Posts Tagged ‘watercress and cancer’

Broccoli and Watercress Sprouts Fight Cancer

In Alternative Cancer Therapies, Anticancer diet, Anticancer foods, foods for colon cancer, foods for breast cancer, antioxidants, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cancer Coach, Uncategorized on February 27, 2017 at 9:43 am

[Editor’s note] This post was originally published in February 2017. It has been updated and republished in March 2019

It is well known that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and watercress contain powerful anticancer compounds. But did you know that eating their respective sprouts can supercharge the health benefits? Sprouts are high in vitamins C, A, and phytonutrients that support the immune system.

In sprout form these little three to four day old plants contain almost 100 times the level of cancer-fighting sulforaphane than the mature plants. The phytonutrients in these sprouts up-regulate antioxidant enzymes and detoxification processes which clear toxic compounds from the body. And, that is just the beginning—read on to find out how sprouts knock the socks off cancer.

 What’s in a Sprout

Isothiocyanates (ITCs), such as sulforaphane, are sulfur-containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables. They support matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) activity which reduces the breakdown of connective tissue within a cell that impede the expansion of existing tumors. Matrix MMP-9 plays important roles in tumor invasion and angiogenesis. Secretion of MMP-9 has been reported in various cancer types including lung, colon, and breast cancer.

ITCs also kill off cancer cells, including cancer stem cells, which is essential for combating cancer metastases. Isothiocyanates restrain certain pro-inflammatory compounds that are associated with chronic inflammation and cancer.

The ITC sulforaphane helps support the anti-inflammatory Nrf2 pathway which protects cells against oxidative and free radical activity. It supports the detoxification process by inducing Phase 2 detoxification enzymes, inhibiting the activation of pro-carcinogens, and  by boosting cellular glutathione levels.  Sulforaphane promotes cancer cell death and inhibits cancer cell proliferation. It also supports the immune system and in particular, increases Natural Killer Cell activity.

Sulforaphane also inhibits Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that increases one’s risk of stomach and colorectal cancer.  It is also anti-viral and has been found effective against the Epstein Barr Virus and may be helpful against Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Quercetin, another potent antioxidant highly concentrated in sprouts, is a strong anti-inflammatory and prevents tumor cell growth.  It also aids in the removal of excess estrogen from the body — it stimulates liver function to detoxify estrogen and other carcinogenic agents.

Lutein is another powerful antioxidant that neutralizes cancer-causing free radicals (it is also essential for many things, including eye health, protecting against macular degeneration, and for maintaining strong eye tissue). Lutein (and zeaxanthin) may be beneficial to cardio health by preventing hardening of the arteries.

Glutathione has been labeled the ‘mother of all antioxidants” due to its incredible ability to disarm free radicals, detoxify the body, and boost the immune system.

Broccoli Sprouts

broccoli-sproutsBroccoli sprouts are extremely high in cancer fighting activity, particularly against lung, colon, and breast cancers. Compounds in broccoli speed up the removal of estrogen from the body, helping to suppress breast cancer. They also target cancer stem cells, the cells responsible for metastasis.

Broccoli sprouts contain a high amount of the cancer-busting and immune boosting substance sulforaphane. They are also abundant in quercetin, glutathione, beta carotene, indoles, vitamin C, lutein, glucarate, and the metabolic substance DIM, which is a natural aromatase inhibitor.

Broccoli sprouts are rich in cholesterol reducing fiber and have anti-viral and anti-ulcer activity. They are also a super source of chromium that helps regulate insulin and blood sugar.


Watercress Sproutswatercress-sprouts

Sometimes called peppergrass, watercress is delicious and pungent. It is also one of the most nutrient-dense foods known. It is rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids, including lutein. Watercress also offers significant quercetin, EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate), flavanols such a kaempferol, lycopene, idole-3 carbinol (13C), sulforaphane, as well as DIM. It is a good source of riboflavin, vitamin C, A and K, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, and contains trace amounts of omega 3’s. Watercress is one of the best food sources of iodine for vegans.

Watercress also contains a high amount of PEITC (phenylethylisothiocyanate) which has been shown to protect DNA from damage. PEITC reduces the growth of breast cancer cells, triggers apoptosis (cancer cell death), and decreases angiogenesis. It inhibits the growth of HER2 expression as well as cancer metastasis.

PEITC (also found in some other cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli) deactivates mutant p53 in tumor cells but leaves normal p53 alone. P53 regulates cell division by keeping cells from growing and dividing too fast or in an uncontrolled way. A mutation in p53 is a permanent change in the nucleotide sequence of DNA. Loss of p53 function can be deleterious, and about 50% of all human cancers have a mutated p53 gene.

Watercress has antioxidant, antigenotoxic (the process by which chemical agents damage genetic information within a cell causing mutations), and anti-inflammatory properties.

Studies show that a regular intake of watercress has been associated with protection against breast, colon, and other cancers.

Watercress and broccoli affect all stages of cancer: initiation, proliferation, and metastasis. So, what’s not to love about these sprouts? Plus, it is a lot easier to consume a handful of sprouts than it is to down a pound and a half of broccoli or an enormous plate of watercress– which, for example,  is the amount it would take to get an equivalent amount of sulforaphane.

Add sprouts to your smoothies; use on sandwiches, on top of pizza, in salads, and as a garnish for soups. I make wonderful gluten-free pizza crusts using cauliflower or garbanzo bean flour, and pile the pizza high with arugula and sprouts just before serving.  Yum!

Just a reminder that while  eating cruciferous vegetables is a important for optimal health, and may support you during the COVID-19 pandemic. Choose to consume cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, radish, and kale). It is necessary to have sufficient iodine in the diet when consuming high quantities  (including DIM).

Can’t find sprouts locally or worried about others handling your raw vegetables?  Grow your own. You can grow your own sprouts and now it is easier than ever (no changing the water several times a day, just add water to the tray day one and done. Here is my first tray of Hamama salad green sprouts.. Next up are broccoli sprouts.  Order your own Hamama sprout kit.

Hamama Sprouts

Hamama Salad Green Sprouts

Here is a great book if you wish to learn more about growing your own sprouts: Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening: How to Grow Nutrient-Dense, Soil-Sprouted Greens in Less Than 10 days

Curcera-SGS is an excellent supplement if you cannot find or grow broccoli sprouts.

Found this article helpful? Please let the elves know:

In your everlasting good health,


~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and holistic cancer strategist who helps people make better, healthier, non-toxic choices. She emphasizes the critical nature of addressing the root cause of cancer and not just its presenting symptoms (such as the tumor). Elyn specializes in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer and debunks the myths associated. She is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and was creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. Elyn is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn was the former Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Contact Elyn via her website. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone or in person.

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Elyn Jacobs does not provide medical advice. The information provided is for general information only. No online site should be used as a substitute for personal medical attention.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not a recommendation to forgo medical advice and treatment.  This post is not intended to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose any disease or condition. This post does not represent medical advice nor should it be considered to be medical advice or a replacement for medical advice.  I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist, naturopathic doctor, or conventional oncologist. The information provided is from my research and not to be taken as scientific evidence.

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Food Fatigue: The Perils of Eating Too Healthy

In Uncategorized on June 23, 2015 at 8:41 am

What could be wrong with trying to eat healthy?  Eating a healthy diet will go a long way to improve quality and quantity of life, right?

Yes, it certainly will.  However, sometimes when people try to eat super well, they end eating the same things, day after day because they feel compelled to get in all their daily anti-cancer foods.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a super healthy eater, and encourage my family and clients to take an active role in choosing nutrient-dense foods. But when you just can’t stomach one more smoothie, salad, soup or stew; when you open the refrigerator and NOTHING interests you, you have food fatigue.

Some uber-healthy eaters develop an eating disorder referred to as orthorexia, an obsession with eating healthy foods and avoiding ‘unhealthy’ foods.  While that might not seem like something to be worried about, in extremes it causes people to eliminate entire food groups from their diets and makes them over-analyze everything in their food.  People with orthorexia are often afraid to eat in restaurants for fear of unhealthy ingredients and preparation, or avoid social engagements and thus often become depressed and lonely.

But short of becoming orthorexia, food fatigue can create a loss of desire to eat.  While calorie restriction has anticancer benefits, the body needs sufficient nutrients to fortify the immune system and support the body against cancer.  Coupled with an already rigid diet, being too bored by our food choices to eat will limit the range and extent of nutrients ingested. We are constantly bombarded with ‘eat this and not that’.

Beyond the obvious–eat organic and avoid GMOs, processed, fast and fried foods whenever possible; don’t stress about every little thing that goes into your mouth.  Apart from food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances, entire food groups need not be eliminated—unless by choice.  (Junk food is not a food group, just in case this gave you a license to grab some fries–at least not often). And even if one chooses to eliminate certain foods, it is still not a good idea to eat the same foods day in and day out. Eating a balanced but varied diet will serve us better in the long-run.There is often a there is a fine line between eating healthy and becoming either bored with dining or being boring to dine with.

Do you suffer from Food Fatigue? Pick up a cookbook, browse a cooking magazine or dig into a pizza!

Whoa, before you think I have lost my mind, pizza can be super healthy and a delicious way to pack in a significant amount of nutrients.

gustorganics chickpea pizzaI had dinner in the city with a good friend, Tami Boehmer.  We went to Gustorganics in New York City and I had a delicious chickpea crust pizza with garlicky kale, herbed tofu feta and creamy basil pesto.  I was hooked. I have since then replicated that meal at home and expanded my toppings (and okay, I tend to go heavy on the toppings, but Gustorganics had just the right amount). You can put most anything on a pizza. Pestos and sprouts are an easy way to add flavor and pack in a lot of vegetables. Grow your own sprouts and herbs, make your own pestos or visit your local farmer’s market. Oh the places you can go with really healthy foods.

For the pizza: (serves one or two)

  1. Mix ½ cup garbanzo bean/ chickpea flour with ¼ cup filtered water, ½ tsp olive oil, dash of salt and  herbs, if using (¼ tsp dried or ½ tsp fresh). For a thinner crust, add a bit more water
  2. Spread mixture in oval, round or rectangular shape on parchment paper—crust should be about ¼” thick
  3. Bake at 375 degrees about 20 minutes until just browning on the edges. Carefully peel from paper and flip
  4. Spread sauce and/or pesto onto crust
  5. Add additional toppings and return to the oven for 5 minutes
  6. Serve with sprouts (microgreens) of choice for sprinkling on top


  • Add fresh or dried herbs to the crust mixture—I like oregano or rosemary in mine
  • 1 Tbs ground or partially ground flax seed may be added to the crust
  • When using salt, consider Celtic sea, Pink Himalayan or Redmonds Real Salt
  • When choosing olive oil, look for organic, extra virgin, and skip the supermarket brands.
  • Utilize the power of food-synergy.  When certain foods are combined, the nutritional benefits are phenomenal

pizza with oilTopping choices are endless.  Consider tomatoes, tomato sauce, pestos, thick cashew cream, olives, caramelized onions, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, kale, broccoli, roasted or grilled eggplant, organic cheese (vegan or dairy, or nutritional yeast), fresh herbs and sprouts (basil sprouts are excellent if you can find them—they can be added with the toppings and they add a huge boost of flavor)

Serve with salad or sprouts such as broccoli, kale, watercress, alfalfa or whatever you can find or grow. Sprouts are loaded with valuable health-boosting, anti-cancer phytochemicals in highly concentrated forms, so a little goes a long way.

Here are some of the variations I tried:

Kale (chopped fine and tossed with olive oil and salt) tomato bruschetta, and artichoke and basil pesto, with watercress sprouts kale artichoke pizza (right)

 caulf pizzaCurried cauliflower with mustard seeds and kale (roasted for dinner the night before), nutritional yeast and cheese; broccoli and watercress microgreens on the side.

olive pizzaKalamata olives, sundried tomato pesto, basil pesto, chopped kale (you may want to use chopped kale sautéed with olive oil and garlic), with watercress sprouts

brie pizzaBrie with Kalamata olives, sundried tomato, artichoke and basil pesto, with watercress migrogreens

basil sprout pizza Basil and artichoke pesto,basil sprouts, tomato bruschetta, with broccoli spouts 

Some people eat to live and some live to eat; I say eat good food that makes you happy.  Deprivation is never a good thing and will not nourish the soul, just don’t forget the sprouts!

For more recipes: Cancer Fighting Farm-Stand Recipes

Some of my favorite anti-cancer toppings:

Tomatoes are a powerful anti-cancer fruit, particularly due the synergistic effects of lycopene, beta-carotene, vitamin C, phenols and other nutrients and antioxidants in the tomato working together to offer cancer protection

Basil has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It contains flavonoids that help shield cell structures from radiation and oxidative damage. Both fresh basil and basil oil have strong antibacterial capabilities, so by adding the herb or oil to your salad, you can help ensure your vegetables are safe to eat.

Eggplant is rich in dietary fiber, loaded with vitamins and minerals, and contains powerful cancer fighting antioxidants such as chlorogenic acid, which fights free radicals and helps protect cells from mutating into cancer cells, and nasuin, which helps cut off the blood supply to cancer cells.

Rosemary is a powerful anti-cancer herb.  The two key ingredients in Rosemary-caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid-are potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents, which help protect the body’s cells from damage by free radicals. Rich in carnosol, Rosemary has been found to detoxify substances that can initiate the breast-cancer process. It’s widely known that an imbalance of estrogen hormones in women can contribute to breast cancer. Rosemary stimulates liver enzymes which inactivate estrogen hormones. Rosemary, along with thyme, oregano, basil and mint promote apoptosis in cancer cells and reduce their speed by blocking the enzymes they need to invade neighboring tissues. Rosemary can inhibit the formation of HCAS, the carcinogenic compounds that form when you cook protein, by 75% (so use chopped rosemary in your marinade if you choose to grill proteins)

Oregano possesses anti-bacterial as well as anti-inflammatory properties, and encourages cell death making it a powerful anti-cancer herb; but what is really exciting is that may be particularly effective against prostate cancer and may even become part of the treatment for this cancer.   

Watercress is rich in  beta-carotene and other carotenoids including lutein, calcium as well as trace amounts of omega-3’s. Watercress also contains a high amount of PEITC (phenylethylisothiocyanate) which has been shown to protect DNA from damage. Studies show that a regular intake of watercress has been associated with protection against colon cancer

Red cabbage  not only contains isothiocyanates but  also contains anthocyanins, a class of flavonids that provides as many as 36 different varieties of anticancer chemicals. Cabbage also contains a significant amount of glutamine, an amino acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. Red Cabbage boosts the immune system’s ability to produce more antibodies. Red cabbage contains large quantities of sulfur and other minerals that work as cleansing agents for the digestive system. Raw red cabbage cleans the bowels, thus helping to prevent indigestion and constipation.

Artichokes contain three amazing anticancer properties (polyphenols, antioxidants such as vitamin C and flavonoids) that protect the body against free radicals, encourage apoptosis (cell death) and cell proliferation, which means they can which means they can slow down, stop, or even completely reverse the effects of cancer.

Crucifers (kale, broccoli, broccoli rabe, watercress, arugula, etc) have numerous anti-cancer, detoxifying benefits that help prevent toxic buildup and DNA damage. Crucifers promote healthy estrogen metabolism.

gust organics photoGustOrganics is the only 100% certified organic restaurant and bar in NYC. 519 Avenue of the Americas @ 14th street – New York, NY


~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~
Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers, is a contributor to The Truth About Cancer, and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more; she writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Magazine. Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. https://elynjacobs.com/about/

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