Broccoli, Blood Pressure, and Cancer - Did you eat your broccoli today?

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • A few years back researchers conducting an animal study linked glucoraphanin, a compound present in broccoli sprouts, to reduced blood pressure risk, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.


    Researchers found broccoli sprouts to increase tissue antioxidant defense mechanisms, lower inflammatory response, and improve cardiovascular health. This was especially interesting since most research on broccoli has been in connection with anti-cancer properties.


    Well, I'm actually writing this article to share something new related on the cancer side of things.


    A more potent broccoli sprout


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    Scientists have discovered how broccoli compounds are used by the body. The University of Illinois scientists evaluated how sulforaphane, another broccoli compound, is absorbed by intestinal bacteria in rats and transferred to the blood stream. Believe it or not, a rats digestive system is fairly similar to a human's, which is why rats are frequently used for testing purposes. Scientists believe humans probably absorb sulforaphane in a similar fashion to rats.


    This discovery has lead scientists to question the possibility of enhancing the activity of colon bacteria to increase broccoli's potential to prevent cancer.


    Do you think we should tamper with broccoli?


    The thought of tampering with nature always concerns me. I tend to prefer leaving the foods I consume in the form nature intended. There may be benefits to modifications at times; however, I remain skeptical. What do you think?


    How much broccoli


    If you want to consume broccoli as a medicinal food with the intention of reaping the "cancer-fighting" benefits, it is recommended you consume 3 to 5 half cup broccoli servings each week. If you dislike broccoli, you may be all for scientists making some modifications. If researchers are able to improve the body's sulforaphane absorption you may have to eat less broccoli to see the benefits.


    How to promote healthy gut bacteria


    You can promote proliferation of healthy gut bacteria to naturally increase the body's absorption of broccoli compounds. Two options include "feeding" healthy gut bacteria with prebiotics or utilize probiotics. Fiber would be an example of a prebiotic and yogurt with "live cultutes" contains probiotics.


    This is a great example of how minor diet changes can have a significant impact on your health. Three to five half-cup servings of broccoli each week is not all that much.


    Be sure to sign-up for the free e-course 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure at provided by Health Central dietitian Lisa Nelson.



Published On: October 26, 2010