You might have hated them for it as a child, but your parents were right to force you to eat your broccoli, as scientists have discovered just how beneficial it is for your health.
And it’s not just helping you out in the short-term.
We all know how important it is to get some greens on our plates at dinnertime, but the study from Oregon State University has shown that broccoli is in a league of its own in terms of protecting your long-term health.
This is because those tenderstems of wonder contain an anti-cancer compound, sulfroaphane, a chemical that is believed to work on your cellular genetics and long non-coding RNAs when ingested.
In the human DNA code there are thousands of IncRNAs, once considered to be a ‘junk DNA’ with no value or function, it now seems that they might play a critical role in triggering cells to become malignant and spread.
When these IncRNAs go rogue and dysregulate, they contribute to multiple cell-based diseases, including cancer.
But the chemical sulforaphane (found in broccoli) has been shown to have the power to regulate one particular IncRNA, LINC01116, which is instrumental in causing prostate cancer.
The study saw a four-fold decrease in the ability of prostate cancer cells to form colonies when the LINC01116 was disrupted from malfunction by sulforaphane.
Laura Beaver, a lead author, said: “It is obviously of interest that this dietary compound, found at some of its highest levels in broccoli, can affect IncRNAs. This could open the door to a whole new range of dietary strategies, foods or drugs that might play a role in cancer suppression or therapeutic control.”
The hope is that if researchers work out how to control these RNAs, unlike chemotherapy drugs, which target healthy cells as which as malignant ones, they could slow the progress of cancer and “keep it from becoming invasive”.