Watercress (leaf)

Watercress, Nasturtium officinale, is a leaf vegetable that is a member of the mustard family, Brassicaceae. It is an aquatic plant grown in temperate areas of Germany, France and the United Kingdom 1. Watercress contain over 90% water, but is also an excellent source of vitamin K, a good source of vitamin A and a source of vitamin C 2. It also contains a number of flavonoid compounds that have antioxidant activities, such as quercetin and hesperetin 3.

Recent attention has been devoted to an additional component of cruciferous vegetables, namely, the glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are sulfur-containing compounds that can be broken down in the human gastrointestinal tract. Isothiocyanates, including sulforaphane, are the metabolites of glucosinolates that can then be absorbed through the intestine 4. Watercress has a moderate glucosinolate content when compared with other cruciferous vegetables 5.


  1. Ensminger AH, Ensminger ME, Konlande JE, Robson JRK. The Concise Encyclopedia of Foods and Nutrition. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 1995.
  2. United States Department of Agriculture. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21. 2008.
  3. USDA Agricultural Research Service. USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods. USDA Department of Agriculture, 2003.
  4. Lund E. Non-nutritive bioactive constituents of plants: dietary sources and health benefits of glucosinolates. Int J Vitam.Nutr Res 2003;73:135-43.
  5. McNaughton SA, Marks GC. Development of a food composition database for the estimation of dietary intakes of glucosinolates, the biologically active constituents of cruciferous vegetables. Br J Nutr 2003;90:687-97.