‘Original’ superfood fights cancer and obesity

Trying to eat healthy? Then you’re probably feeling bombarded by information about fad diets, exotic superfoods and conflicting advice about what’s best for your body. It’s confusing to say the least.

But in the world of healthy eating, one piece of advice will never change….

You should eat your broccoli.

You’ve probably heard your mom utter those words many times before. That’s because broccoli’s been a proven health food for so long, you could say it’s the “original” superfood.

But being a long-time health food is a double-edge sword for broccoli. Sure, it’s considered a safe and classic choice if you want to eat healthy. But it’s also been overshadowed by new and exciting trendy superfoods — like kale, quinoa, goji and chia.

It’s okay to embrace these new trends. But I’m here to remind you why you should never forget about your old childhood friend (or foe) — the original superfood — broccoli….

Broccoli’s benefits get better and better

Researchers recently uncovered two new compelling reasons to keep broccoli at the front of your mind — and the front of your plate.

The latest study from researchers at Oregon State University found that an active compound in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables — sulforaphane — works in your body on a genetic level to prevent cancer.

More specifically, this highly potent anti-cancer compound inhibits the expression of a type of DNA in your body known as long, non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs).

Researchers believe these lncRNAs play a role in triggering cancer and helping it spread. So, if sulforaphane can inhibit this type of DNA, it can also help prevent or even treat cancer.

But the cancer-fighting power of sulforaphane is just one benefit the original superfood has to offer you. There are plenty more health benefits where that came from — including the latest discovery from researchers at Kanazawa University…

These researchers found that the sulforaphane in broccoli fights more than cancer… it fights obesity too.

When they gave sulforaphane to mice eating a junk-food diet, they found that it slowed their rate of weight gain by 15 percent, reduced their visceral fat (the kind that surrounds your organs and increases your risk of disease) by 20 percent, got rid of bad bacteria in their guts, lowered their blood sugar and improved their liver health.

Once again, sulforaphane did all of these things by impacting mice on the genetic level. In this case, it impacted genes related to oxidation and detoxification. So, it boosted the mice’s ability to detoxify the poor diet they were eating and counteracted its negative effect on their health.

Bringing broccoli back

These are just a few of the potential benefits you’ll get from bringing more broccoli into your diet. Decades of research has shown that broccoli can also:

  • Lower your risk for several types of cancer, including lung, colon and breast cancer.
  • Improve your bone health.
  • Lower your risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and gastrointestinal disease.

And you may have heard recently that broccoli’s a veritable fountain of youth too. Just one more reason to forgo fads in favor of some good old fashioned dietary advice from mom.

But maybe the idea of eating more broccoli bores you. If it does, you should experiment with ways to make it more enticing and tasty, like this broccoli and horseradish sauce recipe or this superfood detox salad recipe from my colleague Kelley Martin. The detox salad recipe contains broccoli sprouts, which actually contain more sulforaphane than full-grown broccoli florets.

Give these recipes a try and you’ll not only experience better health, you’ll make your mom proud.

  1. “Dietary anti-cancer compound may work by influence on cellular genetics.” MedicalXpress. https://medicalxpress.com. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  2. Laura M. Beaver, et al. “Long noncoding RNAs and sulforaphane: a target for chemoprevention and suppression of prostate cancer.” The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2017.
  3. “Sulforaphane, a phytochemical in broccoli sprouts, ameliorates obesity.” MedicalXpress. https://medicalxpress.com. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  4. Nagata, et al. “Glucoraphanin Ameliorates Obesity and Insulin Resistance Through Adipose Tissue Browning and Reduction of Metabolic Endotoxemia in Mice.” Diabetes, 2017.
  5. “Broccoli: Health Benefits, Nutritional Information.” MedicalNewsToday. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.