There’s another reason to eat your broccoli.
A compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables could prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
British scientists found that mice fed a diet rich in sulforaphane had significantly less cartilage damage and osteoarthritis than those that were not. Sulforaphane blocks the production of cytokine in T-cells, which is known to cause inflammation.
“The results from this study are very promising,” said Professor Ian Clark of the University of East Anglia in the UK.
“We have shown that this works in the three laboratory models we have tried, in cartilage cells, tissue and mice. We now want to show this works in humans. It would be very powerful if we could.”
Previous research has suggested that sulforaphane has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, but this is the first major study into its effects on joint health. It was published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.
Sulforaphane is produced threw chewing, which transforms a plant chemical called glucoraphanin into sulforaphan. Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts are rich in glucoraphanin, but particularly broccoli.
“This is an interesting study with promising results as it suggests that a common vegetable, broccoli, might have health benefits for people with osteoarthritis and even possibly protect people from developing the disease in the first place,” said Alan Silman, Medical Director of Arthritis Research UK, which helped fund the study.
“Until now research has failed to show that food or diet can play any part in reducing the progression of osteoarthritis, so if these findings can be replicated in humans, it would be quite a breakthrough.”
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting over 27 million people in the United States. It is a progressive disorder of the joints, caused by inflammation of the soft tissue, which worsens over time and leads to thinning of cartilage.
Meanwhile, another team of British scientists has developed a “super broccoli” that can help protect against other age-related diseases, such as cancer, obesity, and Type II diabetes.
The super broccoli known as Beneforte was developed at the UK’s Institute of Food Research using conventional breeding techniques after a wild broccoli variety was discovered that has elevated levels of glucoraphanin.
In a small study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that eating Beneforté broccoli just three times a week improved human metabolism.
Forty-eight volunteers were divided into three groups. The first group ate 400 grams of Beneforté broccoli a week (about three florets a serving), the second group ate the same amount of regular broccoli, and the third ate no broccoli.
After three months, an analysis of blood samples showed that the metabolism of people who ate Beneforté broccoli was three times higher than those that ate regular broccoli.
A slow metabolism has been linked with the development of a number of chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, cognitive decline and some cancers.