Two-minute Broccoli with Sesame and Fried Shallots Recipe

Broccoli beats air pollution

The industrial revolution has brought some positives to human life but a raft of negatives as well. For instance there has been a massive increase in availability and diversity of goods as well as increases in leisure time. Against this the means for producing goods has been concentrated in the hands of the few taking control over work away from the individual. Exactly what the communications revolution is going to do to all of that remains to be seen but one thing we do know is that a by-product of the industrial revolution that continues is air pollution. The effects of air pollution on the environment can be extensive and for humans they can range from irritation to the eyes, to headaches, to chronic respiratory disease. There are many ways to filter and clean the air but a lot of attention is now focusing on foods that help reduce the negative effects of air pollution. According to one new study it seems that broccoli is leading that pack.

Before outlining the study itself it needs to be noted that one of the key health promoting substances in broccoli is glucophoranin, which is metabolised when chewed or swallowed into sulphorophane.

The new study involved participants who lived in a rural community in Jiangsu Province, China. The area studied is 80 kilometres north of the heavily industrialised and polluted region of Shanghai. The people involved range in age from 21 to 65 and all of them gave urine and blood samples during the trial to assess their levels of air pollutants.

The study participants were split into two groups. One group were given a drink to have daily that consisted of sterilised water, pineapple, and lime juice. The other group were given the same drink but with freeze-dried broccoli sprout powder added.

Using blood and urine measures as a guide, results showed that excretion rates of the lung carcinogen benzene increased by 61 per cents on day one and the reduction was maintained through the 12 weeks of the study. As well, excretion of the respiratory irritant acrolein was increased by 23 per cent.

The researchers estimate that sulphorophane from broccoli is activating a signalling molecule called NRF2 that in turn activates enzymes that help the body deal with the pollutants. Hence the saying “breathe brocoll-easy”.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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