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Broccoli May Beneficially Change Gut Bacteria

A healthy gut microbiota contains a variety of different bacteria. A recent study suggests that eating broccoli may positively affect the diversity and composition of microbiota in the intestinal tract.


Participants in the study included18 healthy adults who were given either with 200 g of cooked broccoli or a control diet of 20 g fresh daikon radish daily for 17 days. The study period was followed by a 24-day washout period, after which the groups traded food interventions. Fecal samples were collected at baseline and at the end of each treatment period for microbial analysis.


At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted a 37% increase in the proportion of Bacteroidetes bacteria relative to Firmicutes bacteria after broccoli consumption. In comparison, the control period was associated with a 5% increase. The ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes bacteria is considered a biomarker for obesity. Lower levels of the former and higher levels of the latter are associated with obesity.


Additional analysis showed that broccoli consumption was also associated with a 6% increase in Bacteroides, while the radish control was associated with a 2% decrease.


Researchers from the University of Illinois conducted the study. It was published in the April 2017 issue of FASEB Journal.


Previous studies suggest that eating more broccoli may help protect men from prostate cancer. Broccoli is also high in B vitamins, which studies show support the immune system and help lower homocysteine (an amino acid related to high risk of heart disease and stroke).


In order to get the most health benefits from broccoli, you should consider eating it raw, although steamed broccoli also contains many of the nutrients. You can also include broccoli in salads or try a vegetable juice drink, many of which contain raw broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.

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