The Battle is On: Why You Must Eat More Of This Disease-Fighter

As if another reason was needed to eat your broccoli, this week researchers from the University of East Anglia in the U.K. discovered that sulforaphane, a compound found mainly in broccoli, could actually hold the key to slowing down the destructive process of damage to cartilage in joints associated with osteoarthritis.

Researchers discovered that when mice were kept on a sulforaphane-rich diet, they subsequently suffered less cartilage damage and osteoarthritis than those mice that did not.

According to the researchers, the compound sulforaphane is released when consuming broccoli. You can also get lower levels from Brussels sprouts and cabbage. They found that sulforaphane blocks the enzymes that destroy cartilage in joints, by inhibiting the molecule known to cause inflammation. While earlier studies have suggested that sulforaphane possessed anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, this was the first such study to focus on its benefits for joint health, with the findings published on August 28, 2013 in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.

For the estimated 27 million Americans, the 8.5 million in the U.K., the three million plus in Canada, and millions more with the degenerative disease, the damage of cartilage caused by osteoarthritis is painful, and often debilitating. So this news is extremely encouraging.

In fact, the findings were so promising the University of East Anglia team will be beginning human trials.

PLUS: Slash Your Arthritis Risk in Half

“This is an interesting study with promising results as it suggests that a common vegetable, broccoli, might have health benefits for people with osteoarthritis and even possibly protect people from developing the disease in the first place,” said Alan Silman, Arthritis Research U.K.’s medical director, whose company is funding the study.

The team is hoping to get 20 patients to eat a daily dose of 100g of a “super” broccoli, which is actually a normal serving size that most people should be able to maintain.

The patients who take part will be on this diet for two weeks before going for surgery to have their arthritic knees repaired.

The team will then look at the tissue that was removed during the surgery to see if there was any impact from the broccoli diet. It will be compared to another 20 patients who weren’t on the two week broccoli diet.

While they know two weeks probably won’t garner drastic results, the hope is to provide proof that it could benefit those suffering with the debilitating disease.

The “super” broccoli being used in the study is known as Beneforté, which was developed at the U.K.’s Institute of Food Research and the John Innes Centre.

Aging and obesity are the most prevalent contributors to osteoarthritis, which affects the hands, feet, spine, hips, and knees. So along with the potentially amazing healing benefits this study hopes broccoli can provide for those suffering with the disease, it’s also another reason everyone should be switching to a healthy diet.

Roberts, M., “Broccoli slows arthritis, researchers think” BBC News web site, August 27, 2013;

Sifferlin, A., “Broccoli could help prevent arthritis” CNN web site, August 29, 2013;
Mitchell, D., “Has Osteoarthritis Met Its Match in Broccoli?” EmaxHealth web site;
Russell, P., “Broccoli could help fight arthritis” WebMD web site;