Eating broccoli, long believed to reduce cancer risk, can also protect the heart, according to a new study by Health Center researchers.
Graduate student Subhendu Mukherjee, working with Dipak Das, professor of surgery, in his lab in the Cardiovascular Research Center, fed rats an extract of steamed broccoli for a month and then measured the animals’ heart muscles. Compared to rats fed a regular diet, the hearts of broccoli-fed rats functioned better.
“There was abundant epidemiological evidence that eating broccoli helped reduce the risk of cancer,” says Das.
“But because broccoli contains selenium and sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates that can produce a cardio-protective protein thioredoxin, we wanted to see if eating broccoli could also be beneficial to the heart.”
Says Mukherjee, “Our study indicates consumption of broccoli activates several survival proteins. If the broccoli is overcooked, however, it loses a lot of its protective effect.”
Das, who has long been interested in the health benefits of food, last year published a study that showed white wine has the same heart-healthy benefits as red.
He also recently established the Institute of Medicinal Food and Applied Nutrition at Jadavapur University in his native India, to promote research on the subject.