This Underdog Green Could Give You an Athletic Edge

Tumeric spiced carrot dip with fresh cress and coriander
Tumeric spiced carrot dip with fresh cress and coriander Enrique Díaz / 7cero / Getty Images

You’re down with spinach and kale, and you may even flirt with chard on occasion. But if you routinely pass by the pile of watercress at the farmers market, you’re mak­ing a mistake. The green is a nutrition power­ house—especially for the fitness ­minded.

For starters, it’s high in antioxidants, com­pounds that promote recovery after exercise. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that guys who exercised hard, then ate a handful of watercress every day for two months, showed fewer signs of cell damage than those who skipped the green. Their bod­ies were repairing themselves faster from the tough workouts—probably due to those anti­oxidants, researchers think. It also meant that the plant eaters were ready sooner for their next high ­intensity bout.

Plus, watercress has a ton of two antioxi­dants in particular—vitamins A and K. Those help build healthy bones and tissue, boost the immune system, and maintain eye health.

Watercress is in season, so grab a bunch (or three). Store it in a perforated bag and eat it soon—it goes bad quickly. Add watercress to sandwiches and stir­-fries; mince it with garlic, olive oil, walnuts, salt, and pepper for pesto; and toss it in salads. Some even swear it’s a hangover cure. Only one way to find out.