If you want to roll back the years, forget expensive creams and lotions! A recent study shows that adding one bag of watercress a day to your diet can improve your skin tone and reduce wrinkles! In the new study, 10 out of 11 female volunteers experienced visible improvements to their skin after just four weeks of adding one bag of watercress a day to their diet. One woman even managed to reduce her facial wrinkles by an incredible 39 per cent! Incredible, right? The majority of women also reported increased energy levels. During the trial, the volunteers made no other changes to their usual health and beauty regime. They were allowed to eat their daily quota of watercress in any way they chose – in salads, sandwiches, whizzed into smoothies or wilted into pasta, however it was not allowed to be cooked, only to be consumed fresh.
Watercress usually grows along the banks of slow-running streams and rivers in Europe, Asia and America. It is characterized by its small, round leaves, with a pungent, peppery flavor. The small white flowers appear in flat clusters are called corymbs. The fresh, tender leaves of watercress have to be harvested just before flowering, because after flowering they become bitter and are no longer good to eat. The health benefits of watercress have been known since ancient days, when it was used as an aphrodisiac by royalty. Watercress has plenty of health and therapeutic properties. However, due to its strong, pungent and bitter taste, it is never used alone, but is always added to juices, salads or other dishes as an ingredient, flavor or garnish.
Benefits of Watercress:
Anti-anaemic Effect: Watercress is particularly helpful in treating different types of anemia due to its high content in iron. Iron is essential for the synthesis of hemoglobin, and folic acid, which plays a key role in the maturation of red cells in the bone marrow. The right amount of vitamin C in watercress also makes better absorption of iron.
Anti-inflammatory Properties: Watercress is rich in vitamin C, which has an anti-inflammatory action and can help prevent or relieve the symptoms of cold, flu and other types of inflammation.
Anti-oxidant and anti-cancer Effects: Just as many other herbs, watercress is rich in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidant substances help prevent or fight the damage caused by free radicals to body tissues, thereby contributing to prevent premature aging, as well as lower the risk of developing cancer and many other chronic or degenerative diseases.
Aphrodisiac Effect: Several historical sources show that watercress has been used for its aphrodisiac effect since the age of the ancient Romans and Persians. This could be due to its high zinc and iron content.
Blood Glucose: Although not definitely proven, it seems that watercress can help control blood sugar levels and prevent or treat high blood glucose. It is probable that the hypoglycemic effect of watercress is in part due to its high content in soluble fiber, that helps reduce the absorption of carbohydrates from the intestine. This effect is particularly helpful for individuals with diabetes.
Bone Health: The right proportion of calcium, magnesium, manganese, vitamins A, C and K in watercress helps promote and maintain healthy and strong bones.
Cough: The sulphur glycosides found in watercress have been shown to modify bronchial secretions and exert an expectorant effect, which can be used to treat many forms of chronic bronchitis.
Digestive Function: Watercress does improve digestive function, due to its high content in vitamin C and fiber, which stimulate salivary and gastric secretions and the motility of the intestinal tract respectively.
DNA, preserve: In a laboratory test, it was found that daily consumption of watercress increase the ability of cells to resist DNA damages to lymphocytes (white blood cells).
Eye Health: The high content in phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin are potent anti-oxidants; together with vitamin A and zinc all in this herb help greatly improve eye health.
Hair Health: Watercress can be used topically to treat dandruff and prevent hair loss, due to its sulfur, iron, zinc and vitamin A content. The best results are obtained by rubbing the scalp and the hair with a watercress tincture.
Hangover: A hangover happens when the liver gets overloaded with toxic alcohol. Watercress juice is so concentrated with so much cleansing goodness that it activates the detoxifying enzymes in the liver for detoxifying a hangover.
Purifying Effect: Watercress has been used for centuries for its purifying effects. It enhances the diuresis and helps give the colon a good “spring-cleaning”, thereby effectively removing toxins from the body.
Skin Health: When used topically, watercress juice can be helpful in relieving skin eczema, as well as other skin conditions. Its high content of vitamin A and C best obtained by juicing are also beneficial for healthy skin.
Teeth: Chewing watercress makes teeth stronger. It also cures bleeding of the gum or gingivitis.
Thyroid Gland: The high iodine content in watercress can help prevent goiter, improve the function of the thyroid gland and relieve the symptoms of many forms of hypothyroidism.