A study from the University of East Anglia (UEA) found that a compound in broccoli may help prevent and even slow the progress of osteoarthritis.

Sulforaphane is a compound that is released when eating cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli. The same compound is also found in cabbage and brussels sprouts. Evidence from previous research suggested that sulforaphane could have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, but it wasn’t until the UEA study in August 2013 that the compound was tested for its effects on joint health.

Three laboratory studies were done to test the effects of the substance on mice. Researchers found that sulforaphane blocks the enzymes that cause joint destruction as it stops an enzyme known to cause inflammation.

The study found that mice fed a diet high in sulforaphane had less cartilage damage and osteoarthritis than mice that were not.

Researchers are now moving into small scale trials to test the effects of a diet rich in broccoli in osteoarthritis patients that are due to have knee replacement surgery. Half of the patients in the study will be given broccoli that has been bred to be high in sulforaphane to eat for two weeks before their operation. A follow-up study will be conducted to see whether the increased sulforaphane intake had any positive effects on joint metabolism.

Broccoli has also been shown to help fight and prevent cancer, especially when eaten in a sprout form. Eating raw broccoli has also been shown to better help its cancer fighting potential, as some beneficial compounds are damaged during the cooking process. Instead, consider quickly steaming the broccoli for two to four minutes as this helps it retain many of its beneficial enzymes and nutrients.

While surgery and medication can help those who suffer from osteoarthritis, diet changes can have a large impact as well, with little risk of side effects.

As we talked about earlier on the blog, weight loss has been shown to have a very positive effect on preventing and slowing the progress of osteoarthritis as well. With only 50 calories in a cup, broccoli is a natural super food that can help with weight loss as well as packing its own osteoarthritis fighting punch!

Image by Steven Lilley via Flickr


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