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Health-Giving Broccoli the Best of the Bunch

Health-Giving Broccoli the Best of the Bunch

Monday, August 19th 2002

Dr John Briffa in London salutes his favourite, magical green vegetable, broccoli.

Many of us will have enduring childhood memories of being urged to eat our greens. Happily, this mantra turns out to have some basis in science: research has revealed that green vegetables pack a greater nutritional punch than more anaemic-looking produce, such as potatoes and swede.

One vegetable I rate as an especially heavy hitter in this respect is broccoli. Broccoli's intensely green hue hints strongly at its nutritional potential., so no wonder that scientists have discovered it to be rich in a plethora of disease-protective nutrients.

Many of the health-giving properties vegetables offer are often ascribed to the vitamins and minerals they contain. However, vegetables are also rich in a class of substances known as phytochemicals.

While less well known than vitamins are minerals, phytochemicals nonetheless have the capacity to wield significant biochemical power in the body. Research over the past decade has revealed that broccoli is brimming with two phyochemicals known as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol (I3C).

Both of these substances stimulate enzymes that help to deactivate cancer causing substances in the body. Not only that, but there is increasing evidence that filling up on broccoli ( and other vegetables from the same plant family, such as sprouts and cabbage) may help to reduce our risk of succumbing to cancer.

Recently I3C has been the subject of particular scientific attention.
It appears that some of this compound's benefits centre around its effect on the hormone oestrogen. Oestrogen comes in several different forms in the body, some of which are believed to stimulate the development of certain cancers, such as those of the breast, uterus and maybe cervix.

I3C has been found to help in taking the sting out of oestrogen by assisting its transformation into less-toxic forms. In animal studies, I3C has been found to reduce the number and size of tumours induced by cancer-causing substances. Work in humans has also produced encouraging results: one study found that I3C taken for 12 weeks reversed the early stages of cervical cancer in eight out of 17 women.

Another important nutrient that broccoli has in its arsenal is folic acid. Famed for its ability in helping to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida, folic acid is believed to help to reduce the risk of colon cancer, too.

Other benefits from folic acid appear to come from its effect on a substance called homocysteine in the body. High levels of homocysteine are linked with an increased risk of several conditions. Including heart disease, stroke, dementia and osteoporosis.

Folic acid found in broccoli helps to quell homocysteine levels, and in so doing may help to keep us free of disease and stay fighting fit in the long term.

To get maximum nutritional benefit from broccoli, it is important for our bodies to get hold of the nutrients it contains.

Steaming broccoli for about seven minutes and chewing it well is probably the best way to get all the goodness this vegetable has to offer.

Source NZ Herald 30th June 2002

Footnote from Ideal Health

The health benefits of soy are being reported worldwide. Scientific interests in Soy centres on the key phytoestrogens, isoflavones. Soy Isoflavone provides as standardised extracts provides the natural ratios of the key isoflavones genistein, daidzein and glycitein in a convenient once daily dosage. Clinical applications of Soy Isoflavones are tumours, hormone dependent - oestrogen (breast, endometrial, ovarian) testosterone (prostatic), also general tumours, menopausal or hyperoestrogenic states, osteoporosis, premenopausal hyper estrogenic states menstrual disturbances, endometriosis, cardiovascular disease, elevated cholesterol, thrombotic tendency (stroke) and free radical stress.

DIM (Diindolylmethane) estrogen metabolism formula. It supports the activity of enzymes that improve estrogen metabolism. Increases the level of good estrogens while reducing the level of bad estrogens. Useful for hormonal balance and fat metabolism. Dim-Plus is superior to regular diindolymethane and its unstable precursor indol-3-carbinol (13C)

The following products are all useful for hormonal balancing:

30 Plus
Estrosoy Plus
Female Hormone Self Test Kit
Hi Strength Evening Primrose Oil
Hot Flush Fix
Maca Gold
Male Hormone Self Test Kit

Related health information can be found here:

Hormonal Changes

Related articles can be found here:

Balance your hormones the Peruvian way - the amazing Maca
Current Combined HRT Use Doubles Risk of Breast Cancer
Herbal alternative to HRT
Stroke Risk Increased in Hypertensive Women Using HRT

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.


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