A healthful component within cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cabbage is well known for its positive effect in fighting cancer. Researchers now find that it could also help patients with osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.
Sulforaphane is a phytochemical in cruciferous vegetables that exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. A study in 2009 found that the compound can protect arteries against inflammation, leading to improved cardiovascular health. It is this property that researchers at the University of East Anglia focused upon in their study linking sulforaphane’s anti-inflammation abilities to reduced cartilage damage and lower risk of osteoarthritis.
A team led by Ian Clark, professor of musculoskeletal biology, fed mice a diet rich in sulforaphane and found the compound blocks the enzymes that cause joint destruction by stopping a key molecule known to cause inflammation. Professor Clark now is in preparation for a study to learn if sulforaphane is just as effective in human joints.
Osteoarthritis is a painful and often limiting joint disease that affects 27 million American adults. Age and obesity are the most common contributors. The only treatment is pain relief or joint replacement.
“Although surgery is very successful, it is not really an answer. Once you have osteoarthritis, being able to slow its progress and the progression to surgery is really important,” says Dr. Clark. “Prevention would be preferable and changes to lifestyle, like diet, may be the only way to do that.”
Another positive osteoarthritis plus for broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are that they are low-calorie, high fiber (filling) foods that can help you with weight management. 1 serving of broccoli offers only 50 calories but a whopping 3.8 grams of fiber. In addition, it is also a good source of other important bone and joint nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium. Plus, it offers 220% of the daily value for vitamin C to help protect your immune system.
Not really a broccoli fan yet? Try one of ten family-friendly broccoli recipes offered in Real Simple Magazine that are sure to be a hit – even with the kids.
Ian M. Clark et al. "Sulforaphane represses matrix-degrading proteases and protects cartilage from destruction in vitro and in vivo"; Arthritis & Rheumatismpublished online 27 August 2013; DOI: 10.1002/art.38133.