Broccoli is seriously good for you. You already knew that. But we'd wager you didn't know just how amazingly, fantastically good for you this little green vegetable is. Why, it's a miracle in a floret.
A new piece of research has uncovered hitherto unknown benefits of broccoli. Researchers at the University of East Anglia have just published a study showing that a diet rich in broccoli could help to prevent or slow down osteoarthritis, a painful degenerative disease that affects the hands, knees, hips and spine, often necessitating joint replacements. Given that osteoarthritis currently affects over 8.5 million people in the UK, which is estimated to cost the NHS over 5.2 billion pounds a year in knee and hip replacements and other treatments, any form of treatment or prevention is of interest to medics and the general public alike.
It's all about a compound called sulforaphane which is released when we eat cruciferous vegetables (that's the cabbage family to you and me) such as Brussels sprouts and cabbage, and which is present in particularly high levels in broccoli. Previous research has identified the anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties of sulforaphane. The UEA team fed sulforaphane to mice and also investigated its effects on human and cow cartilage tissue cells and found that the compound also blocks the enzymes that lead to joint destruction in osteoarthritis. Results are significant enough that further studies are being planned, including a small-scale trial in which patients awaiting knee surgery to treat osteoarthritis will be given “super broccoli” that has been bred to contain particularly high levels of sulforaphane.
Five more reasons to eat broccoli
If that isn't enough to get you munching, here are more amazing health facts about this star of the brassica family:
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Broccoli also protects your skin from sun damage, acts as a detox cure for the whole body (particularly the liver), improves eye health, makes your bones stronger, supports the functioning of your nervous system and has been proved to make you more attractive to the opposite sex. Oh, okay, we made that last bit up. But really, it's amazing this stuff isn't actually being prescribed by GPs across the country.
Tips for eating broccoli
The best way of preparing broccoli in order to maximise its health benefits is light steaming. Try:
And how much should you be eating? Even just one handful of broccoli a day (the amount that the patients in the UEA study will be asked to consume) could confer significant health benefits. That's really not too hard, especially when you consider that you could consume that in two large portions just twice a week...
So many super foods are expensive or difficult to source. With this one, there really is no excuse... Get munching!
by Kath Webb
by Laura Briggs
by Kath Webb
by Kath Webb
by Jessica Ambrose