Overshadowed by rocket, which is so tediously ubiquitous, watercress struggles to get a look-in.
Curious that, because the latter is by far the superior leaf. With watercress you get that reliable, but not overbearing pepperiness, all bound up in juicy, sappy succulence. It's a two-in-one vegetable: the leaves have the velvety floppiness of lamb's lettuce, while the stalks have the snap of beansprouts. To salads, a tangle of watercress lends a blast of deepest green taste and bouncy volume. It makes sandwiches (rare roast beef, egg mayonnaise) lively and fresh. Providing you have a blender, no soup is simpler than watercress.
Why is watercress good for me? There's a stack of good nutrition packed in this watery plant, especially if you eat it raw. It is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, but contains particularly high levels of bone-building and strengthening vitamin K, and vitamin A, which is important for eye health.
Watercress also contains significant levels of glucosinolate compounds and many studies now suggest that these have anti-cancer effects. Eating these compounds appears to help inhibit breast, lung, colon, and prostate cancers. Flavonoid antioxidants in watercress (carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin) also support good vision, have benefits for the cardiovascular system, and help protect cells against damage from free radicals.