Broccoli May Be Hope for Chronic Degenerative Diseases


February 1, 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Senior Health Issues



In addition to telling you to eat your spinach so you can grow-up to be big and strong like Popeye, your mother probably also told you to eat your vegetables, especially your broccoli. Today, researchers are proving that your mother probably was giving you better advice than she realized.

As it turns out, there is a very potent chemical compound in broccoli that could help to transform the health of seniors as they grow old. This compound is also found in many other cruciferous vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, and kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage and turnips. The compound is called sulforaphane.

Sulforaphane, as researchers are finding out, appears to have tremendous potential for turning around some of the diseases that plague us as we grow old. This single substance may be able to help prevent and even reverse such debilitating conditions as cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerotic (the buildup of plaques in arterial walls), asthma, allergic rhinitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other breathing disorders.

It’s difficult to believe that something as simple as Broccoli, may be the answer to so many of our age related conditions. While there is still much research to be performed, the preliminary results are very promising. Much of the recent research on the positive effects of sulforaphane has centered on lab animals, but is actually progressing to human trials.

While it is difficult to get the quantity of Sulforaphane needed by simply eating broccoli to match the quantities used in the research studies, one type of sprout contains more Sulforaphane than any other vegetable. Broccoli sprouts, contain between 30 to 50 times the sulforaphane found in broccoli or any other vegetable. On top of this, broccoli sprouts contain an important sugar molecule, sulforaphane glucosinolate that when chewed and combined with the plant’s own enzyme, myrosinase, has the ability to release sulforaphane into the cells of the body, where it is needed to help work its magic.

As an example of some of the promising research, in the May 1, 2010, edition of the journal of Clinical Cancer Research, a team of researchers at the University of Michigan worked with mice with breast cancer. The researchers injected the mice with differing concentrations of sulforaphane. To their surprise, there was a significantly reduction in the number of cancer stem cells in the sulforaphane administered rats. Cancer stem cells are thought to be the generator for cancer cells in the body, and by killing the stem cells, you kill the engine that grows the cancer. An added benefit here is that sulforaphane appeared to leave ordinary healthy cells unharmed, while preventing the breast cancer cells in mice from generating new tumors.

In the case of osteoarthritis, a debilitating and degenerative disease that effects over 30 million people in the U.S., there is currently no known cure, only management with pain killers. This degenerative condition gradually destroys cartilage in our joints as we get older. The slow and methodical destruction of our precious joint cartilage is the reason so many replacement surgeries for knees and hips are performed in the U.S. The hands, feet and spine, also suffer from this disabling disease, making it difficult to perform even the simplest of every day common tasks.

There is good news for osteoarthritis and even the rheumatoid arthritis suffers. A group of researchers at the Catholic University of Korea discovered that sulforaphane significantly inhibits the rheumatoid-T cells along with regulating the inflammatory response to arthritis. This combined anti-arthritic and immune regulation ability of sulforaphane suggest that compound may actually provide a possible treatment for rheumatoid arthritis beyond simply pain management someday.

In the case of atherosclerotic, or plaque build-up in the arteries, additional research with Sulforaphane using mice revealed some impressive results. Research detailed in a paper published by Zakkar, Mustaffa, et al., found that sulforaphane was able to essentially turn-on a protein called Nrf2. This protein helps protects against plaque accumulation in arteries. This protein is found in much less concentrations in the tight bends of arteries, the areas of the arteries that are highly susceptible to clogging. The thought here is that by making Nrf2 more prevalent in the body, it has a better chance of finding its way to these otherwise lacking areas.

While eating broccoli or cauliflower may not be enough to have a significant effect on degenerative diseases, broccoli sprouts appear to have the highest concentration of sulforaphane. There is a symbiotic combination of beneficial compounds and phytochemicals present in all of the cruciferous and other vegetables and fruits. Most nutritionists agree that a varied and balanced combination of fruits and vegetables are important for overall health.

Paul Talalay, M.D., J.J. Abel, Distinguished Service Professor of Pharmacology states the following: “Three-day-old broccoli sprouts consistently contain 20 to 50 times the amount of chemo protective compounds found in mature broccoli heads, and may offer a simple, dietary means of chemically reducing cancer risk.” Read More

These studies are encouraging yet preliminary. More research is on the way. But there are choices you can make now in eating better and including these important vegetables in your diet. Additionally, sulforaphane is available as a supplement from health food stores and online. But as always, you should consult your doctor or healthcare professional prior to changing your diet or adding any new supplement to your daily regimen.

Disclaimer: The suggestions above are only to be considered as general health concepts and are not to be considered as medical advice or a replacement for the advice of a personal physician. Before starting any program where a change in diet and exercise is undertaken, always consult with a physician first. Every individual and condition is different and specific medical conditions may prevent some individuals from embracing some of the practices detailed above. Senior Home Locators and its owners are not responsible for the accuracy of the content or the results of any use of the information contained in this posting.