I knew Watercress was good for you, but I never really knew how good, and as a runner it's REALLY good!
The humble leafy Watercress is a superfood, and has over 15 vital vitamins and minerals and is very high in anti-oxidants. Now this is the good bit for us runners....It can help prevent the damage caused to DNA cells during high intensity exercise.
Edinburgh Napier University in 2012 done an in depth study on it and the findings have now been published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Study leader Dr Mark Fogarty, from Edinburgh Napier’s School of Life, Sport and Social Sciences, said:“Although we are all aware of how good exercise can be for our bodies, doing high-levels of training can take its toll. The increased demand on the body for energy can create a build-up of free radicals which can damage our DNA.
“What we've found is that consuming a relatively small amount of watercress each day can help raise the levels of important antioxidant vitamins which may help protect our bodies, and allow us to enjoy the rewards of keeping fit. It’s an interesting step forward in sports nutrition development and research.”
Ten healthy men, aged on average of 23 years, participated in the study. For eight weeks they were given 85 grams of watercress and asked to participate in high-level exercise on the treadmill. An eight week study with no watercress consumption was carried out to act as a control.
The scientists also tested whether the protection properties of watercress were affected by the regularity of consumption. And they found that participants with no watercress in their system who ate the leafy vegetable just two hours before high level exercise still experienced the same level of protection.
Dr Fogarty said: “We put participants through short bursts of intense exercise and found that those who had not eaten watercress were found to have more DNA damage than those that did not. What was also fascinating is that the effect of eating watercress was not reliant on an accumulative build-up in our bodies. Those that ate the vegetable just two hours before exercise experienced the same benefits as those who had consumed the vegetable for eight weeks.”
Grown in Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire, Watercress packs a powerful nutritional punch, gram for gram containing more iron than spinach, more vitamin C than oranges and more calcium than milk. It is brimming with Vitamin A (converted from beta carotene) with 80g providing a whopping 42% of the recommended daily allowance. Recent studies have also suggested that watercress may have cancer fighting properties.
I have a 10K night trail race in 2 weeks time. It's on the North Downs, which I know quite well so although not a particularly long race I know it's going to be tough on the body due to the elevation of the area.
With this being the case, in the 2 weeks leading up to the race I'm going to consume Watercress everyday and include it in my meals. I've already checked out the recipes and information on the Watercress website www.watercress.co.uk but I've also kicked off this weekend with a couple of my own recipes which I'll be sharing on the blog over the next couple of days.
On Saturday night I made homemade burgers with sweet potato chips and the burgers were packed out with Watercress. Today I made Watercress and sweet potato soup which was delicious.
Watch this space.