Watercress is an herb I remember my grandmother gathering. She would get it from the banks of streams and creeks flowing on their farm. I could never imagine that I would be writing about the anti-cancer benefits of a herb as plain and simple as watercress.

Recently, researchers from the University of Minnesota tested 82 smokers and found a compound in watercress called phenethyl isothiocyanate that was extremely effective in fighting lung cancer. A 2014 study from China’s First Affiliated Hospital of Guiyang Medical College found the same compound halted the growth of leukemia cancer cells. A University of Pittsburgh study, also conducted in 2014, found it could halt the growth of prostate cancer. Georgetown University researchers proved in 2011 that the compound inhibited the growth of cervical cancer and breast cancer cells.

Watercress contains a lot of antioxidants. It has xanthophyll, beta-carotene (a component of vitamin A), alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol (two derivatives of vitamin E). All of these phytochemicals have been shown to slow free radical formation in the body which slows and even halts the development of disease.

I am not aware of a study investigating the sugar nutrients in watercress but almost all plant bitters and herbs have sugar nutrients as part of their constitution. No doubt we haven’t heard the last of what constitutes the immune system support properties of this plant. Clearly, the lowly herb is packed with nutritional power.

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