This page about watercress for gout was last reviewed or updated on 10 August 2014
Why eat watercress
for gout? It does not have the possibly magic anti-gout ingredient that is
found in celery. It is not a miracle gout
cure. I’ve never read any testimonials about watercress and gout.
But there is a story that Greek and Roman generals encouraged their armies to eat it whenever they could to beef up their performance. Its tasty small leaves are very healthy containing an excellent variety of nutrients (See below). That’s its attraction for gout diets; apart from its subtle peppery flavour (flavor) derived from its mustard oils. Gout sufferers need a diet high in anti oxidants, and watercress does fit that bill. It is a vegetable for gout.
Another reason to eat watercress for gout - its quercetin
There is a big surprise about this little leaf. It is high in the falvonoid quercetin. Raw watercress contains about 30 mg per 100 grams of watercress. (1) This amount makes it one of the leading food sources of quercetin. (But steam it, and the quercetin content drops dramatically). So what's good about this ?
Quercetin may inhibit xanthine oxidase, the enzyme that is responsible for converting purines into uric acid. And thus reduce uric acid production, the key to getting gout under control. However, the evidence that quercetin can do this is still thin. The evidence comes from studies on mice and rats. And you’d probably have to eat an enormous amount of watercress to achieve lowered uric acid. Quercetin may also encourage uric acid excretion.(Read more on the quercetin page).
Nevertheless, its quercetin together with its other nutrients, definitely places
watercress into the class of good foods for gout, even if it does not
have an immediate effect on gout’s pain and inflammation.It makes
watercress as interesting for gout nutrition as red cabbage and berries. It's very hard to see how it could be bad for gout.
a dietary supplement, quercetin is best taken with bromelain to aid its
absorption. This is why they are so often packaged together. But
although bromelain is found in pineapples, it's mainly in the stalks.
not the fruit. So combining watercress and pineapple, say in a salad,
NUTRIENT COMPARISON WITH PARSLEY, KALE, AND BROCCOLI.
All healthy nutrient big hitters
There is thiamin (B1) folate (folic acid) magnesium, zinc, iron, and Vitamins B6, A, E, and K in watercress, but the significant-amount nutrients in it are calcium, potassium and vitamin C. Potassium (in the citrate form) has a role in natural gout treatment and any sort of potassium is good for a gout diet. If you were trying to consume 500 mg of Vitamin C daily (or more) in an attempt to lower uric acid with it, you’d get about 1/10th of that from 100 grams of watercress, and 1/5th from 200 grams.
As you can see (below) watercress is not quite in the same league for calcium, potassium and vitamin C, as kale, and parsley. But it’s not far behind and overall it matches that superfood broccoli. Factor in its quercetin, of which there is much more than in parsley and broccoli, and 30% more than in kale, and it 's up with them. The numbers used here are taken from the USDA’s (United States Department of Agriculture) National Nutrient database. (2)
Amount in milligrams per 100 grams
Watercress raw Calcium 120 mg Potassium 330 mg Vitamin C 43 mg
Parsley fresh Calcium 138 mg Potassium 554 mg Vitamin C 133 mg
Broccoli raw Calcium 47 mg Potassium 316 mg Vitamin C 89 mg
Kale raw Calcium 150 mg Potassium 491 mg Vitamin C 120 mg
Green leafy vegetables like watercress are not going to be high or medium purine. It is low purine and low carb.(See below).
Watercress makes a super soup !
Watercress dishes There are many ways of using it. Watercress is great as a soup or sauce.Try to use as many fresh, raw, leaves as you can, to be sure of getting the most quercetin. Make a raw watercress sandwich of it, serve it with meat, fish or vegetarian dishes; put it in salads. Or here’s a simple low purine idea – poached eggs with watercress on toast.
Certainly don’t use it solely as a garnish, the way parsley is misused. You just won’t get enough of its nutrients.
And fresh leaves are the healthiest
When choosing watercress dishes, bear in mind to consider those that mean you will eat at least 100 grams - to get useful amounts of its vitamins, minerals and quercetin.
More recipe ideas
WATERCRESS Nutrient data. All per 100 grams
Purines We estimate watercress is low purine, because green plant vegetables like this are low purine.
Calories Low. 11 kcal per 100 grams
Carbohydrates Low.Watercress has 1.29 grams of carbs per 100 grams. But the net carbs number (the real number) is 0.79 grams because there are 0.5 grams of fibre (fiber) and you deduct the fibre (fiber) from the carbs to get the effective carbs number.
GI-GL Its Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load will be zero/low because there are so few carbs. This is good for low carb dieting.
Acid-Alkaline Watercress is an alkaline food, because of the high potassium content, which is good for gout.
Watercress Nutrient amounts per 100 grams, raw
Vitamin C 43 mg
Calcium 120 mg
Potassium 330 mg
Magnesium 21 mg
Zinc 0.11 mg
Phospherous 60 mg
Iron 0.20 mg
Thiamin 0.09 mg
Riboflavin 0.12 mg
Niacin 0.20 mg
B6 0.129 mg
Folate (folic acid) 9 mcg
Vitamin A 160 mcg
Vitamin E 1.00 mg
Vitamin K 250 mcg
And this is not related to gout, but the sulforaphane in watercess is being seriously scientifically investigated for its anti-cancer properties.
Want to read more pages like this one about good foods for gout? Visit this page, where there are links to good gout foods pages.
Watercress for gout references
(1) USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods. Release 3.1 (May 2014)