Raw broccoli reduces heart attack risk: study

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London, Jan 22 (UNI) Wanna save your heart, eat broccoli. Eating broccoli, specially if raw or lightly cooked lowers the risk of heart disease and some cancers, researchers have found.

People eating steamed broccoli are at a lower risk of heart attack as it boosts the body's ability to fight off cell damage, the research said.

There is a clear link between high levels of certain substances found in the vegetable and reduced damage caused by hearts being deprived of oxygen.

Normal biological processes associated with eating and breathing leads to the generation of highly reactive chemicals called free radicals, which can harm cells and even trigger cancer.

But the brassica family of vegetables, including cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts, provide antioxidants that prevent the build-up of free radicals.

Broccoli in particular contains sulforaphane, which triggers production of proteins that are part of the body's cardiovascular defence system.

The new study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, showed a specific mechanism in tests on animals.

Compared with rats on a normal diet, those fed the broccoli extract had improved heart function and less damage when deprived of oxygen.

''These effects were caused by the broccoli diet triggering increased production of several proteins that maintain the heart's ability to function healthily,'' the Telegraph quoted Prof Dipak Das from the University of Connecticut as saying.

''However, if broccoli is over-cooked it loses a lot of its protective effect,'' he added.

UNI XC PD AS1729

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