Snapshot of watercress benefits…
No single food can maintain and promote good health. That comes from the overall benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle, but some foods have been classed as 'superfoods' because they are especially rich in health-promoting nutrients, antioxidants or phytochemicals (bioactive plant compounds) British Nutrition Foundation (2006) Superfoods. Nutriton Bullitin 31 (3), 171-172) and therefore pack more of a nutritional punch than others. So is watercress one of the original superfoods? Evidence suggests it is.
This Website provides science-based information for health professionals and focuses on:
• the nutritional composition of watercress
• the potential health benefits of watercress
• a summary of research studies relating to watercress
Key research findings include:
• When smokers ate watercress with each meal for 3 days, the activation of a key carcinogen (cancer causing agent) in tobacco was inhibited.
• An in vitro study involving breast cancer cells found that the addition of a watercress extract inhibited their invasive potential.
• A study investigating the effects of a diet supplemented with PEITC in mice grafted with human prostate tumours resulted in a 50% reduction in tumour weight.
• Watercress is a good source of key nutrients and carotenoids, such as lutein and beta-carotene, associated with the maintenance of eye and skin health. Daily consumption of watercress increased plasma lutein levels by 100% and beta-carotene levels by 33%.
• Daily watercress consumption has been shown to decrease plasma triglyceride levels by about 10%.
• Watercress is rich in vitamin A (via beta-carotene) and vitamin C, and a source of folate, calcium, iron and vitamin E. It also contains a variety of phytochemicals including glucosinolates, lutein, flavonoids and hydroxycinammic acids.
• Watercress has significant antioxidant activity in vitro.
• 80g (one cereal bowl full) of watercress provides one of the 'at least five a day' portions of fruit and vegetables recommended by the Department of Health to help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.
• As a low calorie vegetable, watercress may play a role in weight management.
• Nutrients and phytochemicals in fruit and vegetables appear to work synergistically.
• The mix of nutrients and phytochemicals in watercress make it a valuable food throughout life, as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.