B+ for Broccoli – Especially the Sprouts

March 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health

I find it sad that a vegetable I really struggle to eat is being shown in study after study to help prevent and treat cancer.   However I will persevere, particularly after a new study by the University of Illinois says that combining broccoli with broccoli sprouts nearly doubles the cruciferous vegetable’s anti-cancer effects.
Elizabeth Jeffery, a Professor of Nutrition who worked on the study explained that broccoli, prepared correctly, is an extremely potent cancer-fighting agent and that three to five servings a week are enough to have an effect.   As I average a serving probably every 3-5 months I can see I have a long way to go, but to get broccoli’s anti-cancer benefits, the enzyme myrosinase has to be present.   If it’s not there, sulforaphane the cancer-preventive and anti-inflammatory component, doesn’t form, so how do you get this benefit?
Previous research has found that overcooking broccoli results in the elimination of up to 90 percent of the vegetable’s anti-cancer compounds – besides making it taste pretty grim in my view.  The ideal cooking method is to gently steam it, and not in a microwave, as this can potentially unlock more of its anti-cancer compounds than are present when eating the vegetable raw.   As my preferred method is to lightly stir fry, I can see I shall have to rethink.
Sprouts are known to have powerful health benefits as they are eaten raw and lose none of their nutrients and the researchers compared blood levels of sulforaphane among a group of men who ate meals containing either broccoli sprouts alone, broccoli powder alone, or both combined.   They found that in just three hours after finishing their meals, participants who ate both the powder and the sprouts had nearly twice as much of the anti-cancer substance in their systems than the two other groups did.
Leads me to wonder why they didn’t include the vegetable itself – but the idea of broccoli powder certainly interests me!  If you want to increase the benefits of broccoli and its sprouts even further then try combining other sulforaphane-rich foods like mustard, radishes, arugula, and wasabi, with them.
If you do take a broccoli supplement then it will increase the benefits even further. But she warns that taking certain broccoli supplements in lieu of actual broccoli and broccoli sprouts may not work, as some broccoli supplements do not contain the vital enzyme myrosinase that produces sulforaphane. One that does, along with other sprouts is Broccoforte and you can find information on that at www.water-for-health.co.uk

How Brassicas Can Help IBS

July 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Health

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is becoming more common with an increasing number of people visiting their doctor for help with the various symptoms that can produce.

There are a number of self-help measures that can help alleviate some of the distressing effects of IBS, particularly learning to manage stress. Keeping an eye on the diet is also important in order to avoid things that can cause a flare up but now it seems that every day vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli could play an important role in alleviating signs of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel condition.

This new research is the work of a South Dakota State University scientist, associate professor Moul Dey of their Department of Health and Nutritional Sciences, and she has shown that an extract made from a food plant in the Brassica family was effective and the research will continue to test for its potential use against colon cancer. This disease is highly preventable, yet colon cancer has one of the highest death rates among all cancers due to typical late diagnosis.

There is an established link between ulcerative colitis and colon cancer and people who have this condition are at significantly higher risk to have colon cancer. Dey and her team will carry out research over the next two and a half years and she is certainly interested in plant medicine as so far she has screened nearly 3,000 plant extracts for potential anti-inflammatory activity so far.

A plant-derived compound called Phenethylisothiocyanate is what has been shown to have potential anti-inflammatory activities and is found in the Brassica family which includes cabbage, cauliflower, watercress and broccoli. Even more reason for your five a day to include at least a couple of these valuable ‘green’s’.

Broccoli juice as sunscreen?

May 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Skincare

As my friends will testify, vegetables and I are not on very intimate terms and broccoli is something I avoid at all costs. But I may change my mind because of it’s newly discovered potential as a sunscreen. Apparently an extract made from broccoli boosts the body’s natural ability to defend against the sun’s ultraviolet rays that cause skin cancer. According to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the USA, an extract of broccoli sprouts contains high levels of sulforaphane and gives substantial protection. Co-leader of the study, Paul Talalay, first discovered in 1992 that broccoli is rich in a naturally occurring plant compound called sulforaphane. While all cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mustard, turnip, radish and watercress) contain it to a certain degree, the concentration is highest in three-day-old sprouts of the broccoli plant.

Sulforaphane has the effect of activating cells’ production of what are known as “phase 2 enzymes.” One such enzyme, glutathione S-transferase, has been shown to neutralize the DNA-damaging compounds produced by the skin produces when struck by ultraviolet radiation. It also appears to reduce inflammation, which can cause precancerous growths to transform into full-blown cancerous tumors. Only a very small (6 person) trial has been done on this but they are enthusiastic about developing a new sunscreen product as many of the commercial products contain chemicals that are themselves potentially carcinogenic. However, unless they can get broccoli juice to smell more pleasant (I may not eat many vegetables but I do juice them) it will be no competition to my preferred choice which is the all-natural organic sun range from Annemarie Borlind.

Broccoli can relieve inherited skin condition

Epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS) comprises a group of inherited disorders in which the skin blisters extremely easily and can be extremely painful to the sufferer. The problem lies in the genes that hold the instructions necessary for production of certain proteins in the top layer of skin. These instructions have a minor fault, rather like a typing error, with the result that the proteins are incorrectly formed, and unable to fulfil their role as scaffolding for the topmost layer of skin. The result is that the top layer of skin does not ‘stick’ securely to the layer beneath it, and where the two layers separate a blister develops.

Even the mildest form of EBS can leads to blistering of the hands and feet and the condition is more common than you might think. If only one of the two parents has the condition then there is a 1 in 2 chance it will be passed on their children.It may be obvious from birth, or develop during the first few weeks of life. Sites of blistering respond to areas where friction is caused by clothing and frequently appear around the edges of the nappy, but may not be noticed until the child begins walking, when foot blisters start to appear. There is currently no effective treatment that can cure it, though a number of measures can be taken to relieve the symptoms. However, a new study that was reported at the American Society for Cell Biology 47th Annual Meeting shows that eating broccoli could be of great benefit. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, found that the natural compound sulforaphane, which is present in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, can help treat this disorder. Sulforaphane has already been lauded for its cancer-fighting powers and so the researchers carried ouit an experiment where they found that mice with EBS who were exposed to sulforaphane, had significantly reduced skin blistering. Patient trials have not yet been conducted, but in the meantime anyone suffering from this condition could benefit from eating broccoli at least 2-3 times a week.

Tangerines may tackle cancer

One of the delights of the winter period for me as a child was the appearance of tangerines. Oranges were just too much trouble to tackle, but those small, sweet tangerines were just right for small fingers. Now it appears that new research by the Leicester School of Pharmacy has revealed that tangerine peel can kill certain human cancer cells. They found that salvestrol, which is a chemical produced by plants to repel attackers such as insects or fungi, was also able to kill cancer cells. Salvestrol is converted into a toxic compound by a particular enzyme which is found in much higher levels in cancer cells. It was found to be 20 times more toxic to cancer cells than to healthy cells. Eating tangerine peel doesn’t seem like much of an appetiser, but if you want to protect against cancer than salvestrol is found in other fruit and vegetables including those other winter favourites broccoli and Brussels sprouts.