Suffering from fatty liver disease? Eat more broccoli, says new research.
Before kale came along, broccoli was the token green vegetable—the epitome of healthy food both revered and hated for its, well, greenness.
Broccoli's healthy reputation comes in earnest; it’s a host of good-for-you nutrients from fiber and protein (a surprising 4.2 grams per serving) to vitamins A, C, and B6, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron, as well as antioxidants that have been linked to protection against cancer-causing free radicals.
In the kitchen, broccoli is incredibly versatile, taking on flavors in any number of dishes from Italian to Indian to Chinese and Middle Eastern.
Now, new research points to another reason to add broccoli into your regular diet rotation, as it seems to boast benefits that may be crucial to liver protection from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease most often linked with obesity.
The research, published in the recent issue of the Journal of Nutrition, says simply adding broccoli to the typical Western diet high in (processed) fats and sugars, could be effective in blocking the disease that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
For the study (on mice), the researchers looked at broccoli’s effects on subjects exposed to diethylnitrosamine, a known carcinogen common in the standard Western diet. While the exposure to the chemical increased the development of cancers, freeze-dried broccoli decreased the number of malignant nodules. The researchers also noted the health of the liver greatly benefited from the addition of the broccoli.
“Broccoli stopped too much uptake of fat into the liver by decreasing the uptake and increasing the output of lipid from the liver,” senior study author University of Illinois professor Elizabeth Jeffrey told NutraIngredients.
Broccoli is rich in glucoraphanin—a compound not common in most other foods. Once ingested, it’s converted to sulforaphane, which has been linked to cancer prevention. The study authors found the naturally occurring presence of glucoraphanin in the broccoli was also linked to healthier liver regulation of fats as opposed to the subjects given isolated sulforaphane.
"This is one of the things that makes this very exciting for us," Jeffrey noted.
“Including broccoli in the diet may have substantial public health implications for maintenance of a healthy liver,” the study authors noted, “particularly in those who are greatly overweight.”
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Broccoli image via Shutterstock