Peppers, tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers, all chopped up over mixed greens. All the makings of a perfect salad. Right?
There might be an even better salad ingredient that you’re missing out on, says BreAnn Erickson, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist with the Digestive Health Institute in Shelton and Bridgeport.
“Watercress, which was recently named healthiest vegetable by the CDC, offers plenty of benefits that you won’t want to miss out on,” she says.
Watercress – a type of cabbage that grows in water – is similar to arugula, but with a more mild flavor. It’s commonly used as a base for a salad, with a tenderness that makes it easy to sauté or add to a sauce.
Here are three reasons to add more watercress to your diet.
1. It keeps you hydrated.
If reaching the “You Did It!” line on your motivational water bottle is starting to seem like a fantasy, you might need a new way to get extra water in your diet.
“Like most leafy greens, watercress can be a great way to improve hydration,” says Erickson. “In general, fruits and veggies add a lot of fluid to your diet. If you’re struggling to drink enough water every day, watercress might be the answer you’re looking for.”
2. It’s a great source of vitamins.
Packed with nutrients, the vitamin content of watercress spans the alphabet.
“It’s an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K,” says Erickson. “This can help with bone health, blood clotting, vision, and immune health, to name just a few of the benefits.”
But that abundance of Vitamin K comes with a caution.
“People on blood thinners should be careful adding foods rich in Vitamin K to their diets. Foods like watercress, broccoli and asparagus could interfere with the effectiveness of those medications,” Erickson warns.
3. It can promote weight loss.
With all those nutrients and almost no calories, watercress can be a great addition to your weight loss plan.
“One cup of chopped watercress only contains four calories. For comparison, a cup of mixed greens has 71,” Erickson notes. “Even lettuce and spinach have twice as many calories as watercress.”
Erickson recommends adding watercress to your typical salad, or using it for sandwiches or wraps. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try adding it to a smoothie, soup or pesto.