Broccoli is fast becoming a one stop wonder food. Studies have so far show that it can help regulate blood pressure and fight heart disease, it combats lung disease, and also acts as an anti-bacterial in the gut.
Heart Disease Prevention
Scientific studies have shown that the more broccoli that is eaten, the more blood pressure falls to within safe limits. Also broccoli may be able to help protect against heart disease. Whether or not it can help to halt or reverse heart disease is still not clear.
Lung Disease Prevention
Broccoli, as well as being a “leafy green vegetable”, meaning that it is already known for having bountiful supplies of quality nutrients, it also contains a substance called sulforaphane, which can help to reduce cell damage caused by serious lung disease.
The sulforaphane works by increasing the activity levels of the NRF2 gene, which is present in human lung cells. This gene protects lung cells from damage caused by toxins. In one study sulforaphane was able to restore reduced levels of NRF2 in cells exposed to cigarette smoke.
Lead researcher at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine said that;
“Future studies should target NRF2 as a novel strategy to increase antioxidant protection in the lungs and test its ability to improve lung function in people with COPD.” Dr Shyam Biswal, 2008.
Sulforaphane is also linked with the reduction in risk of heart attacks and stroke, as it helps to protect blood vessels. Research has shown that it can also help with cell damage caused by diabetes.
Bowel Cancer and Broccoli
Research from the University of Illinois have discovered that it also helps to prevent bowel cancer (colon cancer). The researchers are hoping that the compounds present in broccoli will also be effective against breast and prostate cancer.
It is however important not to overcook broccoli if you wish to gain the maximum health benefits from it. It is best to steam broccoli, not to boil it.
“Many people overcook broccoli. Now we know our digestive tract can salvage the agent sulforaphane even if that happens.” – Prof Elizabeth Jeffery, of the University of Illinois.
Professor Jeffery has been studying broccoli for several years now. In 2006 she first announced research that showed that broccoli proteins contained the anticancer agent sulforaphane in a collaborative piece of work. She gained her doctorate at the University of London in Biochemistry and is now Professor of Nutritional Pharmacology and Toxicology.
Broccoli contains an abundance of glutamic acid, which is a form of vegetable protein. It is this compound that is the cause of the health benefits of broccoli.
Broccoli is possibly one of the most abundant superfoods, along with tomatoes, and is very versatile in cooking. Popular in both stir fry dishes, steamed, in soups or stewed, there is really no reason to leave broccoli off your superfood menu.
Broccoli can be eaten raw in salads, stir fried, steamed or boiled. It also works well in soups, such as broccoli and stilton. We recommend adding more broccoli to your pot next time you are cooking.
- Glucoraphanin hydrolysis by microbiota in the rat cecum results in sulforaphane absorption. By Ren-Hau Lai, Michael Miller and Elizabeth Jeffery. Food Funct., 2010, DOI:10.1039/C0FO00110D
- Broccoli’s cancer protection is activated by bacteria in the lower gut. 22 Oct 2010 By Anna Simpson. rsc.org
- Matusheski N.V., Swarup R., Juvik J.A., Mithen R., Bennet M., and Jeffery E.H., Epithiospecifier Protein from Broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. ssp. Italic) Inhibits Formation of the Anticancer Agent Sulforaphane. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2006; 54:2069-76.