British scientists have developed a superfood broccoli designed to combat the effects of aging.
Sold under the name Beneforte, the vegetable is a combination of wild and commercial broccoli that contains high levels of a health-boosting compound called “glucoraphanin,” which may prevent heart disease and cancer, Sky News reports.
Beneforte has been sold since 2011, but a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals it as a superfood that fights major diseases and boosts people’s metabolisms.
“We think this provides some evidence as to why people who eat diets rich in broccoli may keep in good health,” Researcher Professor Richard Mithen, who led the study at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, told the Daily Mail.
Researchers came to the conclusion after giving 400 grams of Beneforte to 19 volunteers each week for three months. Compared to two other groups – one of which ate regular broccoli and another that ate none -- those who consumed the glucoraphanin-rich vegetable showed signs of an improved metabolism.
In particular, a chemical found in the vegetable improved the chemical reactions inside mitochondria, the “batteries” inside cells. The study found that glucoraphanin helped “retune” cellular processes in the cells that get disrupted as humans age.
“Mitochondria are really, really important, and when they start to go wrong it leads to many of the diseases of aging,” Mithen said, suggesting people eat broccoli two to three times a week.
On Beneforte’s website, the company says the vegetable is the result of more than 10 years of cross-pollination between commercial broccoli and a wild variety found in Italy. Scientists discovered the vegetable variety in the 1980s while looking for uncultivated broccoli varieties with higher levels of phytonutrients.
Now, the broccoli is grown in California’s Santa Maria Valley. According to the company’s website, it’s sold in the U.S. at Sam’s Club and several Texas and California supermarkets.
Previous studies have reported similar findings, where diets rich in cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower may reduce the risk of cancer, type II diabetes and other chronic diseases of aging. The latest study is the first to use humans to draw conclusions, according a statement by the IFR.
“Although this is a pilot study, we think it is significant because it shows in humans a measurable effect on our metabolism, which is central to our overall health and could explain the diverse range of beneficial effects many observational dietary studies have shown previously,” Mithen said.