According to a new research breast cancer can be prevented by eating watercress every day.
University of Southampton Researchers say that the vitamin-packed salad vegetable may provide one of the first natural defences against the disease.
They found that a cereal bowl-sized serving of the superfood activates changes in blood cells that hindered tumour formation.
Phenyethyl isothiocyanate or PEITC, the chemical in watercress that makes it taste peppery prevents cell damage.
The substance, previously proven to reduce cancer risk for smokers, stayed in the blood for days after watercress was eaten.
The researchers had not initially anticipated watercress to work so good against breast cancer.
They decided to test it on 12 women with the condition only after watercress solution proved efficient against cancer cells in laboratory tests.
Each women was asked to eat 80g packets, which is the size that is often sold in supermarkets, and were tested over time.
Professor Graham Packham, who led the two-year study said “Our research takes an important step towards understanding the potential health benefits of this crop,”.
“It shows that eating watercress may interfere with a pathway that has already been tightly linked to cancer development. This is not a cure for cancer but may well help to prevent the disease.”
He added: “We need to follow this research with larger scale studies. Understanding the risk factors for cancer is a key goal and studies on diet are an important part of this. Relatively little work is being performed in the UK on the links between the foods we eat and cancer development.”
Watercress, has been shown to fight infections, as it is high in vitamin C,iron and zinc.
Watercress contains substantial amounts of folic acid, calcium and iron, in addition to vitamin C and vitamin A.
Many benefits from eating watercress are claimed, such as that it acts as a stimulant, a diuretic, an expectorant, a source of phytochemicals and antioxidants, and a digestive aid. It now also seems to have cancer-inhibiting characteristic; it is widely believed to help fight against lung cancer. Watercress has a fortifying effect on the thyroid gland due to its high iodine content, thus beneficial for sufferers of hypothyroidism.