Watercress juice may be one of the most underrated green juices out there but as a leafy green, watercress has been around for ever. In fact, it’s one of the oldest leafy greens to ever be consumed by humans.
This aquatic, fast growing peppery little plant has been cultivated since the time of ancient Egypt and that doesn’t only have to do with its great taste, watercress has a lot more to offer when it comes to health. And they knew about it even back in the day. It’s rumored that Hippocrates, the father of medicine, intentionally located his hospital beside a stream to make sure he had a constant supply of watercress when treating patients.
Greek general Xenophon insisted that his soldiers eat watercress before going to battle to increase vigor and performance. Even ancient Egyptian Pharaohs are said to have given their slaves freshly squeezed watercress juice to increase performance and productivity.
Which brings us to the many, many ways you can benefit from this incredibly healthy leafy green…
8 Incredible Watercress Juice Benefits
They’ve been using watercress juice for health and medicinal benefits since the 4th century. Now that we’re in the 21st century, let’s find out what modern studies have to say about this marvelous leaf. Here are best health perks you get from drinking watercress juice!
Incredibly rich in nutrients
More than 15 essential vitamins and minerals are found in watercress. This leafy green offers more folate than banana, more calcium than milk, more vitamin C than orange and more iron than spinach.
No wonder it currently ranks #1 on the CDC’s nutrition density list, with the highest score of possible. It’s even richer in nutritional density that the queen of greens, kale.
But you know what it’s not rich in? Calories. Watercress is very low in calories with water content of nearly 93 percent. A one-cup portion of watercress has only 4 calories, but contains nearly 25 percent of recommended daily vitamin A and vitamin C.
Speaking of which, Vitamin C is the second most abundant vitamin in watercress and helps to fortify the immune system, prevent iron deficiency, and assist in the maintenance of healthy connective tissues. As for Vitamin A, which is the third most abundant nutrient in watercress – this vital vitamin also plays a role in the proper functioning of the immune system but more importantly, it is crucial for maintaining eye health and protecting the eyes from degenerative conditions.
And we can’t forget the most abundant vitamin in watercress: Vitamin K, which is known to strengthen the bones and protect the brain from neuronal damages.
Boosts your workouts
If you’re looking for the perfect green juice ingredient to add to your pre-workout juice recipes – pick watercress. This leafy green is rich in B complex vitamins like pantothenic acid, thiamin, vitamin B6, riboflavin and niacin, which help convert nutrients to energy and even enhance mental function and mood.
Plus, a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that watercress can help boost your workout by restoring energy levels and relieving the body of stress. Plus, the antioxidants in watercress help the body recover faster.
Improves your immune system
About 71% of this leafy green’s content is antioxidant vitamin C and for that reason the plant has even been recommended by John Woodall as a good agent to fight scurvy. You probably won’t ever have to deal with scurvy, but the ample vitamin C found in watercress will help to keep colds and flus away.
Protects against carcinogens
The peppery flavor of this leafy plant is derived from the compound glucosinolate which ends up being converted into phenyl isothiocyanates. Phenyl isothiocyanates have been shown to inhibit the damaging effects of carcinogens on the body by actually deactivating carcinogens.
Plus, watercress is rich in antioxidant flavonoids like lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene, all of which have protective benefits. So it’s no surprise that a study done at the University of Ulster found that a daily consumption of watercress was enough not only to reduce DNA damage but also to increase the cell’s ability to protect itself from the attack of free radicals.
These protective properties come with significant cancer-fighting perks. In a study conducted by the University of Southampton in 2010, it was found that consuming watercress inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells, thanks to the phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) action in inhibiting angiogenesis, the step through which tumor cells become malignant cells.
Fights inflammation in the body
One of the biggest perks of watercress comes from its anti-inflammatory properties. This leafy green has both antiviral and antibacterial effects that help reduce inflammation in the body, helping to ward off swelling and tissue damage caused by inflammatory conditions.
A true beauty food
Did you know that the philosopher Francis Bacon thought watercress could restore a youthful bloom to women? And the Romans and Anglo Saxons ate this leafy green to ward off baldness.
And it’s not surprising. After all, most leafy greens are great for healthy skin, hair and nails. But even amongst nutrition-rich leafy greens, watercress is exceptional. It’s full of beauty-boosting vitamins like A, C, E, K and B vitamins as well as crucial minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium that strengthen hair, nails and skin.
Great for ex-smokers
You know those anti-carcinogenic abilities of watercress we just talked about? Well, that is one of watercress’s best benefits especially for ex-smokers.
This leafy green was shown to have remarkable lung protective benefits even in cigarette smokers – one study found that participants who consumed 85g of fresh watercress daily experienced significant reductions in DNA damage – ranging from a 17% to 24% decrease in cellular structure damage!
Plus, protective antioxidant levels in the blood increased significantly with watercress supplementation.
Another clinical trial found that watercress extract was even capable of detoxing cancer-causing chemicals in a smoker’s body, with results showing an increase in the detoxification of certain toxins found in cigarette smoke.
So if you smoke – or used to smoke – juice thee some watercress.
Strong bones and teeth
Think calcium only comes from milk, yogurt and cheese? Nope – watercress is one of the few leafy greens that provide a healthy dose of bone-strengthening calcium. And it’s not just calcium – watercress is also rich in bone health-boosting vitamins and minerals like manganese, magnesium and Vitamin K, all of which contribute to healthy, strong bones and teeth.
5 Tasty Watercress Juice Recipes
Ready to reap the many, many benefits of watercress? Of course you are. If you’re new to juicing watercress, just keep in mind that you’ll want to start small. ‘Cause as great as this leafy green is for you, it does belong to the same family as mustard and radish – meaning, watercress has a peppery bite to it.
Watercress Wonder Juice
Here’s a super simple watercress juice recipe to get you juicing this wonderful leafy green as quick as possible:
- 1 large bunch of watercress
- 2 green apples
- 1 lime
- 2 celery stalks
With cleansing celery and lime as well as nutrient-rich watercress and apples, this is a classic green juice recipe that’s perfect for both beginners and advanced juicers alike.
Spicy Fat Burning Green Juice
Here’s an unexpectedly delicious green juice that has just the right amount of sweetness:
- 1 cup watermelon
- 2 cucumbers
- 1 cup watercress
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds (partially or entirely) removed
- 1/2 lime, juiced
It’s seriously rich in protective antioxidants, like the lycopene in watermelon, as well as very hydrating. Watercress adds a peppery kick and gives you a huge dose of cancer-protective benefits but the real star in this recipe is the spicy jalapeno, a thermogenic food, which thanks to its capsaicin content speeds up heart rate, reduces the bad fat in the arteries and stimulates metabolism since your body has to work harder to digest it (expending more calories) than it got from consuming it.
Healthy Eyes Watercress Juice
When you have just a bit of time and want a healthy juice recipe that’ll boost your immune system and keep your eyes sharp, here’s a great, simple juice recipe to make:
- 1 cup fresh watercress
- ½ lemon (peeleD)
- 1 carrot
- ½ glass water
It’s so simple and so rich in nutrients that are great for your overall body!
Watercress Digestive Juice
If you’re digestive system is feeling sluggish, give it some fuel with this delicious digestive watercress juice:
- Large handful of watercress
- 1 medium cucumber, ends removed
- 1-1/2 cup pineapple
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
- ½ lime, quartered
Make sure to juice the pineapple cores – after all, this is where the bromelain is hanging out and you definitely want to get a heap of that digestive enzyme!
Skin Rejuvenator Juice Recipe
Here’s a perfect beauty juice recipe that’s great for your skin, hair and nails. Sure, it requires several ingredients which increases the prep time, but its array of fruits and veggies also ensure you’re getting a huge diversity of perks.
Both watercress and kale, for example, are incredibly dense in nutrients that are great for your skin as well as your overall body. And the tiny, delicate herbs like mint? Great for your digestive system – just like the licorice-flavored fennel. And we all know that skin care (and health) begins in the gut.
So grab your ingredients and whip up a glass of this super skin saving juice! Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 cup blackberries
- 4 sprigs mint
- 1/2 fennel bulb with greens
- 2 stalks kale
- 2 small green apples
- 1 cup broccoli
- 1 handful watercress
- 1 small cucumber
- 1 lemon peeled
This juice recipe is wonderful to sip on throughout the day since it’s pretty low in sugar so feel free to replace your coffee or herbal tea with it!