Tesco's watercress supplier trials 'cancer fighting' smoothies

Tom Amery

Managing Director: The Watercress Company

14 Aug 2017

Cancer patients offered daily watercress smoothies by Tesco watercress supplier in pioneering initiative to protect their DNA.

The UK consumes more watercress per capita than anywhere else globally. The Watercress Company have been supplying Tesco with Watercress for over 41 years. The support that comes from this long-standing relationship has allowed us to consider expanding the use of watercress for its health benefits.

Patients on Fortuneswell ward and chemotherapy unit are being offered watercress smoothies to help improve their general health and well-being. The initiative has been developed by the hospital in partnership with Tesco supplier The Watercress Company.

Watercress 'fights' Cancer

Watercress is brimming with a wealth of nutrients such as vitamin C, iron and calcium. There are also specific compounds and enzymes that are activated when watercress is chewed or blended into a smoothie. Watercress is a rich source of isothiocyanates (ITCs). When eaten raw ITCs have been linked with the reduction of DNA damage and the inhibition of carcinogenic activity. 

Over the last decade many studies have investigated the beneficial effects of watercress, particularly relating to the reduction of cancer risk and inhibition of cancerous cell growth. In 2007, research carried out by Professor Ian R Rowland of the University of Ulster supported the hypothesis that consumption of watercress can reduce the risk of colon cancer in humans via a decrease in DNA damage.

Watercress Smoothies

In 2009, further research, led by Professor Graham Packham of the University of Southampton, demonstrated that a specific ITC found in watercress (PEITC) may have the ability to suppress breast cancer development by ‘turning off’ a signal in the body, thereby starving the growing tumour of essential blood and oxygen.

In response to these studies, Dorset County Hospital (DCH) is keen to introduce the potential benefits of watercress to their patients and staff. Chief Dietitian Isabelle Hooley is passionate about the scheme:

“We are delighted to work with The Watercress Company on this trial, giving patients and staff on the Fortuneswell Ward an easy way to sip, swig or slurp an extra portion of fruit and vegetables; a dietary change which is proven to have health benefits.”

If the trial is deemed a success, the project could be scaled-up to involve other hospitals and full clinical trials may also be considered.

The smoothie is a blend of pineapple juice, mango (frozen), spinach and of course watercress.

Watercress at Tesco

The Watercress Company’s Dorset and Hampshire farms have been growing watercress in mineral-rich spring water since the 1850s. We're delighted to be able to develop a product with DCH that has such a benefit to patients.

Support from Tesco

Tesco have been incredibly supportive to our business and 41 years of supply is testament to this. The success of watercress in the UK and our business growth is down to the foresight and support of the teams at Tesco head office and in stores. 

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