8 Impressive Benefits of Watercress

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

Watercress, often hailed as a powerhouse of nutrients, is a versatile and vibrant leafy green with a multitude of benefits for overall health and well-being. From its crisp texture to its peppery flavor, watercress adds a refreshing burst of vitality to a variety of dishes, making it a popular choice among health enthusiasts and culinary connoisseurs alike. Whether enjoyed raw in salads, blended into soups, or incorporated into sandwiches, the benefits of watercress are as plentiful as its lush green leaves.

The health benefits of watercress include boosting heart health, cognition, and immunity. Additionally, its consumption is associated with improved eyesight, cold prevention, and alleviation of pediatric asthma symptoms.

What is Watercress?

Watercress is a mineral-rich, green leafy vegetable. It is a cruciferous plant that is native to Europe and Asia. This nutritious vegetable falls under the Brassicaceae family. Its health benefits are obtained from the high content of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Watercress Nutrition Facts

The phytonutrients are where the health benefits of watercress are contained. According to the USDA, watercress contains vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. It is low in calories and so makes for a great addition to many weight-loss diets. [1]

Watercress on a wooden cutting board

Watercress is an overlooked leafy green that packs a powerful nutrient punch. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Watercress, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]95.11
Energy 11
Energy [kJ]46
Protein [g]2.3
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.1
Ash [g]1.2
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]1.29
Fiber, total dietary [g]0.5
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]0.2
Calcium, Ca [mg]120
Iron, Fe [mg]0.2
Magnesium, Mg [mg]21
Phosphorus, P [mg]60
Potassium, K [mg]330
Sodium, Na [mg]41
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.11
Copper, Cu [mg]0.08
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.24
Selenium, Se [µg]0.9
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]43
Thiamin [mg]0.09
Riboflavin [mg]0.12
Niacin [mg]0.2
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.31
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.13
Folate, total [µg]9
Folate, food [µg]9
Folate, DFE [µg]9
Choline, total [mg]9
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]160
Carotene, beta [µg]1914
Vitamin A, IU [IU]3191
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]5767
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]1
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]250
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.03
16:0 [g]0.02
18:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.01
16:1 [g]0
18:1 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.04
18:2 [g]0.01
18:3 [g]0.02
Tryptophan [g]0.03
Threonine [g]0.13
Isoleucine [g]0.09
Leucine [g]0.17
Lysine [g]0.13
Methionine [g]0.02
Cystine [g]0.01
Phenylalanine [g]0.11
Tyrosine [g]0.06
Valine [g]0.14
Arginine [g]0.15
Histidine [g]0.04
Alanine [g]0.14
Aspartic acid [g]0.19
Glutamic acid [g]0.19
Glycine [g]0.11
Proline [g]0.1
Serine [g]0.06
Sources include : USDA [2]

Health Benefits of Watercress

The major health benefits of watercress are discussed in detail below.

May Improve Cardiovascular Health

Cruciferous vegetables like watercress are shown to be beneficial in lowering LDL or bad cholesterol. [3]

The Journal of Ethnopharmacology has published an article, which states that watercress has definite potential to protect your cardiovascular health. It suggested that this green vegetable could help to lower the bad cholesterol levels. [4]

Studies also suggest that watercress helps in regulating blood pressure as it is a rich source of nitrate. [5]

May Improve Bone Health

Watercress contains a number of nutrients that are essential for bone health, including calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K. Studies show that the inclusion of calcium-rich food such as watercress works in reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Calcium may help to repair and build bones by increasing the production of osteoblasts, the cells responsible for this beneficial activity. Magnesium helps to absorb calcium, and Vitamin K helps enhance bone density. [6] [7] [8] [9]

In addition to these nutrients, watercress also contains several antioxidants. Antioxidants help to protect bones from damage, and they may also help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Watercress may also be a good source of folate, which can play a direct role as an interactive nutrient in maintaining bone density. Post-menopausal women may also benefit from folate in their diet as a preventive against osteoporosis.

May Improve Brain Health

Cruciferous vegetables like watercress are possibly rich in isothiocyanates. Research published in 2018 in the peer-reviewed journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research shows that broccoli and watercress have the potential to help prevent brain disorders. Moreover, these vegetables also help in delaying brain aging. [10]

May Boost Immunity

Watercress contains a huge amount of vitamin C, which is beneficial in improving immunity. It helps to increase the number of white blood cells in the body so that you are able to fight infections. [11]

Intake of vitamin C-rich food such as watercress is also beneficial in reducing the risk of blood cell damage and common colds.

recent study found that watercress consumption led to an initial increase in pro-inflammatory markers, followed by a greater increase in anti-inflammatory markers in the recovery phase. This suggests that watercress may have an immunomodulatory effect, activating the immune system and leading to a stronger pro-inflammatory response, which is then effectively resolved by a powerful anti-inflammatory counter-regulation. [12]

May Reduce Oxidative Damage to Blood Cells

Research suggests that vitamin C along with vitamin E is effective in reducing oxidative damage to red blood cells. Though the study is based on supplements, it is also suggested that the consumption of foods such as watercress with these nutrients may be beneficial to health.

May Improve Eyesight

A 2016 study suggests that vitamin C might be effective in reducing the risk of cataract development. An inclusion of watercress with a good amount of vitamin C may be beneficial in protection against cataracts. [13]

May Prevent Common Cold

Vitamin C rich food is known to be an effective remedy for the common cold. A study on this immune protective ability of vitamin C shows that consuming food rich in vitamin C may reduce the risk of a cold by 66 %. Watercress is a good source of vitamin C.

May Relieve Pediatric Asthma

A study on children suffering from asthma showed results of significantly increased forced expiratory volume (FEV) with vitamin C of at least 0.2g daily. These results varied with each child’s history of mold and dampness exposure. Those having no exposure saw a 37% increase and those with exposure saw a 21% increase of FEV per second. Intake of food such as watercress may provide relief from pediatric asthma. [14]

How to add Watercress to your diet?

You can add watercress to many dishes in your diet.

  • Add some watercress to your salad and make it greener.
  • Replace lettuce with watercress in your burgers and sandwiches.
  • Add it to any soup of your choice.
  • Make it into a pesto, just like you make basil pesto.


Watercress is a beneficial food that is a strong preventive medicine when eaten daily. Doing so affects many body systems, repairs cellular damage, and prevents cardiovascular disease with the nutritional value it imparts. The nutrients in it are also beneficial to women in the post-menopausal years to improve cognition and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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