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Broccoli Tea to Fight Air Pollution

Undoubtedly, the best way to avoid the damage air pollution can cause to your health is to move to where the air is clean. The World Health Organization estimates that the chemicals in air pollution take seven million lives per year, worldwide. Fortunately, there may be a way to cancel out some of the unhealthy effects of pollution without leaving home. Researchers from Johns Hopkins and China’s Qidong Liver Cancer Institute tested the effects of a tea made with broccoli sprouts among 291 residents of Jiangsu Province, an area of China that which has some of the worst air pollution in the country. The study showed that a daily drink of a half cup of the tea – a combination of freeze-dried broccoli sprout powder, water and pineapple and lime juice – increased elimination of by-products of the cancer-causing toxin benzene by 61 percent, and boosted excretion of acrolein, a lung irritant, by 23 percent. Increased elimination of these substances began immediately after the participants began drinking the tea and continued at the same rate through the study. No such changes were measured in study participants who drank a similar tea that did not include the broccoli sprout extract. Broccoli sprouts contain sulforaphane, a compound that has been shown in animal studies to help lower risks of cancer and promote excretion of benzene. You can get sulforaphane in your diet by eating broccoli, but a more concentrated form would be needed to match the levels provided by the tea in the study.

Thomas Kensler et al, “Rapid and Sustainable Detoxication of Airborne Pollutants by Broccoli Sprout Beverage: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial in China,” Cancer Prevention Research, doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0103

Another Good Reason to Eat More Broccoli

Broccoli help lower the risks of both cancer and heart disease.Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnip greens and kale are rich in antioxidants, which help lower the risks of both cancer and heart disease. Population studies have shown that people who eat broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables regularly have lower rates of cancer than those who don't. And now a research team in England has reported on another potential health benefit: sulforaphane, a compound in broccoli, may help prevent arthritis of the knee. The British investigators found that when they laced mouse food with sulforaphane, the animals had significantly less cartilage damage and were less likely to develop osteoarthritis than mice that remained on their regular diet. In the laboratory, the investigators found that cartilage cells from humans (as well as those from cows) were less damaged by osteoarthritis when they were treated with sulforaphane. The same team now plans a small human study to see whether “super broccoli” containing high amounts of sulforaphane has any impact on osteoarthritis in 40 patients scheduled for knee replacement surgery.

Ian M. Clark et al, “Sulforaphane represses matrix-degrading proteases and protects cartilage from destruction in vitro and in vivo,”  Arthritis & Rheumatism, DOI: 10.1002/art.38133