Preliminary research suggests that broccoli sprouts have chemopreventive properties. In a pilot clinical trial and an animal study, researchers found that the consumption of broccoli sprouts can reduce colonization of Helicobacter pylori, which is associated with the development of gastritis and gastric cancer. In addition, consuming broccoli sprouts appears to enhance antioxidant and anti-inflammatory enzymes in the stomach.
The study, published in the April issue of Cancer Prevention Research, builds on earlier research about the potential value of sulforaphane, a naturally occurring biochemical that is found in relative abundance in fresh broccoli sprouts. Laboratory experiments using purified sulforaphane have shown that it displays antibacterial properties against helicobacter and even kills strains that are resistant to commonly used antibiotics (Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002;99:7610-7615).
"In our 2002 study, sulforaphane killed helicobacter directly in the test tube," said study author Jed W. Fahey, MS, ScD, a nutritional biochemist in the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Cancer Chemoprotection Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore, Maryland. "It also reduced the rate of gastric cancer in mice."
Although the pure compound effectively eliminated helicobacter, it was not clear whether the same effect could be reproduced with dietary sources of sulforaphane. The current study showed that a dietary source might to exert a similar but milder effect.
We're now giving people the science that shows why eating fruits and vegetables is good for your health.
"The key take-home message harkens back to the old message — eat veggies," Dr. Fahey told Medscape Oncology. "We're now giving people the science that shows why eating fruits and vegetables is good for your health."
Research has shown that fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients, which might have a protective effect. "Right now," said Dr. Fahey, "we're providing the evidence that shows that broccoli is good for you."
The current research is actually 2 complementary studies — 1 in mice and 1 in humans infected with H. pylori — in which sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprouts were added to the diet.
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