Broccoli Crowns - ©

Now We Know Why Broccoli Is A Super Food

Broccoli is a proven Super Food. But how it works its magic was a mystery until a recent study from Penn State uncovered a group of molecules that can protect the small intestine, warding off a whole slew of diseases…

Cheesy Broccoli Baked Potato - © Wendy's IndonesiaClassic Broccoli: With a rich, creamy a Cheddar Cheese sauce…

“We all know that broccoli is good for us, but why? What happens in the body when we eat broccoli?” Gary Perdew, H. Thomas and Dorothy Willits, Hallowell Chair in Agricultural Sciences at Penn State, asked. “Our research is helping to uncover the mechanisms for how broccoli and other foods benefit health in mice and likely humans, as well. It provides strong evidence that cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts should be part of a normal healthy diet.”

The team wanted to confirm their hunch that certain molecules plentiful in Broccoli, called aryl hydrocarbon receptor ligands, bind to the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), which is a type of protein called a transcription factor. This binding, they found, initiates a variety of activities that enhanced the functions of intestinal cells.

What they did

To conduct their study, the researchers fed an experimental group of mice a diet containing 15 per cent broccoli – equivalent to about 3.5 cups per day for humans – and fed a control group of mice a typical lab diet that did not contain broccoli. They then analyzed the animals’ tissues to determine the extent to which AHR was activated, as well as the quantities of various cell types and mucus concentrations, among other factors, in the two groups.

What they found

According to an abstract of the study report: “The gut health of the mice that were not fed broccoli was compromised in a variety of ways that are known to be associated with disease,” said Perdew. “Our research suggests that broccoli and likely other foods can be used as natural sources of AHR ligands, and that diets rich in these ligands contribute to resilience of the small intestine.”

The takeaway

Previous research has shown that increased consumption of the cruciferous vegetable decreases incidence of cancer and type 2 diabetes. The current study found that broccoli contains certain molecules that bind to a receptor within mice and help to protect the lining of the small intestine, thereby inhibiting the development of disease. The findings lend support to the idea that broccoli truly is a ‘superfood.’

My take

Even if broccoli has been proven a true superfood, I want to know if its beneficial effects can enhancd further with the addition of a classic, creamy Cheddar Cheese sauce…

~ Maggie J.