A new study conducted by scientists from China and the USA has demonstrated that regular consumption of broccoli sprouts results in rapid and significant detoxification from inhaled air pollutants. Such a solution offers yet another scientific justification for why individuals should seek to increase their consumption of green leafy vegetables—particularly with respects to urbanites living in densely populated and heavily trafficked areas.
Air pollution is a global health problem that has only worsened as yet more and more of the world industrializes. On top of that, over half of the world’s people now live in cities, and experts predict this proportion will only increase. Such urban environments produce high quantities of pollutants that can pose substantial health risks to residents. Megacities in particular (those with over 10 million people) can create significant amounts of air pollution that may affect the surrounding area as far as 200 kilometers away.
Many different kinds of air pollutants are capable of negatively impacting human health. Combustion can produce ammonium sulfates, nitrates, acrolein and benzene. Such compounds can irritate the throat and lungs, increase an individual’s risk of chronic conditions such as asthma, and lead to the development of some kinds of cancer. Some types of pollutants such as mercury and lead are incorporated into the different tissues of the body and accumulate there over the course of a lifetime. Others pollutants such as arsenic are excreted in a person’s urine in the subsequent days after exposure.
Green vegetables, specifically cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, and bok choy have all been demonstrated to help facilitate the detoxification of the human body from air pollutants. Of these, broccoli sprouts are lauded as being exceptionally healthy. The immature broccoli sprouts are claimed to have ten to 100 times the amount of phytonutrients of mature broccoli heads. Like other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli sprouts contain high levels of glucoraphanin, a precursor to sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a phytochemical with astounding health benefits such as preventing cancer, minimize the growth and spread of existing cancer, and reducing cholesterol. In addition sulforaphane can stimulate the activation of other enzymes that act to sequester and metabolize pollutants.
To study the detoxifying properties of broccoli sprouts, researchers studied 300 Chinese men and women from Qidong in the Yangtze River delta region of China. Such research is particularly relevant to Chinese citizens from this area. As the world’s largest emitter of anthropogenic air pollution, China is quite concerned about the deleterious health effects air pollution has on its people. Even more specifically, the Yangtze River delta region is the fastest growing economic development center in China.
For 12 days participants were asked to regularly consume either a beverage containing broccoli sprout powder or a control beverage containing pineapple and lime juice. Subsequent analysis of the subject’s urine revealed that those that had taken the broccoli sprouts drink excreted 61 percent more benzene. They also demonstrated increasingly rapid levels of acrolein excretion. As researchers noted in the article they published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, such results are very exciting because of how they empower an individual to take responsibility for their own health. Especially for poor urbanites that live in congested cities, simply making informed dietary choices can be an excellent way to protect one’s health.
By Sarah Takushi