How watercress can help prevent DNA damage during exercise?


The 2012 study into DNA protection after exercise

In 2012 Doctor Fogarty et al widened the research into the powerful properties watercress possesses in preventing DNA damage by examining its affect in an exercise environment.

The study used a sample of ten ‘healthy’ males who were required to consume 85g of watercress daily for 8 weeks. The participants were then asked to engage in high intensity exercise on a treadmill. This was compared to a control group with the same program of activity where no watercress was to be consumed, as well as a further group who consumed watercress acutely two hours before exercise.

The results found that exercise increases DNA damage, as well as increasing lipid peroxidation, whilst watercress consumed over 8 weeks or for 2 hrs before exercise reduced DNA damage as well as lipid peroxidation. This provides support for the belief in the powerful protective effects of this leafy green vegetable and highlights its contribution in mitigating exercise induced DNA damage. Commenting on his previous research and future expectations for watercress, Dr Fogarty said: 

“we all know that regular exercise is extremely beneficial for our overall health. what we often forget is that each specific workout can actually be quite stressful. the type of stress that exercise causes is actually quite similar to the other types of stresses our bodies are exposed to, such as environmental pollution, cigarette smoke and even sun light. the role of foods such as watercress in our diet is therefore of extreme importance, as we’ve shown it to help dampen the body’s response to stress. so, regardless if you run marathons, swim the channel or simply walk slightly quicker because you’re late for the train to work, watercress can help your body deal with the daily stresses it is exposed to.””

— dr fogarty

Fogarty continued:

““the next stage of our research is to find out if this interesting food can also help improve exercise performance. there are so many weird and wonderful chemicals found in this plant that we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg in regards to what it can do for overall human performance, not just the chris froomes of this world.””

Independent peer reviewed research papers

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

Mark C Fogarty, Ciara M Hughes, George Burke, John C Brown and Gareth W Davison


Watch our video to find out about the total body benefits of watercress.