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Vegetable Shown to Boost Antioxidants, Protect Against Respiratory Inflammation

According to a study published in the March 2009 issue of Clinical Immunology, a certain compound found in broccoli may help prevent respiratory inflammation associated with asthma and nasal allergies.

The compound, called sulforaphane, is found in the highest concentrations in broccoli sprouts, but is also present in other cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.

Sulforaphane has been shown to increase the production of antioxidant enzymes in the airway that protect against free radicals like reactive oxygen species (also known as ROS), which are linked to tissue damage and inflammation in the respiratory system.

The recent study included 65 healthy, non-smoking volunteers from the UCLA campus and surrounding area. Each participant received varying doses of either broccoli or alfalfa sprouts for a period of three days.

Alfalfa sprouts were used as the placebo because they are similar in taste, looks, and texture, but do not contain sulforaphane.

At the end of the study period, researchers from UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine took nasal fluid samples from each participant to determine the amount of antioxidant enzymes in their nasal airways.

They found a 2 to 3 fold increase in antioxidant enzymes among the participants who consumed the broccoli sprouts compared to the alfalfa group, which saw no increase.

In addition, researchers note that sulforaphane also appears to stimulate a broad array of antioxidant enzymes and may help protect against the harmful effects of indoor and outdoor air pollution.
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