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Enhanced Broccoli May Lower Cholesterol Even More Than Regular Broccoli

Two recent studies suggest that a functional form of broccoli with a high glucoraphanin content may lower cholesterol in people with a mild to moderate risk of cardiovascular disease. Glucoraphanin is the compound in broccoli that transforms into the bioactive compound sulphoraphane in the body and changes fat synthesis signal pathways away from the production of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the mitochondria of our cells.

Participants in the first study included 37 people between the ages of 50 and 76 who were given either 400 g of standard broccoli or 400 g of high glucoraphanin broccoli weekly for 12 weeks. The broccoli was frozen and steamed for five minutes. The enhanced broccoli contained 21.6 micromoles per gram of glucoraphanin while the standard broccoli had 6.9 micromoles per gram.

The researchers measured blood pressure and plasma lipids at the beginning and end of the study and found a 7.1% reduction in LDL cholesterol in the enhanced broccoli when compared with only 1.8% in the regular broccoli.

For the second part of the study, 93 participants of the same age range were given the same interventions. At the end of the study, their LDL cholesterol was reduced by 5.1% in the enhanced broccoli group and 2.5% in the normal broccoli group.

Researchers from the Institute of Food Research in the UK conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on April 7, 2015, in the Journal of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

Previous studies suggest that eating more broccoli may protect men from prostate cancer. Broccoli is also high in B vitamins, which studies show have anti-cancer properties, support the immune system and 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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