Consuming broccoli or brassica vegetable like kale or cabbage every three or four days may also lower the risk of cancers and other degenerative diseases, a new study suggests.
The scientists identified genes in broccoli that control the accumulation of phenolic compounds associated with a lowered risk of coronary heart disease, Type II diabetes, asthma and several types of cancer.
Phenolic compounds have good antioxidant activity that affects biochemical pathways affiliated with inflammation in mammals.
“We need inflammation because it's a response to disease or damage, but it's also associated with initiation of a number of degenerative diseases. People whose diets consist of a certain level of these compounds will have a lesser risk of contracting these diseases," said Jack Juvik from University of Illinois, in the US.
As the phenolic compounds are flavourless and stable, the vegetables can be cooked without losing health-promoting qualities.
Once consumed, the phenolic compounds gets absorbed and targets certain areas of the body or gets concentrated in the liver and flavonoids spread through the bloodstream, reducing inflammation through their antioxidant activity.
"These are things we can't make ourselves, so we have to get them from our diets," Juvik said.
"The compounds don't stick around forever, so we need to eat broccoli or some other Brassica vegetable every three or four days to lower the risk of cancers and other degenerative diseases," Juvik noted.
In the study, published in the journal Molecular Breeding, the team crossed two broccoli lines and tested their progeny in terms of total phenolic content and their ability to neutralise oxygen radicals in cellular assays.
A genetic technique called quantitative trait locus was used to analyse the genes involved in generating phenolics.
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