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Watercress: A Bouquet of Protection


Have you thought of what to give your special someone for Valentine’s day? Give your sweetheart a special treat by saying goodbye to chocolates and hello to a bouquet of watercress! Watercress is part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale, and has all of the same cancer-fighting capabilities. It is a delicate green that has dime-sized leaves and a strong, peppery flavor. Because it is a dark green, leafy vegetable, it is loaded with beta-carotene—a nutrient that helps to fight heart disease, which is currently the number one cause of death in America today, as well as other diseases that are associated with aging, such as cataracts and arthritis.

The health benefits of watercress have been known and applied since ancient times. Like the other vegetables in the cruciferous family, watercress is known to be a fantastic source of anti-cancer compounds and is especially high in a cancer-fighting compound known as isothiocyanates. These compounds help to fight cancer by neutralizing the toxins that cause, or lead to, cancer. They neutralize the toxins by reducing their poisonous effects and by helping to release "carcinogen killers," which speeds up the removal of the carcinogens (cancer-causing toxins) from the body.

Watercress is unique from the other cruciferous vegetables in that it has a really high amount of a particular isothiocyanate, called PEITC, as well as another group of chemicals from the sulfur family, known as sulforaphanes, that help to prevent cancer. Because watercress is so high in isothiocyanates, it is a particularly good food to help prevent lung cancer caused by smoke and second-hand smoke. Lung cancer is caused by an incredibly high amount of free radicals (carcinogens) in smoke. The isothiocyanates help to remove these toxins from the body before they can lead to cancer, which helps therefore to slow or prevent lung cancer occurrence. To see a benefit however, watercress needs to be eaten regularly. Researchers believe watercress to be one of the best cancer-fighting vegetables, because it has kind of a "triple whammy" effect: it helps to kill cancer cells, stop potential cancer-causing toxins from leading to cancer, and increase cellular defenses against carcinogens.

Watercress also helps to protect against heart disease. The beta carotene in watercress is an antioxidant that has been scientifically linked to lowering rates of heart disease. The high amount of vitamin C and magnesium, also heart-healthy nutrients, contained in watercress help keep the heart strong.

Calorie for calorie, watercress has four times the amount of calcium and six times the magnesium as milk, making it a great food for bone health. And, gram for gram, watercress has just as much vitamin C as do oranges and more iron than spinach! Watercress is as close to a calorie-free food as there is: a full cup has only four calories! And with those four calories you get vitamins A, C, K, and carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are essential for strong eye health.

Watercress is most often eaten raw, but can also be cooked. Cooking does help to eliminate some of the bitter flavor, but reduces or eliminates the live enzymes at work when it's raw.

Fennel and Watercress Salad


  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Sunwarrior Sea Salt
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil 6 bunches watercress - rinsed, dried
  • and trimmed
  • 3 bulbs fennel - trimmed, cored and thinly
  • sliced
  • 3 small heads radicchio, cored and
  • chopped
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted

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