The Extraordinary Health Effects of Broccoli

Indeed, to cause cancer, carcinogens must bind to the cell’s genetic material (DNA) and induce damage that will ultimately lead to the development of cancer. Certain molecules present in vegetables of the cabbage family prevent this phenomenon by stimulating the activity of our defense systems against these toxic aggressors, which causes an increase in their elimination from the body and the reduction by the same of their carcinogenic potential. This effect is extremely important because several cancers are directly caused by deficits in the activity of these detoxification systems: a regular intake of cruciferous vegetables therefore makes it possible to increase the performance of these systems.

Protection against heart disease

This protective effect is well illustrated by the results of studies which show spectacular reductions (more than half) in the risk of developing certain types of cancer, in particular those of the bladder and the prostate. Cruciferous vegetables should therefore be considered first-line defense weapons that prevent carcinogens from causing cell damage that leads to the development of cancers. In addition to its well-documented anti-cancer effects, studies have also shown a role for broccoli in preventing heart disease.

A large epidemiological study of 35,000 American women showed that broccoli consumption was associated with a marked reduction in the risk of heart disease. These results are in agreement with those of a pilot study which showed that the consumption of young broccoli shoots (100 g per day, for a week) caused a reduction in LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) as well as an increase in cholesterol. -HDL (good cholesterol), two indicators of a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Another recent study suggests that this protective role of broccoli is linked to its ability to improve muscle function of the heart as well as to protect it from damage caused by free radicals.

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Thus, the researchers observed that the hearts of animals that regularly ate broccoli resisted a momentary lack of oxygen much better (as occurs during a myocardial infarction). Subsequent molecular analysis revealed that this protective effect was linked to the ability of molecules present in broccoli to increase levels of thioredoxins, a family of proteins that play an important role in neutralizing free radicals inside cells. . Since other members of the cabbage family also have molecules similar to those found in broccoli, these results suggest that the consumption of cruciferous vegetables in general is extremely positive for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Eat them as often as possible and how to prepare them

As with all protective foods, eating cruciferous vegetables regularly is key to maximizing protection against chronic disease. Fortunately for us, the very wide variety of cruciferous vegetables that currently exist on the market allows us to take full advantage of the beneficial properties of these foods without falling into monotony.

Consuming at least three servings of these vegetables per week is one of the changes in habits that can have the greatest impact on the risk of being affected by cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, it should be remembered that the molecules of crucifers are sensitive to cooking and that cooking these vegetables in plenty of water or for too long a period should be avoided as much as possible. Steaming broccoli, Brussels sprouts or even cauliflower using a simple daisy will preserve the majority of the anti-cancer molecules of these vegetables.

Similarly, wok cooking several crucifers such as headed cabbage and Chinese cabbage is a simple (and delicious!) way to maximize the preventive effects of these vegetables.


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Michaud et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of bladder cancer in a male prospective cohort.J Natl Cancer Inst; 91: 605-613

Yochum et al. Am. Prospective study of fruit and vegetable intake and risk of prostate cancer.J. Epidemiol. ; 149:943-949.

Murashima et al Phase 1 study of multiple biomarkers for metabolism and oxidative stress after one-week intake of broccoli sprouts. Biofactors; 22: 271-275.

Mukherjee et al. J. Agric. Food Chem. Broccoli: A Unique Vegetable That Protects Mammalian Hearts through the Redox Cycling of the Thioredoxin Superfamily; 56: 609-617.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace medical advice. []

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