Watercress for gout. Not a miracle cure but its nutrients, especially quercetin, make it worth eating 

This page about watercress for gout was last reviewed or updated on 11 January 2018

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. There was once only quercetin mice and rats' studies, but a few years ago a human study found that quercetin lowered uric acid in humans too. Read more on the quercetin page

Quercetin may also encourage uric acid excretion, as well as inhibit its production. You would probably have to eat an enormous amount of watercress to achieve lowered uric acid. In the humans' study, participants took 500 mg a day. from a dietary supplement tablet, purchased from a vitamins' shop.The equivalent amount of raw watercress would be about 1.7 kilos of watercress each day !

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.

As 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, won't work.


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 

Download free recipes from this British organic watercress site. 

Free recipes also available at this U.S watercress site.

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.

Related pages

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)

(2)  USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Release 26. October 2013.

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