Healthiest vegetable in the world revealed, but do you eat it?

A new study has found that one vegetable is much healthier than the rest

different vegetables on table
(Image credit: AnaBGD / iStock)

It’s no secret that vegetables are one of the most important food groups out there. They provide us with the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients that our body needs, simultaneously helping support our digestion and immune system. Fruit is exactly the same (check out what 8 of the healthiest fruits are!) and is also incredibly important in our diet. Most people are well aware of the recommended 5 A Day campaign, but did you know there is one specific vegetable that is scientifically proven to be healthier than the others? Yep, you heard us right. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently revealed the only vegetable classed as having a 100% nutrient density score. The study looked at 17 important nutrients naturally occurring in food (fibre, protein, potassium, Vitamin A, B12, D) and calculated how much of those nutrients were found in a 100 calorie serving. The results are in - it’s watercress. 

What is watercress? 

Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is a semi-aquatic plant that grows in shallow waters and natural springs. Belonging to the mustard family, watercress is related to collard greens, broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts, turnips and radishes.

Historically, watercress was used more as a garnish but is now seeing a resurgence in popularity as one of the latest superfoods. The flavour is pungent and peppery, with a similar scent to rocket. 

Watercress can also be grown hydroponically all year round - a method of growing plants without soil.

watercress in a bowl

(Image credit: Co-op)

What are the health benefits of watercress? 

1. It lowers your blood pressure 

Watercress contains calcium, potassium and magnesium, all of which help to bring down blood pressure by releasing sodium and helping the arteries to dilate. However, anyone taking blood thinners should consult their doctors before adding watercress to their diet as Vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting and could potentially affect the medication’s effect. 

2. It maintains healthy bones

The high vitamin K content of watercress paired with its calcium levels can help promote healthy bones. Eating just one cup of watercress helps to meet the daily need for vitamin K.

3. It’s an anti-inflammatory 

Watercress works well at reducing inflammation due to containing polyphenols and antioxidants. This not only keeps your body operating well, but it can also help stop the onset of illnesses like arthritis and joint discomfort.

4. It improves eyesight 

Due to the high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in watercress, it aids in maintaining good vision. It also contains a lot of vitamin C which helps in reducing the risk of cataract development. 

5. It decreases the chance of developing cancer

Watercress is a cruciferous vegetable with a higher glucosinolate content than other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, radish and turnip. It has been demonstrated that glucosinolates prevent the development of cancer cells, and stop any from remerging. 

How to use watercress and enjoy its benefits

To fully absorb all of the nutrients in watercress, it is best enjoyed raw. However, it can also be added into a range of hot dishes to add a delicious flavour as well as fantastic colour and texture. When raw, you can add watercress to other greens such as kale or baby spinach for a salad, or include into your next sandwich, wrap or grain bowl. 

You can also sauté watercress with some garlic and extra virgin olive oil for a quick side dish, or blitz it in your blender the next time you’re making soup. Check out our best blenders for 2023!

Well there you go, if you’re feeling like giving your body some nutrients or just a bit of a detox, watercress is the place to start. If you’re interested in more, read our guide on 5 ways you can support & improve your gut health

Lizzie Wilmot
Staff Writer, Home

Lizzie is T3's Home Staff Writer, also covering style, living and wellness. She works closely with Bethan Girdler-Maslen, T3's Home Editor, ensuring all the latest news, trends and recommendations are covered. Outside of T3, Lizzie can be found mooching around Bath, attempting (or at least trying to) a new DIY project or spending time with family and friends.