Watercress: The Leafy Green You Should Be Eating
It’s finally spring, which means the watercress is hitting the stands here in Europe! And if you’re like the me from two months ago and have no idea what this leafy green is or how to use it, fear not. We’re gearing up for a whole two weeks of watercress adventure! But first, some learns.
For those unfamiliar with this veg, watercress is one of the oldest leafy greens us humans have eaten. It’s a water-growing plant that’s in the same family as mustard and cabbage, giving it a distinctly spicy, peppery, pungent flavor.
How to Buy Watercress
Look for dark, crisp leaves that are free from bruised, yellow spots.
Types of Watercress
In addition to traditional water cress, there are a few varieties which are nearly interchangeable with it. These are actually different plant species, all differing a bit in flavor and texture.
- Garden Cress: Spicier flavor, like horse radish.
- Upland Cress: Thinner stems and more delicate flavor. This variety often comes in plastic bags, with the cress still attached to the roots.
- Korean Watercress: More crunchy and bitter.
How to Store Watercress
Like most leafy greens, watercress is highly perishable, so you should only store it for a couple of days. If you bought it in a bunch, either wrap the stems in a damp cloth and cover the leafy end with a plastic bag, or place the stems in a glass of water and wrap the leafy ends in a plastic bag (both methods should be stored in the fridge).
How to Prepare Watercress
Rinse and pat dry, then cut off the thick parts of the stems. Then you can either saute it for about a minute (as you would spinach), steam it, or eat it raw!
Watercress Nutrition Information
per 1 cup (34 g)
- Calories: 4
- Carbohydrates: 0.4 g
- Fiber: 0.2 g, 0% Daily Value (DV)
- Protein: 1 g
- Fat: 0 g
- 106% DV of Vitamin K: A fat-soluble vitamin that allows for activation of enzymes in the clotting cascade, which is responsible for blood clotting. Also builds bone by modifying osteocalcin so that it may bind calcium, thus building the bone matrix.
- 24% DV of Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant to fight against potentially damaging free radicals (molecules with unshared electrons that float around wreaking havoc) and an important cofactor in collagen synthesis.
- 21% DV of Vitamin A: Provides the provitamin version of this fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it comes from a plant source and your body converts the plant pigment into active Vitamin A. It is essential in many components of healthy vision, as well as immunity and cell growth/differentiation.