Researchers fed 30 men and 30 women 85 grams of watercress daily, in addition to their regular diets. The participants were between the ages of 19 and 35, and half were smokers.
Among those with cancer, damage to their white blood cells decreased by 22.9 percent.
Antioxidant levels in the blood also increased significantly over the course of the study, particularly among smokers. Antioxidants remove cell-damaging "free radicals" from the body, thus reducing the risk of cancer.
The cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage have long been held in regard for their anticancer effects. Their little-known cousin, watercress, also shows extraordinary potential in the realm of cancer prevention and management, as well as offering the culinary versatility of a delicious leafy green. The anticancer benefits of watercress may arise from its ability to increase the level of antioxidants in the blood and to protect DNA against damage
In fact, growing evidence suggests that watercress may lower the risk of prostate, colon, and breast cancers, and may counteract certain processes by which cancers proliferate and spread.
Watercress is an excellent source of the antioxidants vitamins A and C, as well as vitamin K, an essential micronutrient for bone health. It is also a rich natural source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoid nutrients that are gaining attention for their ability to protect vision and support cardiovascular health.
Watercress is an abundant source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that may be particularly beneficial for the eyes and the heart.
High dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin is linked to a lower risk of advanced age-related macular (eye) degeneration, the most common cause of adult blindness.15,16 One cup of raw watercress contains over 1,900 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin,8 suggesting that watercress consumption might help prevent the occurrence of vision-robbing macular degeneration.
Growing evidence suggests that lutein and zeaxanthin may also offer important protection for the cardiovascular system. Individuals with higher blood levels of lutein and zeaxanthin were found to have less atherosclerosis of the arteries of the neck than those with lower blood levels. Furthermore, people with higher blood levels of lutein were less likely to succumb to a heart attack than those with lower levels.
The study was funded by the Watercress Alliance, composed of the three largest watercress producers in the
Quote: "Population studies have shown links between the intakes of cruciferous vegetables like watercress and a reduced risk of a number of cancers.... What makes this study unique is it involves people eating watercress in easily achievable amounts, to see what impact that might have on known bio-markers of cancer risk, such as DNA damage." - Lead Researcher Professor Ian Rowland.
When human prostate cancer cells were exposed to PEITC, both proliferation (multiplication of cells) and tumorigenesis (production of tumors) were inhibited. This compound also triggered apoptosis, or the death of cancerous cells.
Similarly, crude watercress extract was “significantly protective” against three stages of the carcinogenic process in human colon cancer cells. The stages investigated were initiation, proliferation, and metastasis (spread of cancer).12 Isothiocyanate compounds from watercress and broccoli were found to hinder the activity of matrix metalloproteinase-9, an enzyme that plays a role in progression of certain cancers by breaking down natural barriers in the body that impede the expansion of existing tumors. These watercress and broccoli-derived compounds were also shown to suppress a highly invasive breast cancer cell line.13
Furthermore, in laboratory models of cellular activity, watercress isothiocyanates restrained certain pro-inflammatory compounds that are associated with chronic inflammation and cancer.14
In addition, researchers at the
1. Eating watercress found to kill cancer cells Monday, February 26, 2007, by David Gutierrez
2. Watercress Benefits for Cancer Protection, Vision, and Heart Health, By Erika Alexia Tsoukanelis
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