Watercress is native to Europe and Central Asia. It is known as the oldest leaf plant that is still consumed by human beings. Cultivated of watercress is done on both a large scale and a small, garden scale. Being semi-aquatic watercress thrives in hydroponic cultivation, thrive best in water that is slightly alkaline and it is grown around the chalk waters. In many locals markets, the demand for the hydroponically grown watercress has exceeded the supply for it because the leaves of the watercress are unsuitable to eat in the dried forms. Watercress leaves can only be stored fresh for a short period of time. Watercress can be sold in supermarkets as long as they are in sealed storage bags which contain a little moisture and is slightly pressurized to prevent the content from getting crushed and damaged.
The edible of watercress will be harvested days after germination, but if watercress is allowed to grow, the plant will reach heights of fifty to one hundred twenty centimeters. This plant will produce white to green flowers and when this happens the leaves start to turn bitter.
In the United States around the year of 1940, New Market, Alabama was known as the Watercress capital of the world.
Watercress is a rich source of these minerals and vitamins. They are iron, calcium, folate acid, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Because watercress is a rich source of Vitamin C, watercress was suggested by English military surgeon Doctor James Woodall to help in preventing scurvy. Many benefits are claimed from eating watercress such as it acts as a stimulant, a source of phytochemicals and antioxidants. It also acts as a diuretic, an expectorant, and a digestive aid. It also appears to have anti-angiogenic cancer-suppressing properties as it known to fight against lung cancers. Plus due to its high iodine content, watercress is known to strengthen the thyroid gland and is beneficial for the people who suffer from hypothyroidism. It is said that watercress can also stop bleeding when mixed with vinegar.
Watercress is full of lutein which helps to prevent arterial damage and heart disease. It prevents the two by getting rid of the plaques on the arterial walls to the heart.
Cultivated mostly in stream-fed waters, watercress is considered a super food by many researchers because of its high levels of antioxidant on each serving. A bowl of watercress salad which is about eighty grams contains about forty-two percent of the daily required amount of Vitamin A and fifty mg of Vitamin C. Watercress also contains beta-carotene, B vitamins, Vitamins E, folate, and calcium. Dieters will be pleased that watercress is low in calories, containing only eighteen calories servings, which is less than broccoli.
Watercress also contains micronutrients that work hand in hand with the antioxidants to combat cancer-friendly free radicals in the body. Several scientific studies have linked watercress intake to lower rates of certain types of cancers in smokers and non-smokers as well.