Save Your Knees: Eat Some Broccoli
Did your mother ever tell you to eat your broccoli? You should listen to your mama. Love it or hate it, it’s hard to deny that broccoli is a superfood. Broccoli is a good source of dietary calcium and it’s packed with fiber and other nutrients, like vitamins C, K and A. But the nutritional bonanza doesn’t end there. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and others in the Brassica family (think cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage) are good sources of lutein, a pigment compound linked to eye health. In fact, plenty of experts now prescribe supplements containing lutein and other natural plant pigments, like zeaxanthin, to prevent macular degeneration in older patients.
Broccoli also contains cancer-fighting compounds, such as the glucosinolates. These sulfur-containing compounds break down in the body to form still more potent cancer-fighting chemicals, such as sulforophane, indole-3-carbinol (I3C), and diindolylmethane (DIM). Emerging evidence strongly suggests that these remarkable chemicals help fight cancer in a number of significant ways.
And emerging evidence also suggests sulforaphane helps protect cartilage cells from injury or death. This at least implies that eating broccoli can help prevent osteoarthritis and maybe even serve as a treatment in rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a common inflammatory condition that involves pain and stiffness in the joints. It’s often associated with aging, and is usually controlled with anti-inflammatory medications, which can take a toll on gut health. It’s not clear yet how broccoli compounds save cartilage cells, but the effect may be due, at least in part, to the natural anti-inflammatory activity of broccoli compounds in the body.
Facchini A, Stanic I, Cetrullo S, Borzì RM, Filardo G, Flamigni F. Sulforaphane protects human chondrocytes against cell death induced by various stimuli. J Cell Physiol. 2011 Jul;226(7):1771-9. doi: 10.1002/jcp.22506.
Johnson EJ, Hammond BR, Yeum KJ, Qin J, Wang XD, Castaneda C, et al. Relation among serum and tissue concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin and macular pigment density. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun;71(6):1555-62.
Kong JS, Yoo SA, Kim HS, Kim HA, Yea K, Ryu SH, et al. Inhibition of synovial hyperplasia, rheumatoid T cell activation, and experimental arthritis in mice by sulforaphane, a naturally occurring isothiocyanate. Arthritis Rheum. 2010 Jan;62(1):159-70. doi: 10.1002/art.25017.