More than eight million people suffer from osteoarthritis. This condition often affects the hands, knees, spine or hips but can crop up in other areas of the body as well. Osteoarthritis is painful and can eventually seriously hinder a person’s ability to keep mobile and active.
So how can broccoli help prevent such a prevalent and worrisome disease?
According to British researchers, a compound called glucoraphanin found in the vegetable helps to prevent damage to cartilage. It does this by blocking an enzyme implicated in the destruction of cartilage cells.
Along with glucoraphanin, broccoli also contains gluconasturtiin, and glucobrassicin. These three phytonutrients are combined in a unique way in broccoli. They have been singled out in the past by researchers who discovered the trio’s ability to help rid the body of contaminants. Glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin, and glucobrassicin each have a distinct role to play in activating, neutralizing, and eliminating toxins. And now, researchers have singled out glucoraphanin for its ability to aid in the fight against arthritis.
The British research team made their discovery about glucoraphanin when they gave broccoli to mice and analyzed the results. The researchers are in the process of testing a broccoli which has been bred to be especially high in the arthritis-fighting compound. This time, 20 arthritis patients are on-board to try out the broccoli therapy.
The research team will have the 20 volunteers—who are all slated to have knee surgery—eat the broccoli diet for two weeks prior to being admitted to hospital. The volunteers won’t have to eat a mountain of broccoli—just 100 grams every day for a two week period. One hundred grams is only about a handful—an amount that anyone could consume in a meal as part of a normal, healthy diet.
The researchers don’t think the two-week broccoli diet will be long enough to usher in any big changes, but they do hope they will find evidence that the vegetable has benefitted the osteoarthritic patients. They aren’t expecting that broccoli can repair or reverse arthritis.
They just want to look for proof that sulforaphane—a compound created when glucoraphanin is processed inside the digestive system—has traveled to the knee joints and is triggering beneficial changes to cartilage cells. The researchers will compare their results with 20 knee replacement patients not taking the broccoli diet.
Along with helping in the fight against osteoarthritis, broccoli could help shore up your vitamin D stores—a valuable asset for those living in northern climates. For those who supplement with vitamin D, vitamin A and K are needed to keep vitamin D metabolism in balance. Broccoli is very high in both these vitamins. Broccoli is also high in a flavonoid called kaempferol. Kaempferol could help to reduce the inflammation associated with an allergic response.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Roberts, M., “Broccoli slows arthritis, researchers think,” BBC News web site, Aug. 27, 2013; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23847632, last accessed Sept. 1, 2013.
Calderon-Montano, J.M., et al., “A review on the dietary flavonoid kaempferol,” Mini Rev Med Chem. Apr. 2011; 11(4): 298-344.