The CDC just crowned watercress as the best produce for your health. The agency assigns nutrition density scores to fruits and vegetables based on their concentration of essential vitamins and minerals. According to Prevention magazine, watercress was the only vegetable to earn a perfect score of 100, trailed by other veggies like spinach, chard, and beet greens. It has more vitamin A and potassium than lettuce and more vitamin C than an orange; Captain James Cook even used it to cure scurvy while sailing around the world.
Watercress isn't exactly a go-to green for many people. It's known for its pungent flavor and scent; its scientific name, Nasturtium officinale, is Latin for "nose twister." Still, it has been a widely used ingredient for thousands of years. It was a staple in ancient Greek, Persian, and Roman cuisines, and was even served at the first Thanksgiving. On top of being food, it's also been used for medicinal purposes in Europe and Asia for millennia.
Many people wouldn't think of watercress as a proper vegetable, however. It grows in bodies of fresh water like streams and ponds and is closely related to cabbage, kale, and radishes. Because there's so much of it in wet environments, some regions of the world consider watercress to be a weed.
Despite its abundance, it can be hard to find in many grocery stores and only available at specialty places like Whole Foods. So the next time you see it while shopping, stock up and find some good recipes.