Vegetables are a vital component of any diabetes diet, and it’s hard to top leafy greens when it comes to health benefits. These veggies are low in calories, but they’re packed with vitamins, fiber, and many other nutrients. Of course, leafy greens can help people control diabetes, too.
Some of the best-known leafy greens include spinach, kale, and chard. And while these options are highly nutritious, you should also take time to explore less popular vegetables in this category, including watercress. With its anti-diabetic effects and uniquely peppery flavor, watercress can give your diabetes diet a real kick this spring – and year-round. If you’re interested in giving this underappreciated leafy green a try, keep reading for more information from the team at ADS.
How Watercress Fights Diabetes
Like its fellow leafy greens, watercress has no shortage of health perks. Some of these benefits are particularly noteworthy for people who have diabetes or are concerned about their risk for this disease:
Improved Heart Health
When you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of heart disease. Watercress can combat heart problems in multiple ways:
- Many amazing antioxidants are contained in watercress, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene. Low levels of these antioxidants (AKA “carotenoids”) have negative links to high blood pressure and heart disease. But getting high amounts of carotenoids has the opposite effect and is positive for overall health.
- Along with antioxidants, watercress is a source of dietary nitrates. Studies have shown that these can make your blood vessels dilate, and help lower blood pressure.
- There’s evidence to suggest that watercress may play a role in lowering cholesterol. One study focusing on rats with high cholesterol found that watercress extract helped reduce their total cholesterol by 34 percent and their LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol by 53 percent.
- Watercress belongs to a group of vegetables known as the cruciferous family. Eating vegetables in this family – which also includes the likes of broccoli, radishes, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts – was linked to studies that may lower people’s heart disease risk by 16 percent.
Eye Health Protection
Another infamous complication of diabetes is vision problems, including cataracts. Watercress is an ideal source of vitamin C, which has been associated with a reduced risk of cataracts. To add, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin in watercress play an essential role in protecting your vision.
Potential For Easier Weight Loss
Nutrient density is a significant factor in choosing foods for a diabetes diet. Since a one-cup serving of watercress contains a mere four calories, this vegetable certainly fits the bill. Right now, there is a lack of research dealing with watercress and weight loss. That said, it stands to reason that its high level of nutrient density and minimal calories per serving, makes it a good choice for managing your weight. Meanwhile, successful weight management can make it easier to control diabetes symptoms.
Reduced Diabetes Risk
Along with their previously-mentioned advantages, the antioxidants for example like alpha-lipoic acid in watercress have been associated with lower glucose levels and increased insulin sensitivity which can both help treat diabetes . Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which can cause “oxidative stress” – a condition linked to diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Other Benefits of Watercress
Not all watercress health benefits are related to diabetes, but they still bear mentioning. In addition to the perks listed above, watercress:
- Is full of nutrients. A cup of watercress delivers 22 percent of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for Vitamin A, 24 percent of the RDI for Vitamin C, 106 percent of the RDI for Vitamin K, and 4 percent of the RDIs for both calcium and manganese.
- Can protect you from other chronic diseases. Along with fighting cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, the antioxidants in watercress can help lower your risk of cancer. The phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables may also prevent some forms of cancer.
- Is able to help your immune system. As a result of its high levels of vitamin C, watercress can contribute to a more robust immune system. This vitamin can support your immune system by helping you produce more white blood cells that fight infection.
- Can give your bones a boost. Vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients can improve bone health, and support strong bones.
Eat More Watercress With These Tips
If you haven’t eaten watercress much in the past, you may be unsure how to add this leafy green to your everyday diet. Fortunately, this delicious, nutritious vegetable is a perfect fit with many healthy dishes. This list of ideas for cooking with watercress can help:
- Use watercress alone in salads with other delicate greens, such as mizuna (a leafy green vegetable) and baby arugula.
- Eat a watercress and goat cheese sandwich: Use whole grain bread, spread goat cheese on the bread, and add watercress.
- Watercress, watermelon, and feta salad: Combine all ingredients with some olive oil and lemon juice. You can also replace the watermelon with avocado.
- Zucchini and watercress soup: Sautee these vegetables with onion and puree.
- Puree watercress with garlic and lowfat Greek yogurt for a dipping sauce.
- Add watercress to any pasta dish for a delicious garnish.
- Make pesto sauce with watercress.
- Add watercress to your omelet or scrambled eggs.
- Cucumber, watercress, and parsley salad: Combine all ingredients with a dressing made with a bit of honey, white wine vinegar, black pepper, and olive oil.
Put A Spring In Your Step With Convenient Diabetes Supply Delivery
While watercress is an excellent dietary choice at any time of year, it’s also the perfect way to spice up meals when spring arrives. When you handle spring cleaning this year, take some time to think about what is and isn’t working in your diabetes management strategy.
If you’ve had trouble getting diabetes supplies like insulin and glucose meters before, don’t keep relying on the same suppliers that have caused problems for you in the past. Instead, switch to ADS for speedy, trustworthy home delivery of all the supplies you need!