Broccoli haters, take note: the humble cruciferous vegetable may prove a potent weapon in the fight against painful osteoarthritis, UK researchers suspect.
A compound known as sulforaphane that's found in large quantities in broccoli appears to slow down the destruction of joint cartilage, associated with painful osteoarthritis, a press release from the University of East Anglia notes.
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Studies found that the sulforaphane blocks enzymes that cause chronic arthritic joint destruction, as they block a molecule that causes joint inflammation.
"The results from this study are very promising. We have shown that this works in the three laboratory models we have tried, in cartilage cells, tissue and mice," said Ian Clark, professor of musculoskeletal biology at the Norwich university, to the Guardian.
"We now want to show this works in humans. It would be very powerful if we could. As well as treating those who already have the condition, you need to be able to tell healthy people how to protect their joints into the future," he added.
It's estimated that 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation, a painful condition where joint cartilage breaks down and allows bones to rub against one another. It is still unknown what causes this painful chronic disease, and no cure yet exists.
Although many people find broccoli singularly objectionable, the green vegetable is a decidedly man-made invention, thought to have been selectively bred into existence in the Mediterranean around the 6th century BCE.
Broccoli, cultivated widely in Europe since 1500, did not make an appearance in the US until the 1920s, when it was often referred to (inaccurately) as "Italian asparagus."
It's worth noting that broccoli — which can indeed be prepared in many delicious ways — is considered by many to be a highly nutrient-dense "superfood," with potential cancer-fighting qualities as well.