Washington, Sept 5 (ANI): Here's why broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are good for the heart - a chemical found in these vegetables can boost a natural defence mechanism to protect arteries from disease.
The build up of fatty plaques in arteries called atherosclerosis leads to heart disease.
The Imperial College London team has shown that a protein that usually protects against plaque build up called Nrf2 is inactive in areas of arteries that are prone to disease.
Treatment with a chemical found in green "brassica" vegetables such as broccoli can activate Nrf2 in these disease-prone regions.
"We found that the innermost layer of cells at branches and bends of arteries lack the active form of Nrf2, which may explain why they are prone to inflammation and disease," BBC News quoted lead researcher Dr Paul Evans as saying.
"Treatment with the natural compound sulforaphane reduced inflammation at the high-risk areas by 'switching on' Nrf2.
"Sulforaphane is found naturally in broccoli, so our next steps include testing whether simply eating broccoli, or other vegetables in their 'family', has the same protective effect.
"We also need to see if the compound can reduce the progression of disease in affected arteries," he added.
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, which funded the research said that the new findings provide a possible mechanism by which eating vegetables protects against heart disease.
During the study, the researchers genetically engineered mice to lack the Nrf2 protein.
The research found that in straight sections of arteries Nrf2 was present in the endothelial 'lining' cells. Through its action on other proteins, it prevented the cells from becoming inflamed, an early stage in the development of atherosclerosis.
The study appears in Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. (ANI)