Eating broccoli may slow down and even prevent the onset of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease.
The study, conducted by the researchers at the University of East Anglia, U.K., found that sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli, slows down the annihilation of cartilage in joints, the prime cause of osteoarthritis.
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and cabbage contain rich amounts of Sulforaphane. The compound is already known to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, but this is the first major study to bring forth its effects on joint health.
The first part of the trail was conducted in laboratory wherein one group of mice were fed a diet rich in the compound Sulforaphane, while the other were fed on a normal diet.
Follow-up examinations revealed that mice that were fed on a diet rich in the compound Sulforaphane had less cartilage damage and osteoarthritis as compared to mice in the other group.
After successful lab studies, researchers have now initiated human trails to check if eating broccoli conferred similar benefits in humans too.
A total of 40 people have been enrolled for the study. All volunteers are afflicted with osteoarthritis and are due for a surgery in 2 weeks.
While half the 40 patients enrolled will be given “super broccoli,” specially bred broccoli to have high contents of sulforaphane, for 2 weeks until their surgery, the other group will undergo their surgery without any prior dietary changes.
Once the knee replacement surgerya has taken place, the researchers will check the removed tissue to see if sulforaphane has traveled to the affected joints and caused any beneficial changes at the cellular level.
“Until now research has failed to show that food or diet can play any part in reducing the progression of osteoarthritis, so if these findings can be replicated in humans, it would be quite a breakthrough, Prof Alan Silman, of Arthritis Research UK, said.
“We know that exercise and keeping to a healthy weight can improve people’s symptoms and reduce the chances of the disease progressing, but this adds another layer in our understanding of how diet could play its part.”
The findings of the animal study are published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.