Watercress contains significant amounts of iron, calcium and folic acid, in addition to vitamins A and C. Many health benefits are attributed to eating watercress , such as that it acts as a mild stimulant, a source of phytochemicals and antioxidants, a diuretic, an expectorant, and a digestive aid. It may also have cancer-suppressing properties,…
Fascioliasis is found in all continents except Antarctica, in over 70 countries, especially where there are sheep or cattle. People usually become infected by eating raw watercress or other water plants contaminated with immature parasite larvae.
Knowing that indigenous Americans understood and used plants in a variety of ways , I wondered if and how they might have used watercress. Watercress came to this continent from Europe and is now well established.
And I always appreciate your sharing this and all my posts on social media and linking to it on your blog and newsletters. Just please don’t use it as medical advice or recommendation, it’s for information and inspiration as we explore the HEART of health.
Use these links to share the heart of health wherever you connect.
Oxalate is a waste product of the body’s metabolism but is also found in many foods including peanuts, rhubarb, spinach, beets, Swiss chard, chocolate, sweet potatoes- and watercress.
I didn’t plan to write a blog about watercress, despite the name, which is a play on words-my family name, Cress, and attributes of watercress -green, plant, tangy, nutritious, aquatic.
But people searching the web for information about watercress find this blog and the most common questions they need answered include
Does watercress cause kidney stones?
Can I eat watercress if I’ve had kidney stones?
Does watercress cure kidney stones?
What are kidney stones?
Stones, or urinary tract calculi, don’t usually cause symptoms as long as they stay in the kidney. But if they migrate down into the ureter, the tiny tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder, trouble begins. As the stones try to wiggle their way down the narrow passageway, spasms of pain result; and the bigger the stone the worse.
Fortunately, most stones less than 10 mm, or about 3/8 of an inch, eventually pass into the bladder and out the body through the urethra. Some get stuck and must be removed. Occasionally, large stones can block the kidney, leading to infection. But , once you have had a stone, you want to prevent another.
What causes kidney stones and why care about oxalate?
We know what substances cause most stones- chemicals that normally pass through the urine but sometimes build up, harden and form into tiny rock-like structures called calculi. Calcium causes 95% of calculi, while the other 5% are made of uric acid, struvite, or cystine.
Calcium can’t travel out of the body alone, it needs a companion, either phosphate or oxalate. So people who have too much oxalate in their blood are at risk of calcium oxalate stones, the most common type- either from
Oxalate is a chemical composed of carbon-C and oxygen-O molecules. It combines with other elements to form salts, one of which is calcium oxalate.
Oxalate is a waste product of the body’s metabolism but is also found in many foods including fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, grains, legumes, and even chocolate and tea. Some examples of foods that have significant levels of oxalate include peanuts, rhubarb, spinach, beets, Swiss chard, chocolate, sweet potatoes- and watercress.
So to answer the questions-
No watercress itself does not cause kidney stones, but the calcium and oxalate in watercress can.
It depends. If you did not have a calcium oxalate stone and are not prone to that type, you should be able to eat watercress with no worries. If you have had multiple calcium oxalate stones, especially if they were large and required surgery, you may want to avoid any oxalate containing foods at all.
Not exactly, but the calcium in watercress binds oxalate , removing it from the body in the urine. So there is less oxalate to make more stones.
Drink enough water to produce 2-2.5 quarts/liters of urine every day.
A high fluid, preferably water, intake can prevent build up of these stone causing chemicals. At least 2 quarts/liters daily is recommended, more if one does heavy physical activity , sports, or lives in a hot climate.
Limit the amount of sodium-salt-in the diet.
Since the majority of stones contain calcium, it might make sense to limit calcium. Calcium oxalate is a salt, but another important salt is sodium chloride, regular table salt.
The kidneys spend more time filtering sodium; so with less sodium, more calcium can be flushed away and so it’s not making stones. Here are 5 tips to reduce salt intake from WebMD. (They also help lower high blood pressure.)
Limit intake of certain animal proteins.
High purine foods can cause the less common uric acid stones. To prevent uric acid stones, cut down on high-purine foods such as red meat, organ meats, beer/alcoholic beverages, meat-based gravies, sardines, anchovies and shellfish.
Eat a whole foods, plant based diet.
Although watercress and other greens contain oxalate, it’s probably not necessary to avoid them entirely; they also are a good source of calcium which attaches to the oxalate, removing both from the body. Moderate amounts with adequate fluid intake should be safe, unless your doctor tells your otherwise.
Follow a healthy diet plan that has mostly vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
Limit sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, especially those that have high fructose corn syrup.
Limit alcohol because it can increase uric acid levels in the blood and avoid short term diets for the same reason.
Drink beverages with lime and lemon juice.
This information is current as of the publication date; it is general medical information that helps doctors and patients make decisions about what is right for them. Medical recommendations and practice change as we learn new things. Discuss with your physician or appropriate healthcare provider.
This was a simple explanation about kidney stones but you can get more detailed info at these links.
You must be logged in to post a comment.