Broccoli could hold the key to preventing painful arthritis, NHS Choices reports.
The vegetable is a good source of a compound called sulforaphane. The study is based on tests of sulforaphane on human and cow cartilage cells and artificially induced arthritis in mice.
Cartilage is the protective tissue found on the surface of joints that helps them to move smoothly. Damage and breakdown of cartilage can lead to osteoarthritis, which often causes severe symptoms of joint pain and swelling.
Sulforaphane is found in broccoli, and previous studies have suggested that it might help stop the breakdown of cartilage.
In this study, the researchers found that sulforaphane helped reduce the production of the enzymes that contribute to human cartilage breakdown. It was also found to protect bovine cartilage tissue from damage in the lab. The mice fed a sulforaphane-rich diet also had fewer signs of arthritis in their cartilage than controls.
Researchers now plan to study people with osteoarthritis who are awaiting joint surgery, testing the effects of eating "super broccoli", specially bred to release large amounts of sulforaphane. The results of this study will better indicate if eating broccoli can have a beneficial effect on osteoarthritis in people.