Powerful natural medicine in broccoli sprouts found to prevent cancer and protect the brain from stroke damage

A phytochemical found in broccoli was found to dramatically minimize the most damaging effects of a stroke. Researchers found that the molecule sulforaphane, which is naturally abundant in the vegetable, acts as a protective enzyme in the brain. Scientists from the King’s College London further noted the “scavenger-like” properties of sulforaphane, particularly in its usefulness in removing dangerous free radicals. The team conducted the study funded by the British Heart Foundation to find new and better treatment options for damages caused by strokes.

These findings are being hailed as a major breakthrough. The isolation of this compound could potentially mean that thousands of at-risk individuals could take a simple pill to reduce their risk of a stroke, or for those who have already had one, minimize damage. Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the King’s College, said that sulforaphane reduces the severity of stroke in mice. “In the future we could see people taking a pill every day to prevent a stroke’s debilitating effects, much in the same way people currently take a statin to ward off a heart attack,” he said.

Why are we still surprised?

These “new” findings just validate what many wellness and health experts have been proclaiming for years: the healthiest foods are sometimes the most “common” kitchen staples. Items that we purchase on a regular basis are now being studied and found to contain numerous health benefits. For this season’s superstar, let’s pass the laurel wreath to broccoli. Nutritionists state that one serving of broccoli makes for 73 percent of our daily recommended vitamin C intake, and can significantly reduce the risk of different types of cancer while promoting brain health.

A 2004 review in Journal of Neurophysiology concluded that broccoli is an excellent source of choline, which is essential for brain development since it repaired and maintained cell membranes. Pregnant women who regularly took choline positively influenced the neural and cognitive development of their babies during gestation. Furthermore, choline was shown to “enhance working memory and hippocampal long-term potentiation [the strengthening of synapses in the brain] in adult offspring.”

Older adults benefit from the vegetable as well. One study in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience saw that broccoli reduced the long-term risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The same journal published yet another study a few years later which concluded the potential of broccoli to ward off neurodegenerative diseases. The researchers of this review stated, “cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli, are another group of vegetables rich in antioxidants with neuroprotective capacity.”

Other health advantages

Broccoli was also noted to lessen the chances of men developing prostate cancer. A four-year study on 29,000 men found that men who followed a diet rich in cauliflower and broccoli cut their risk of developing prostate cancer by 52 percent. This same study noted that other fruits and vegetables did not exhibit the same impact.

Eating broccoli can aid in weight loss as well. A 2015 study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan Public School of Public Health found that more than other vegetables and fruits, non-starchy items like cauliflower, broccoli, and string beans helped with weight maintenance the best. The team hypothesized that this may be due to non-starchy foods having lower glycemic levels, which produced smaller and fewer blood sugar spikes. “Clinical trial evidence suggests that low-glycemic-index (GI) diets may increase resting energy expenditure, promoting weight maintenance,” they concluded.

Nutritionists may be touting broccoli as the “new kale,” but really, considering it’s less expensive and more accessible, it should be considered as the oldie-but-goodie food treat.

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