Diabetes Diet: The Surprising Nutritional Benefits of Watercress

One way to ensure our body gets a variety of nutrients is eating nutrient dense foods, and one of the most nutrient dense foods on our planet is watercress.

It’s hard to imagine that watercress, a delicate appearing aquatic plant with a soothing name, packs an amazing vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant punch—but it does. Nor does this flimsy veggie look as if it could contribute much flavor to a meal, but the peppery taste of watercress adds a dash of zing to sauces, sandwiches, and salads.

Watercress and Diabetes

The health benefits of making watercress a regular part of one’s diet are universal, but for those with diabetes watercress offers specific nutritional supports important for glucose management and longterm health:

  • Besides protecting cells from free radicals, alpha-lipoic acid - one of the many antioxidants in watercress - helps increase insulin sensitivity, and lower blood sugar levels. Studies also suggest alpha-lipoic acid may decrease peripheral or autonomic neuropathy in diabetics.
  • Watercress is a treasure trove of minerals including those important for cardiovascular health. The calcium, potassium, and magnesium in watercress are helpful for reaching and maintaining normal blood pressure since they release sodium out of the body, and increase artery dilation. The dietary nitrates in watercress have been shown to lower blood pressure, as well.
  • A cup of chopped watercress contains some fiber, no fat or cholesterol, and only 4 calories, making it one of the best foods available for people needing to lose weight.
  • Two carotenoids found in watercress, lutein and zeaxanthin, protect the heart and arteries from cell damage, and help keep our arteries unclogged. In studies, high lutein levels have been linked to a reduced heart attack risk—and lutein supports healthy vision.
  • Watercress is nearly bursting with vitamin A which is necessary for good eye health. Plus, vitamin A supports the immune system, offers cell protection, and plays a role in the development of red blood cells.

Watercress is also an outstanding source of vitamins C and K. Vitamin C is vital for immune system function and since our body doesn’t store vitamin C, we need good sources of it in our daily diet. Vitamin K increases the absorption of calcium from our food—helping to ensure the strength of our bones and teeth.

Kitchen Tips

Watercress - like its cruciferous cousins kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and arugula - can easily be added to casseroles, pastas, and sauces. Look for watercress with deep-green, crisp leaves having no signs of wilting; it should be stored in the refrigerator in a closed container and used within a few days of purchase.

You might enjoy watercress by:

  • Blending a handful into your favorite smoothie, or fruit juice.
  • Making pesto with watercress.
  • Adding watercress to scrambled eggs or omelets.
  • Putting chopped watercress into your pasta sauce.
  • Turning it into a side dish: saute´ watercress in a bit of extra-virgin olive oil, season it with ground black pepper and grated Parmesan; this also makes a delicious baked potato topping.
  • Toss some watercress into your soup near the end of its cooking time.

Keep in mind that watercress cooks more quickly than some of our sturdier vegetables.

A Couple Cautions

Though most of us will not eat more than a handful of this nutritious veggie per day, there are a couple watercress cautions to keep in mind.

People taking blood thinners (e.g., Coumadin) should avoid a sudden intake of more or fewer vitamin K containing foods, since vitamin K is involved with blood clotting.

Also, those with cardiovascular disease or associated risk factors should talk to a physician before beginning a high-nitrate diet as it can interfere with the medicinal workings of organic nitrate (nitroglycerine), or nitrite drugs that treat angina.

Sources: Medical News Today; Science of Eating
Photo credit: Alpha

Get a Free Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who may contact you with updates and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy.

More Articles

Avandia (rosiglitazone) and Actos (pioglitazone), known as the thiazolidinediones, are oral drugs used to treat Type 2...

Regular diabetic testing is essential for proper management of diabetes. Depending on the severity of the diabetes, a diabetic may be...

When diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, many people panic and are concerned that their life is over. In fact, if the...

Oil pulling therapy derives from Ayurveda, a holistic healing system developed thousands of years ago in India. Ayurvedic medicine maintains that...

There are many causes for both male and female hair loss, including heredity, diet and illness. Could taking prescription insulin be one more...

More Articles

Doctors use regular assessments of their diabetic patients not only to monitor the progress of the disease but also as opportunities to counsel...

Every body needs insulin, an essential hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar by converting glucose into energy. Diabetics...

People are not the only beings who suffer from diabetes. Any mammal with a pancreas can develop the disease through a lack of or impaired insulin...

When is diabetes not really diabetes? When it is Diabetes Insipidus. Diabetes Insipidus is a rare disorder not related to diabetes mellitus,...

When news stations feature stories about diabetes, they tend to include a shot of an overweight body, calling attention to the person's excess...

The most well-known variations of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes....

Those who have not yet been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can greatly reduce their susceptibility by doing one key...

There are those who have heard of the term "diabetes mellitus," but might not be familiar with it. Diabetes Mellitus is a condition in...

Not only is dry skin uncomfortable, but scratched or cracked skin is also susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections – common medical...

=It’s helpful to know the difference between a food’s total grams of carbohydrate, and net grams of carbohydrate since only net carbs affect blood...

Eating LCHF, or a Low Carb High Fat diet, is a bit mind-bending for those of us who have learned to consume low-fat and lean. In many respects, it...

A 1-minute quiz could predict whether or not you're at risk for prediabetes. More than 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. have prediabetes, which - left...

The human body needs chromium, a trace mineral, for several essential functions including the normalizing of...

Do not let pictures of yoga experts with their bodies twisted into bizarre, compact shapes fool you. Even people with stiff muscles, creaky joints...

It can be difficult enough to get on stage and make a roomful of strangers laugh, but for comedians suffering from type 1 or type 2 diabetes,...