Broccoli Helps Fight Respiratory Ailments

Eating broccoli naturally triggers an antioxidant response in the body that helps protect against certain respiratory conditions, according to a recently published study.

Broccoli is a type of cruciferous vegetable, and contains the chemical sulforaphane. It was found by researchers that the high sulforaphane content in broccoli helps trigger the antioxidant enzymes GSTP1and NQO1, among others, which help eliminate free radicals, most notably within the respiratory system. Free radicals can cause tissue damage and inflammation, within both the respiratory and circulatory systems, which increases risk for conditions such as asthma and allergic rhinitis, as well as cardiovascular disease. Free radicals can enter the respiratory system in many ways, but most identifiably through smoking and air pollution.

Therefore, eating broccoli might help battle or protect against asthma and allergic rhinitis, a novel natural alternative to these prevalent problems. It’s also believed by the current researchers, that other cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower, rutabaga, radish, collard greens, and others, could have similar helpful benefits, though broccoli is known to have the highest content of sulforaphane. Some cruciferous vegetables have also been shown, in past research, to help protect again prostate cancer, and are great natural sources for vitamin C.

The current research was performed for three days on 65 individuals, who were either fed broccoli (sulforaphane) or alfalfa sprouts (no sulforaphane). When fed in excess of 100 grams of broccolli, the results were clear. Says lead researcher Dr. Marc Riedl, “we found a two- to three-fold increase in antioxidant enzymes in the nasal airway cells of study participants who had eaten a preparation of broccoli sprouts. A major advantage of sulforaphane is that it appears to increase a broad array of antioxidant enzymes, which may help the compound’s effectiveness in blocking the harmful effects of air pollution.”

Broccoli, being a widely available and affordable food, makes this study potentially profound and immediately applicable for those people at risk for, or currently suffering from, respiratory conditions. Further research must be conducted to see exactly which respiratory ailments can benefit from specific amounts of broccoli, or other sulforaphane sources, but the above conclusions suggest that eating broccoli will prove to be generally beneficial for respiratory ailments. Dr. Riedl goes on to stress the importance and potential of his study: “This is one of the first studies showing that broccoli sprouts — a readily available food source — offered potent biologic effects in stimulating an antioxidant response in humans… This strategy may offer protection against inflammatory processes and could lead to potential treatments for a variety of respiratory conditions.”

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Riedl, Marc. Champeu, Rachel. Clinical Immunology news release. March 2009.