Watercress cures cancer, baldness and dull salads

20 Mar

One of the super miraculous ingredients of watercress is...water

I’m in love with watercress at the moment and not just because my iphone app seasons says it is in season locally.  Watercress tastes delicious and peppery, has many medicinal properties (from cancer to baldness cures), speeds up metabolisms, is a diuretic, and helps pick up your energy if you’re feeling tired. Gram for gram, watercress contains more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and more folate than bananas. But I’m not the only one who’s fallen for this super superfood, according to watercress.co.uk, annual sales have increased by £18 million a year over the past four years to more than £55 million in 2010.

As you can see from the table, it is rich in vitamin A (from beta-carotene) and vitamin C, and is a source of folate, calcium, iron and vitamin E. It also contains  vitamin K, thiamin, vitamin B6, potassium and iodine and is  low in sodium. It is 93% water and therefore low in calories, contains a tiny bit of carbohydrate and fat but also has protein. One cereal bowl contains roughly one of your one a day.

Historically – according to watercress.co.uk, in 400 BC on the Island of Kos, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is said to have located his first hospital beside a stream so that he could grow a plentiful supply of watercress to help treat his patients, the Greek general Xenophon made his solders eat it to increase their vigour before going into battle and Roman emperors said it enabled them to make “bold decisions.’

However the really blinding thing that qualifies watercress for super super status is the link to cancer cure. Watercress.co.uk outlines a recent groundbreaking study linking watercress to a potential cure for cancer.  Here’s an extract:  water cress contains the compound, phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), which is able to interfere with the function of a protein called Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF), which plays a critical role in cancer development. As tumours develop they rapidly outgrow their existing blood supply and further development isn’t possible until they are able to obtain enough oxygen and nutrients to maintain the growth of cancer cells. To get past this roadblock, the cancer cells send out signals which cause the surrounding normal tissues to grow new blood vessels into the tumour which then supply oxygen and nutrients. HIF is at the heart of this process of inducing new blood vessel growth. However, PEITC, of which watercress is the richest natural source, was shown in laboratory tests to have the ability to block the function of HIF.

Watercress is a healthy leafy green raw vitamin essential

The best thing is that it is really cheap to buy and and really easy to use.  Although – I don’t recommend adding to your green smoothies unless of course you like a peppery kick with your apple flavoured breakfast.

Oh – and PS – also according to watercress.co.uk, it is also believed to be an aphrodisiac. In Crete, islanders swear by its powers and ancient recipes are handed down from one generation to the next. In the 1970s, an Arab prince was reputed to have had special consignments flown out from the UK, presumably to help him satisfy his harem! And in Hampshire its special powers are part of folklore.

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