New Watercress Variety Shows Enhanced Health Benefits in Longer Growth Trials

Greg Howard
16th June, 2024

New Watercress Variety Shows Enhanced Health Benefits in Longer Growth Trials

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The University of Southampton developed a new watercress variety called 'Boldrewood' with a dwarf phenotype, making it more convenient for consumers
  • Boldrewood watercress has a similar antioxidant capacity to commercial watercress, ensuring it retains health benefits
  • Boldrewood has higher glucosinolate levels, which may enhance its cancer-preventive properties compared to standard watercress
Watercress, known for its nutritional benefits, has gained attention for its potential to combat oxidative stress and cancer. Recent research from the University of Southampton introduces a new watercress variety, 'Boldrewood', which promises enhanced health benefits and practical advantages for consumers[1]. Watercress is already celebrated for its high antioxidant content, which helps neutralize harmful molecules called free radicals in the body. The FRAP assay, a method used to measure antioxidant power, has established that watercress contains significant levels of antioxidants like α-tocopherol and β-carotene[2]. These antioxidants are crucial in protecting cells from oxidative damage, which can lead to various diseases, including cancer. In the study conducted by the University of Southampton, Boldrewood watercress was found to have a dwarf phenotype, meaning it grows shorter with more leaves per stem area compared to traditional watercress varieties. This makes it more convenient for consumers while maintaining comparable crop biomass. The antioxidant capacity of Boldrewood was similar to that of commercial watercress, ensuring it retains the health benefits associated with regular consumption. One of the standout findings of the Boldrewood study is its increased glucosinolate concentration. Glucosinolates are compounds found in cruciferous vegetables like watercress, which, upon consumption, convert into isothiocyanates (ITCs) with cancer-preventive properties[3]. Previous research has shown that ITCs, such as phenethyl isothiocyanate, can inhibit mTORC1 activity, a pathway involved in cancer cell growth[4]. Boldrewood's higher glucosinolate levels suggest it may be even more effective in cancer prevention than standard watercress. The study also revealed that Boldrewood's cytotoxicity to cancer cells increased with crop age at harvest. This means that older Boldrewood plants were more effective at inhibiting cancer cell growth, as indicated by a decreased IC50 value. IC50 is the concentration of a substance required to inhibit a biological process by half, and a lower IC50 indicates higher potency. This finding is significant because it suggests that allowing Boldrewood to grow for a longer period before harvest can enhance its chemopreventive properties. Additionally, the antioxidant effects of watercress have been previously demonstrated in studies involving exercise-induced oxidative stress. Watercress supplementation, both acute and chronic, was shown to attenuate DNA damage and lipid peroxidation caused by exhaustive exercise, highlighting its protective effects against oxidative stress[5]. These findings align with the antioxidant benefits observed in Boldrewood, reinforcing its potential as a health-promoting food. In conclusion, the University of Southampton's introduction of Boldrewood watercress offers a promising new option for consumers looking to enhance their diet with nutrient-dense, health-beneficial foods. With its dwarf phenotype, high antioxidant capacity, and increased glucosinolate concentrations, Boldrewood stands out as a superior variety of watercress with significant potential in cancer prevention and overall health improvement.



Main Study

1) Characterization of a new dwarf watercress (Nasturtium officinale R Br.) ‘Boldrewood’ in commercial trials reveals a consistent increase in chemopreventive properties in a longer-grown crop

Published 15th June, 2024

Related Studies

2) The ferric reducing ability of plasma (FRAP) as a measure of "antioxidant power": the FRAP assay.

Journal: Analytical biochemistry, Issue: Vol 239, Issue 1, Jul 1996

3) Systematic Review on the Metabolic Interest of Glucosinolates and Their Bioactive Derivatives for Human Health.

4) Natural product-derived antitumor compound phenethyl isothiocyanate inhibits mTORC1 activity via TSC2.

5) Acute and chronic watercress supplementation attenuates exercise-induced peripheral mononuclear cell DNA damage and lipid peroxidation.

Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙