The unusual health effects of broccoli

In fact, in order to cause cancer, carcinogens must bind to the cell’s genetic material (DNA) and cause damage that will eventually lead to the development of cancer. Certain molecules found in vegetables of the cabbage family prevent this phenomenon by stimulating the activity of our defense systems against these harmful, toxic substances, increasing their excretion from the body and reducing the possibility of cancer. This effect is very important because many cancers are directly caused by deficiencies in the activity of these detoxification systems: regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables makes it possible to increase the performance of these systems.

Heart disease protection

This protective effect is well illustrated by the results of studies that showed an impressive reduction (more than half) in the risk of developing certain types of cancer, particularly bladder and prostate cancer. Therefore, cruciferous vegetables should be considered as the first line of defense as defensive weapons that prevent carcinogens from causing cell damage that leads to the development of cancers. In addition to its well-documented anti-cancer effects, studies have also shown the role of broccoli in preventing heart disease.

A large epidemiological study of 35,000 American women showed that broccoli consumption was associated with a significantly reduced risk of heart disease. These results are consistent with the results of a pilot study that showed that consuming young broccoli sprouts (100 grams per day for a week) caused a decrease in LDL (bad cholesterol) as well as an increase in cholesterol. HDL (the good cholesterol), two indicators of a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Another recent study suggests that this protective role of broccoli is related to its ability to improve heart muscle function as well as protect it from damage caused by free radicals.

Thus, researchers note that the hearts of animals that eat broccoli regularly resist the momentary lack of oxygen better (as occurs during a myocardial infarction). Subsequent molecular analysis showed that this protective effect is related to the ability of molecules in broccoli to increase levels of thioredoxins, a family of proteins that play an important role in neutralizing free radicals within cells. Since other members of the cabbage family also have molecules similar to those in broccoli, these results suggest that consumption of cruciferous vegetables in general is very positive for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Eat it as often as possible and how to prepare it

As with all preventative foods, eating cruciferous vegetables regularly is key to increased protection against chronic disease. Fortunately for us, the very wide range of cruciferous vegetables currently on the market allows us to take full advantage of the beneficial properties of these foods without falling into monotony.

Eating at least three servings of this vegetable per week is one of the changes in habits that can have the biggest impact on your risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, it must be remembered that the cruciferous particles are sensitive to cooking and that cooking this vegetable in a lot of water or for a long time should be avoided as much as possible. Steaming broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or even cauliflower with chrysanthemum flower will preserve the majority of the anti-cancer molecules in these vegetables.

Likewise, cooking various cruciferous vegetables such as head cabbage and Chinese cabbage is a simple (and delicious!) way to maximize the protective effects of these vegetables.


Michaud et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of bladder cancer in a prospective male cohort. J Natl Cancer Inst; 91: 605-613

Yochum et al. A.m. A prospective study of fruit and vegetable intake and prostate cancer risk. epidimol. ; 149: 943-949.

Murashima et al Phase I studied several biomarkers of metabolism and oxidative stress after eating broccoli sprouts for 1 week. vital factors. 22: 271-275.

Mukherjee and others. J. Agric. Chem food. Broccoli: a unique plant that protects mammalian hearts through the redox cycle of the thioredoxin superfamily; 56: 609-617.

* Presse Santé strives to impart medical knowledge in a language accessible to all. In no way can the information provided replace medical advice.

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