Add Some Broccoli, Protect Your Lungs

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A new study has found a link between eating broccoli and protecting the lungs from damage.

Researchers at the John Hopkins School of Medicine have discovered that a substance called “sulforaphane” in broccoli increases the activity of a very important gene when it comes to lung health. When toxins build up in your lungs, this gene — called “NRF2” -? is responsible for turning on the mechanisms that can remove these toxins.

For those who are already suffering from lung damage, such as smokers who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cells in the lungs are insufficiently protected by NRF2. But by eating broccoli, the activity of NRF2 can be increased, helping to remove pollutants and toxins.

Of course, broccoli has many more health benefits besides being able to activate NRF2. When it comes to basic nutrients, broccoli is full of them. Ounce for ounce, broccoli has more vitamin C than an orange and just as much calcium as a glass of milk. One medium spear of the vegetable has three times more fiber than a slice of wheat bran bread. Broccoli is also one of the best sources of vitamin A when it comes to veggies.

You might already know about the potent potential cancer-fighting power of broccoli. Not only does broccoli contain sulforaphane, it also contains a substance called “isothiocyanates.” Isothiocyanates are chemicals that have been shown to stimulate the body’s production of its own cancer-fighting enzymes. These enzymes can neutralize potential cancer-causing substances before they have a chance to damage the DNA of healthy cells.

Another research team at John Hopkins School of Medicine wanted to test broccoli’s cancer-fighting power. The research team fed rats servings of the vegetable for a few days and then exposed them to a potent carcinogen known to trigger a form of breast cancer in the animals. Broccoli-munching rats were half as likely to develop tumors as animals on normal feed. “Even those rats that did develop cancer ended up with fewer and smaller tumors, which is an important advantage in itself,” said lead researcher, Dr. Paul Talalay.

Not fond of broccoli? Not to worry — if you don’t like broccoli, try broccoli sprouts. Broccoli sprouts are the week-old seedlings of the mature plant. It turns out that these sprouts are exceptionally rich in sulforaphane — 10 to 100 times as rich as broccoli itself. It’s a little more of a challenge to find broccoli sprouts, but many grocery stores do carry them. You can add the sprouts to sandwiches and salads.

Don’t forget to increase your intake of other cruciferous vegetables too, such as cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy.

Also read: Broccoli vs. Cauliflower: Which Is Healthier?