Norfolk, UK
BBC
Eating lots of broccoli may slow down and even prevent osteoarthritis, UK researchers believe.
The University of East Anglia team is starting human trials following on from successful lab studies.
Tests on cells and mice showed that a broccoli compound - which humans can also get from Brussels sprouts and cabbage - blocked a key destructive enzyme that damages cartilage.
They are asking 20 patients to eat a daily dose of “super-charged” broccoli. This special cruciferous vegetable has been bred to be extra rich in nutrients - it is a cross between standard broccoli and a wild relative from Sicily.
Our body takes this glucoraphanin compound and turns it into another, called sulforaphane, which appears to protect the joints. The volunteers will have two weeks on the diet before going under the knife to have their badly arthritic knees repaired by surgeons.
Dr Rose Davidson and her team will look at the tissue that has been removed to see what impact, if any, the broccoli has had.
She said: “We’re asking patients to eat 100g (3.5oz) every day for two weeks. That’s a normal, good-sized serving - about a handful - and it’s an amount that most people should be happy to eat every day.” While two weeks is highly unlikely to be enough to cause any big change, Dr Davidson hopes it will be enough to offer some evidence that “super” broccoli could benefit humans. “I can’t imagine it would repair or reverse arthritis... but it might be a way to prevent it,” she said.
Her team will be looking for proof that sulforaphane has travelled to where it is needed in the joint and that it is causing beneficial changes at the cellular level.
Another 20 knee replacement patients who have not been on the diet will be used as a comparison group.