Broccoli

British scientists have created a type of broccoli that reportedly contains three times more glucoraphanin than regular broccoli—an active chemical compound that may help decrease the risk of developing chronic illnesses including heart disease and cancer.

Called Beneforte, the broccoli breed was created through a publically funded research program at the UK’s Institute of Food Research and the John Innes Centre. Using conventional breeding techniques, the scientists developed the broccoli, which is now available in the British marketplace in limited quantities, with more becoming available by mid-2012. According to Professor Richard Mithen of the Institute of Food Research who worked on the development, “Now there will also be something brand new for consumers to eat as a result of the discoveries we have made.”

Citing it as a “fantastic achievement” for research into what exactly makes broccoli healthy, the team of scientists are also looking at developing additional highly commercial foods with enhanced phytonutrients and other healing properties.

Broccoli is the only commonly consumed food that is high in glucoraphanin, which converts in the digestive system to the bioactive compound sulforaphane, a chemical that circulates throughout the bloodstream and can assist the body in reducing inflammation—the most common factor linked to a number of health issues from hypertension to arthritis. And, according to the scientists who developed Beneforte, their research supports evidence that indicates people who eat diets that are high in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale, have a lower incidence of developing serious health conditions including cancer and heart disease.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: Clara S.