Eating 'super broccoli', developed by Norwich Research Park scientists, three times a week can help to 're-tune' the metabolism and this could protect against age-related diseases such as obesity, Type II diabetes and cancer, according to new research.
The super broccoli known as Beneforté, was developed by scientists at John Innes Centre and Institute of Food Research (IFR) using conventional breeding techniques after a wild broccoli variety was discovered with naturally raised levels of a beneficial nutrient called Glucoraphanin.
Glucoraphanin is converted in the gut into the bioactive compound sulforaphane, which circulates in the blood stream. Evidence has indicated that sulforaphane reduces uncontrolled cell division associated with early cancers and activates the body's own antioxidant defences, which improves how our cellular metabolism works.
The new research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, provides the first evidence from human studies of the impact of glucoraphanin consumption on metabolism. 48 volunteers were divided into three groups the first ate 400g a week of Beneforté broccoli, the second same amount of ordinary broccoli and the third ate no broccoli.
An analysis of blood samples before and after the trial showed that people who ate Beneforté broccoli had improved metabolism. High glucoraphanin intake was shown to correct an imbalance between energy generation and synthesis of fatty acids and other metabolites. These essential processes are required for maintaining good health and can become disrupted with age.
Professor Richard Mithen from IFR, based on the Norwich Research Park, says the research is exciting as for the first time it has been possible to identify the metabolic changes in humans.
"It has been known for some time that diets rich in broccoli can help prevent heart attacks and strokes and reduce the risk of aggressive cancers, however the mechanism for this was not understood. This first human trial shows that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables effectively 're-tunes' our metabolism by rebalancing key reactions in the body - anapleurosis and catapleurosis - that are disrupted with age."
Broccoli is even more beneficial when cooked and to give some recipe ideas, as well as to explain the bioscience behind Beneforté, the IFR is to launch a new website www.superbroccoli.info.