercress is life.
Often seen as a garden-variety garnish that one scrapes off an entrée, lowly watercress could conversely be the holy grail for health.
This nebulous-looking vegetable has been deemed an essential part of a balanced diet due to its bounty of nutrients that can stave off disease and protect athletes from workout-induced injuries, B&W Quality Growers wrote in a press release.
“Athletes [who eat watercress] benefit from strenuous exercise with less potential for tissue damage,” the food firm claimed in the statement.
It apparently tastes good, too.
“We use watercress in salad for its peppery freshness,” Andrew Chase, owner of Lower East Side Austrian standby Cafe Katja, told The Post. “It really wakes up your tastebuds!”
The health perks are due to the fact that, in part, the pungent superfood — which resides in cool, flowing water bodies throughout Eurasia, despite being introduced to North America — is the most nutrient-dense veggie on earth, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
It scored a perfect 100 out of 100, beating out Chinese cabbage (91.99 points), Swiss chard (89.27 points), beetroot (87.08 points) and even spinach (86.43 points) in the CDC’s vegetable rankings.
Perhaps Popeye should have inhaled a can of watercress instead of spinach before uppercutting his nemesis Bluto.
The plant panacea has high levels of amino acids — essential elements of protein that aid everything from digestion to neurotransmitter production — as well as antioxidants.
The latter compounds are the body’s defense against damage caused by “free radicals,” or essential compounds that the body produces during rest, exercise, rigorous activity and converting food into energy.
While essential for life and muscle function and, in turn, adapting to exercise, a free radical-antioxidant imbalance can cause delays in muscle recovery and damage muscles — and can even play a role in the development of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Eating watercress can potentially offset side effects in athletes, too: Studies show those who ingest it two hours prior to exhaustive exercise greatly lessen their chances of cell damage, compared to those who did not.
Meanwhile, consuming watercress daily for just two months decreased DNA damage, effectively providing athletes with all the benefits of grueling exercise with the damaging downsides.
Other benefits include large amounts of iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and Vitamin K — the latter potentially preventing cell damage in the brain, according to a Vogue report that grandly labeled watercress “the healthiest food in the world.”
In addition, consuming just 100 grams of the herb fulfills the majority of the requirement for Vitamin C and reportedly contains more than even citrus stars like oranges and lemons.
Perhaps it’s unsurprising that the hot, new superfood is in the same mustard-green family as kale, the popular one-time “It vegetable” and has been the lifeblood of billionaire-dollar roughage mongers like Sweetgreen.
That was before it came out that the alleged fibrous fountain of youth was not nearly as healthy as advertised and contained an alarming amount of pesticides and “forever chemicals.”
But how does one get people to eat watercress, a vegetable that looks like it should be served alongside vitamin pellets in a Galapagos tortoise enclosure?
B&W suggests that people “get juiced up on that leafy green goodness daily by adding watercress to salads, smoothies, sandwiches, wraps, omelets, pizza and more.”
And it’s not just vegans and health gurus espousing watercress’ virtues.
Andrew Chase, whose restaurant Cafe Katja is famous for serving sprawling platters of porchetta and bratwurst, told The Post that he uses the wonder green to “offset the richness” of the meat.
“We fluff it up with frisée [curly endive] and serve it with schnitzel and steaks,” the restaurateur said.
Meanwhile, Chase added, gourmands who like their watercress with an Asian accent — not to be confused with Chinese watercress which, while delicious and certainly healthy, is a different species — can douse a watercress salad with carrot dressing, like the one at New York Vietnamese restaurant Nha Trang One.
Perhaps it will only be so long before the vegetable-averse plow through watercress like a combine harvester.
But don’t overdo it, as the herb’s essential mustard oils — which act as a natural cough suppressant — can also cause bladder, kidney and stomach irritation if consumed in excess, according to Vogue.
Moderation is key — even with the alleged holy grail of health.
#declared #worlds #healthiest #food #heres #eat