Eating broccoli may help fight heart disease

Wishing your Valentine good heart health on February 14 – and throughout 2008″ Then consider the food some people love to hate, and hand over a gift bag of broccoli along with that heart-shaped box of chocolates. Researchers in Connecticut are reporting impressive new evidence that eating broccoli may protect against heart disease.

The study is published in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.

Researchers have known for years that broccoli is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber that may protect against cancer, Dipak K. Das and colleagues note. Other studies also suggest that broccoli may benefit the heart, although scientists do not know how it works.

Das and colleagues now report evidence on that topic from animal studies. They gave broccoli extract to lab rats for one month and measured its effects on the rats’ heart muscle. Compared to a control group that ate a regular diet, the broccoli-fed animals had improved heart function and less heart muscle damage when deprived of oxygen. Broccoli’s heart-healthy effects are likely due to its high concentrations of certain substances that seem to boost levels of a heart-protective protein called thioredoxin, the researchers note.

The researchers report that the experimental heart attack led to the death of heart muscle cells by causing a change in the mitochondria within these cells and the release of a protein that ?programmes’ the cell for death. Broccoli consumption appeared to reduce the number of heart muscle cells programmed for cell death and also the levels of protein released, which indicated that it was able to generate some kind of “anti-cell death” signal. They examined several components of these pathways and claim that broccoli appears to rescue the heart muscle in the experimental model heart attack through some form of survival pathway.

“Broccoli: A Unique Vegetable That Protects Mammalian Hearts through the Redox Cycling of the Thioredoxin Superfamily”

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, USA



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