It is not a very common thing to love broccoli, and this is completely wrong! A new study conducted in England suggests that broccoli might be very good at fighting osteoarthritis or slowing it down. Sulforaphane, a magic compound abundantly present in broccoli, makes this vegetable truly miraculous. Besides preventing some types of cancer, it also reduces cartilage damage in joints, according to a new research – good news for people suffering from arthritis – a disease that has affected humankind since prehistoric age.
Broccoli is probably one of the most studied vegetables and one of the healthiest as well. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, beta carotene, folate, calcium, iron, potassium. It is low in calories, high in fiber and even has some protein. New studies conducted in the University of East Anglia (UEA) show that broccoli might be very good for people suffering from one of the major forms of arthritis – osteoarthritis. These studies may be a breakthrough in curing the disease affecting up to 27 million of American adults according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease gradually damaging joint cartilage. When the cartilage protecting the ends of the bones wears away, they start rubbing against each other causing inflammation and pain in joints. Osteoarthritis mostly affects our weight bearing joints like knees, hips and back, but may be also seen in hands and knuckles.
Lab tests conducted in the UEA showed that magical sulforaphane which is abundantly presented in broccoli intercepted a molecule that causes inflammation in joints blocking cartilage-destroying enzymes in cells and tissues. They also found that mice living on a sulforaphane rich diet suffered less cartilage damage and arthritis than those who were fed usual food.
What about people?
Until recently researchers did not have any scientific proof that diet may play a significant role in treating osteoarthritis. So if the results of the new study are confirmed on people it will be a real breakthrough.
The UEA team started human trials asking a group of patients scheduled for the knee surgery to take 100 gram of super broccoli – a cross of regular broccoli and wild Sicilian relative – every day for two weeks. During the surgery doctors will treat knees affected by arthritis with their usual methods. Samples of extracted tissues will be then meticulously investigated and compared with the tissues taken from patients who were not eating broccoli. Of course, two weeks of broccoli dieting is not enough to make significant changes, but if researchers find any sign of improvement it will be a victory, opening the way to major studies on the subject.
Major studies, if conducted, might have a very big impact on treating the disease known in nature since the beginning of time. According to the archaeologists, even some dinosaurs might have had it millions of year ago. Can you imagine? Bone defects found on Neanderthals skeletons also suggest they suffered the disease. They probably did not eat broccoli.
Even if human studies are not completed yet, it is safer to start eating broccoli right now. There is no harm in it anyway. It works for everybody. Obesity, for example, is one of the major factors increasing you chances of developing osteoarthritis, adding to weight and straining the knees and hips. Broccoli might help with that, as well as with other problems. Other studies, for example, showed that people who eat broccoli have a lower risk of developing different types of cancer, thanks to the same sulforaphane. And though you can find this magical compound in cabbage, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts, it is extremely abundant in broccoli, especially in the sprouts.
So why not start today? Eat this miraculous vegetable in any way you like. Eat it raw, cooked, or steamed. While some say frozen broccoli is as healthy as fresh, young bright green florets have more nutrients than those turning yellow. One cup of cooked broccoli provides you with 100 percent of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C and lots of sulforaphane that might help you fight osteoarthritis as the new research suggests. What have you got to lose?
By Alsu Salakhutdinov