“Eat your broccoli,” my mother would say. “They’re like little trees.”
She wasn’t fooling anyone. Those nasty things were nothing like trees. Who wants to eat trees, anyway?
Fortunately, in my adulthood, I gained some sense about what good taste is all about, and now I adore broccoli. I can and do eat too many of these cruciferous vegetables. Steamed, with a sprinkling of sea salt, is how I prefer my ‘green trees.’
Whether or not you’ve shared my experience that the taste of broccoli has improved over the years, there is now good reason to dive in heartily when offered the crunchy vegetable. Scientists in the UK have discovered that mice that were fed diets rich in the compound sulforaphane (found in many cruciferous vegetables, but concentrated in broccoli) had less cartilage damage and osteoarthritis than those that were not. So broccoli, it seems, has the potential to slow down the degeneration of joint cartilage that is associated with osteoarthritis. As we age, it is important to care for our joints so that they retain strength and vitality.
The compound sulforaphane is not new to researchers. Previous studies have focused on the anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties of sulforaphane, but this is the first study that focuses on the effect of the compound on the body’s joints.
How much broccoli should you be eating to fight osteoporosis, and in what form?
Scientists tell us that fresh broccoli is vastly superior to frozen because the flash-freezing process strips the broccoli of myrosinase, an enzyme that is essential in producing the cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane. So, stick to fresh broccoli, or pair it with other foods that contain myrosinase: raw radishes, cabbage, arugula, watercress, horseradish, spicy mustard, or wasabi.
Eating three to five servings of broccoli weekly is enough to produce some cancer-preventing benefits, but if you’re like me, you’ll love the excuse to eat it more often than that.