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Add it to salads, smoothies, soups. Sound familiar?
Move over kale, there’s a new kid on the block. Watercress is making waves with the health crowd thanks to it being crowned the most nutrient dense food according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Watercress scored 100 100 on the nutrient density index, where rival kale scored only 49.
With high levels of many nutrients including vitamin C, calcium, iron and folate, it sounds like we should all be consuming more watercress.
Its rival in the green leafy stakes, kale, saw sales rocket in 2014, up 54% in the 12 months until November 2015 and now watercress looks set to follow suit, with demand so high that British farms in Hampshire are having to expand production by 20%.
Tom Amery, Managing Director of The Watercress Company in Hampshire says: “We think some of the reason for the popularity is down to its peppery flavour and soft leaves. Watercress not only beats kale in the nutrient stakes, but it brings real flavour to the plate too. And it’s a hell of a lot easier to chew!”
Watercress’ pepperiness is down to the high level of ITCs (isothiocyanates) activated as you chew the leaves.
The more you chew, the more flavour you get. ITCs have also been shown to have cancer preventative properties, repair the damage caused by exercise, stress and everyday living and actually boost the immune system too.
Not just a salad leaf, watercress is also popular in soups, stir fries and smoothies.
2016 is set to be a big year for watercress and Tom Amery for one, can’t wait: “Will watercress win out over kale? We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s looking like there’s going to be a good fight for the health crowds’ hearts!”