Broccoli adds to its credentials

Broccoli adds to its already impressive credentials with the latest research saying it may help fight heart disease.

According to a new study on the properties of broccoli, eating the vegetable may offer protection from heart disease.

Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family, or Brassicaceae/Cruciferae and has abundant fleshy flower heads, which are usually green in colour and arranged tree-like on branches which sprout from a thick, edible stalk.

Broccoli was originally an Italian vegetable and is a cool-weather crop that does poorly in hot summer weather.

In recent years broccoli has been found to be an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber that may protect against a variety of cancers, and other studies too have also suggested that broccoli may benefit the heart.

Dipak K. Das and colleagues at the Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, Connecticut, tested that claim in a study with rats, resulting in impressive new evidence.

The rats were fed broccoli extract for a one month period and the effects on the rats' heart muscle were measured and compared to a control group that ate a regular diet.

The researchers found that the broccoli-fed animals had improved heart function and less heart muscle damage when deprived of oxygen compared to the control group.

They believe broccoli's heart-healthy effects are because of its high concentrations of certain substances that appear to boost levels of a heart-protective protein called thioredoxin.

The researchers say there is abundant epidemiological evidence which indicates the health benefits of eating broccoli and it also contains high amounts of selenium and glucosinolates which help produce the cardioprotective protein thioredoxin (Trx).

The researchers say the broccoli diet resulted in significant cardio protection.

The study is published this week in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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