Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Berro (roll the ‘r’), commonly known as Watercress, is actually a superfood in disguise as it is also perceived as a weed! However, it is absolutely a superfood due to the over 40 unique vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals it contains. So much so, that it has been ranked number one on the United States Center for Disease Control’s ‘Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables’ list!
Berro has a peppery kick, and is part of the cruciferous family along with cabbage, brussel sprouts and kale. This green leafy vegetable has countless health benefits with one of the main ones being its ability to reduce the risk of cancer.
So, let’s talk about The Big C – cancer. This topic is very close to my heart as I have a family history of cancer and have lost a few close relatives to this disease. It is, unfortunately, very common affecting 1 in 3 people in the United States. Most of us know someone who has been affected by cancer. The good news is that you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing it and, in some cases, fight cancer.
So what’s really going on and how can we reduce our risk of developing cancer? Well, to put it simply, cancer is when your body cells grow out of control and spread to other parts of the body. Your body is made up of trillions of cells that during your lifetime grow and divide when needed, and when they are abnormal, damaged, or get old they die and new, healthy cells are formed.
However, in some people this process is not happening as it should, and when they get abnormal, damaged or old cells they do not die but continue to grow, making less space for new, healthy cells to be formed. This can happen anywhere in the body, and can form lumps or tumors which can invade other tissues nearby, or travel in the body to other parts of the body and form new tumors. Luckily with the advancement of research and science, a lot of cancers can be detected early and treated without affecting other parts of the body.
So, let’s look at how Berro can prevent the growth of abnormal, damaged or old cells to reduce our risk of cancer formation.
On to the happy news. Research has indicated that with daily consumption of berro, a significant decrease in cellular damage (damaged cells can lead to cancer) has been noted. In addition, berro contains high levels of specific phytochemicals that have been shown to have anti-cancer activities. Beneficial effects of berro consumption have also been noted on inhibiting the activation of the key stages of cancer growth, and even up a 50% reduction of existing tumors! Wow, isn’t nature amazing!
Additionally, berro is extremely high in Vitamins C and A, and these antioxidant boosting vitamins works synergistically with the phytochemicals found in berro causing the cancer fighting effects to be even more effective, as the antioxidant properties reduce cellular damage in the body.
Berro usually grows wild in, or close to, slow moving waterways but it is best to get the berro only from trusted, clean waterways, or from a store to ensure the vegetable is not full of toxins absorbed from the waterways. Choose berro that is as fresh as possible, has dark green and firm leaves and stem, doesn’t show signs of wilting, and has no yellow spots or slimy texture.
Berro grows wild in the spring water stream back home in New Zealand on my parent’s farm, so this recipe, which you can find in the Medicinal Meals Book, was created by my amazing mother Rixt Botello! Rixt is a Medical Herbalist, who understood the healing properties of this superfood and combined these particular nutrients together to enhance the health benefits!
Chopping or tearing the berro before you eat it, as in the recipe below, activates particular phytochemicals to release more bio available cancer fighting nutrients. Give this bold salad a try to have as an addition to your lunch and dinner meals!
BOLD BERRO SALAD RECIPE
3 cups Berro
1 large carrot
Juice of 1/2 an orange
Crushed Walnuts or Pecans
Pinch of salt
• Wash the berro well to ensure the vegetable is clean.
• Roughly chop or tear the Berro and place in a salad bowl.
• Grate the carrot and add to the chopped berro.
• Squeeze the fresh orange juice on top and mix well. You may like to add a pinch of salt to your liking – however, the Berro should have a peppery and spicy taste that is well balanced with the sweet taste of the carrot, and acidity of the orange.
• Top with some crushed nuts for some extra nutrients.
Lonneke Botello Hernandez is a Clinical Nutritionist and Personal Trainer, who has experience in helping with many health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight, energy, joint health and many other areas. Contact her via the Aslon Antiaging Clinic Facebook page or website to see how she can help you on your health journey.