Watercress is a great example of a superfood; gram for gram it is richer in Vitamin C than oranges, and higher in iron than spinach. It's also packed with Beta-carotene, iron, calcium and folic acid. Quercetin, a type of flavonoid and a powerful antioxidant, is also found in greater quantities in watercress than in broccoli and tomatoes.
Scientists at Southampton University found that volunteers who ate 80 grams of watercress a day - the equivalent of a single vegetable portion - had elevated levels of cancer-fighting molecules in their blood within hours of eating the salad leaves.
The researchers added that the mechanism by which the isothiocyanates from watercress helped to inhibit cancer growth was unclear and said that further work needed to be done with larger numbers of patients to confirm their results.
The scientists found that six hours after they had eaten the leaves, the women experienced a drop in the activity of a molecule called 4E binding protein, which is thought to be involved in helping cancer cells survive.
The findings build on epidemiological studies that have shown people who eat watercress and other vegetables rich in isothiocyanates, such as broccoli and cabbage, are at lower risk of developing cancer.
Research Paper Details:
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