A Crispy Way to Protect Your DNA

Preventing DNA damage and boosting the body’s antioxidant defenses at the cellular level may help lessen aging and reduce the risk of some cancers. And now it appears you can get that protection just by eating watercress.

This member of the cancer-fighting cruciferous family of vegetables was recently evaluated at the University of Ulster. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , included 60 cancer-free adults, half of whom were smokers.

The researchers looked at the participants’ blood for levels of antioxidants and signs of DNA damage. They were then split into two groups.

For eight weeks, the first group ate three ounces of raw watercress each day in addition to their regular diet. The second group (the control group) ate no watercress. After the eight weeks, the participants provided blood samples and took a seven-week break. During that time, they ate what they wanted.

The groups were then switched. Those who previously ate watercress followed a normal diet; those in the original control group ate watercress.

After this second eight-week period, researchers took final blood samples and analyzed the data. They found that when each group ate watercress, they had higher levels of antioxidants and lower levels of chemicals indicating DNA damage. What’s more, the pattern was particularly strong in smokers.

So enjoy the crunch of watercress in salads and sandwiches… and guard against DNA damage at the same time.

[Ed. Note: Kelley Herring is the founder and CEO of Healing Gourmet (www.healinggourmet.com), and is editor-in-chief of the Healing Gourmet book series. Learn more about how simple lifestyle choices can improve your health by reading ETR’s free natural health e-letter.]