Courtesy of BBC News
Researchers have discovered a possible reason why green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are good for the heart. Their work suggests a chemical found in the vegetables can boost a natural defense mechanism to protect arteries from disease. Details appear in Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
The latest study 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. However, it also found that 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. "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.