By Betty Murray
A superfood is a food that contains nutrients known to provide health benefits, including enhance longevity and is backed by scientific studies. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains vitamins A, B, C and K, as well as potassium, zinc and fiber and has long been considered a superfood for it’s low-calorie, nutrient-rich qualities.
Researchers have recently discovered another health benefit of broccoli — sulfur compounds found in broccoli (as well as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage) may help individuals with arthritis by reducing inflammation in the joints. Inflammation is the root cause of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage in the joints gradually wears away under inflammation.
The study, which was published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism found that mice who ate a diet high in the sulfur compound, sulforaphane, had significantly less cartilage damage and signs of osteoarthritis than the mice who did not eat the sulfur compound. Researchers suspect that sulforaphane might block enzymes that cause inflammation in the cartilage.
Understanding the exact effect foods like broccoli can have on joint diseases like arthritis will eventually help develop more effective treatments for arthritis, and may even help prevent people from getting arthritis in the first place.
The same sulfur compound researchers suspect may help reduce inflammation has also been shown to filter out carcinogens, thus preventing tumor growth.
In addition to these benefits, a broccoli-rich diet can lower risk of other diseases and health conditions like obesity, high cholesterol, and vitamin D deficiency. (Vitamins A and K are needed to keep levels of vitamin D in check; broccoli is a rich source of both vitamins A and K.)
Don’t care for broccoli? Keep in mind that there are other ways to prepare broccoli other than steaming it. Try roasting it with your favorite seasonings and a touch of olive oil, or mixing it in with a casserole or other dish.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.