The Power of Raw Watercress


Watercress is a plant species with the botanical name Nasturtium officinale. Garden cress, which is known as Lepidium sativum, is related to but a different plant than watercress.

Raw watercress contains two very important and well researched compounds:

  • Phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) (a glucosinolate derivative)
  • Gluconasturtiin (phenethylglucosinolate)(a glucosinolate and a precursor of PEITC)

PEITC has the ability to modulate and turn on genes that suppress cancer by acting as a potent inducer of phase II enzymes. [i]

It is important to note that consumption of watercress should be as raw uncooked watercress. This is because when watercress is cooked, the heat will likely destroy the enzyme myrosinase. PEITC is produced from gluconasturtiin by the action of the enzyme myrosinase.

Table:  Health Benefits of Watercress



















Watercress may prevent various types of cancers



Breast Cancer





Watercress may prevent breast cancer.  watercress and broccoli-derived compounds were also shown to suppress a highly invasive breast cancer cell line



Lung Cancer





Watercress may prevent lung cancer



Prostate Cancer





Watercress may prevent prostate cancer.  When human prostate cancer cells were exposed to PEITC, both proliferation (multiplication of cells) and tumorigenesis (production of tumors) were inhibited



Colon Cancer





Watercress extract was “significantly protective” against three stages of the carcinogenic process in human colon cancer cells. The stages investigated were initiation, proliferation, and metastasis (spread of cancer)








Watercress isothiocyanates restrained certain pro-inflammatory compounds that are associated with chronic inflammation and cancer.












Nicotine-derived nitrosamine ketone (NNK), also known as 4-(methylnitro-samino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone is one of the key tobacco-specific nitrosamines which play an important role in carcinogenesis Watercress may inhibit(4-(methylnitro-samino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone, the primary carcinogenic compound in tobacco that is the underlying cause of Tobacco-

induced Lung Cancer.

  7 8 9

Nucleic Compounds










Watercress may help to prevent damage to the body’s Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA). Watercress supplementation in diet reduces lymphocyte DNA damage and alters blood antioxidant status in healthy adults



[i]Rose P, Faulkner K, Williamson G, Mithen R. 7-Methylsulfinylheptyl and 8-methylsulfinyloctyl isothiocyanates from watercress are potent inducers of phase II enzymes. Carcinogenesis. 2000 Nov;21(11):1983-8.

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