Firstly, we need to look at whether we are talking about ‘alkaline food’ or alkaline-supporting food.
There are very, very few alkaline foods, but many foods that support us to alkalize in the body.
This covers many interpretations, from the production of sodium bicarbonate in the stomach to improved support against acidifying inflammation.
So I’m suggesting watercress is firmly placed in group two.
Watercress: Carcinogen Chaser.
Watercress is an often-overlooked, leafy green food source. It’s a close cousin of mustard greens, cabbage, and arugula. And… it’s a powerful anti-carcinogen. It can help starve tumours of essential blood and oxygen significantly inhibiting the activation of carcinogens.
Many natural health writers score it as among the top 36 foods that help cleanse our entire body. We can give our liver a big boost with the cleansing action of watercress. It helps to release enzymes in the liver that clean it out and help rid it of toxic buildup. It contains glucosinolate compounds, which have been found to have anti-cancer properties.
A phase II clinical trial demonstrated and presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) showed that watercress extract taken multiple times a day can significantly inhibit cancer.
The trial showed that the watercress extract detoxifies environmental carcinogens and toxins found in cigarette smoke. (It also discovered that the effect is stronger in people who lack certain genes involved in processing carcinogens).
Researchers found that the compound, phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), (that’s where it gets that unique peppery taste), can interfere with the function of a protein that plays a critical role in cancer development.
“Cigarette smokers are at far greater risk than the general public for developing lung cancer, and helping smokers quit should be our top cancer prevention priority in these people,” said Jian-Min Yuan, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of the UPCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Science and an epidemiologist with Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health. “But nicotine is very addictive, and quitting can take time and multiple relapses. Having a tolerable, nontoxic treatment, like watercress extract, that can protect smokers against cancer would be an incredibly valuable tool in our cancer-fighting arsenal.”
Dr. Yuan, who also is Pitt’s Arnold Palmer Endowed Chair in Cancer Prevention, and his colleagues enrolled 82 cigarette smokers in the randomized clinical trial. The participants either took 10 milligrams of watercress extract mixed in 1 millilitre of olive oil four times a day for a week or they took a placebo. Each group of participants then had a one week “wash-out” period where they didn’t take anything and then switched so that those getting the placebo now received the extract. They all continued their regular smoking habits throughout the trial.
In one week, the watercress extract reduced activation of the carcinogen known as nicotine-derived nitrosamine ketone in the smokers by an average of 7.7 percent. It increased detoxification of benzene by 24.6 percent and acrolein by 15.1 percent, but had no effect on crotonaldehyde. All the substances are found in cigarette smoke.
Participants who lacked two genes involved in a genetic pathway that helps the antioxidant glutathione remove carcinogens and toxicants from the body saw an even bigger benefit to taking the watercress extract, which increased their detoxification of benzene by 95.4 percent, acrolein by 32.7 percent and crotonaldehyde by 29.8 percent.
A phase III clinical trial in hundreds of people must be performed before the treatment could be recommended for smokers, and Dr. Yuan warned that while eating cruciferous vegetables, such as watercress and broccoli, are good for people, they are unlikely to have the same pronounced effect as the extract.