After sweating it at the gym or outside, it’s always nice to know that your body is still working hard long after you unlace those sneakers. A new study has found eating a certain leafy green can add to the post-workout benefits. One hint: it’s not spinach, kale, lettuce, or arugula.
The leafy green with maximizing power just happens to be watercress. Watercress is often used in salads as part of a mixture of leafy greens, but is not usually given much credit on its own. The results of this study show that watercress might not be getting the attention it deserves when it comes to working out.
The authors of the study from Edinburgh University of Ulster point out that although exercise has obvious health benefits, continuous pounding on a treadmill (or a road), lifting weights, or any other high-level activity can actually increase the demand for energy and create build-up of free radicals which can damage DNA. They found that consuming a small amount of watercress each day can help raise the levels of antioxidant vitamins that help protect the body while exercising.
The study also found that exercisers who had been eating watercress for eight weeks prior to the experiment had no difference in benefit than those who just started eating the vegetable two hours before the experiment. Start giving watercress the recognition it deserves by introducing it into your diet. It’s easier than you might think to include this vegetable in your meals—there are plenty of ways to use it in large or small quantities. Here are a few recipes with watercress as the star of the dish.
Avocado and Watercress Salad
1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 tablespoon grated sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla (use large holes of a box grater)
1/4 cup finely grated peeled Gala apple (use small holes of box grater)
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cups watercress (thin stems and leaves only; from 1 large bunch)
1 firm-ripe avocado
Stir together vinegar, onion, apple, soy sauce, and sugar until sugar has dissolved, then stir in oil.
Before serving, toss watercress with enough dressing to coat. Quarter, pit, and peel avocado, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Gently toss with watercress.
Cucumber and Watercress Sandwiches
Smoked Turkey, Brie, Green Apple, and Watercress Sandwich
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons mustard
1 (8-ounce) French bread baguette (Feel free to use a whole wheat baguette or roll for a healthier option)
6 ounces thinly sliced smoked turkey breast
1/4 pound Brie cheese, thinly sliced
1 cup trimmed watercress
1 cup thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apple
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine honey and mustard in a small bowl. Cut bread in half lengthwise; place on a baking sheet. Spread honey mixture on bottom half of loaf; top with turkey and cheese. Bake at 350° for 5 minutes or until cheese begins to melt.
Arrange watercress and apple slices onto melted cheese; sprinkle with pepper. Cover with top half of loaf, and cut into 4 portions.
Watermelon with Watercress and Feta
1 (2 pound) piece watermelon, rind removed and flesh cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 (4-ounce) block feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 packed cup watercress or arugula
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a salad bowl, combine the watermelon, feta cheese, watercress, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Gently toss until all the ingredients are combined. Serve immediately.