Researchers say the key to fighting and preventing osteoarthritis may be found in the produce section.
A compound found in broccoli – sulforaphane – “blocks the enzymes that cause joint destruction by stopping a key molecule known to cause inflammation,” a news release from University of Anglia states. The study was published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.
Scientists – and parents nationwide – have long known that broccoli is good for us. Rich in vitamin C, carotenoids, fiber, calcium and folate, broccoli may also reduce the risk of colorectal or other cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.
But this is the first major study into how broccoli affects joint health.
Researchers found that when they fed sulforaphane to mice, they had significantly less cartilage damage and osteoarthritis compared to mice who did not eat the compound.
Roughly 27 million Americans live with osteoarthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Common risk factors for osteoarthritis include age, obesity, injury, overuse, genetics and muscle weakness. If it progresses, osteoarthritis can cause joint pain, stiffness, and soreness. Most treatment plans include one or more of the following options:
- Weight Control
- Physical Therapy
In extreme cases, surgery may be needed.
Researchers say they plan to conduct a small scale trial in osteoarthritis patients who are about to have knee replacement surgery to see if eating broccoli helps them. If the trial shows promise, they hope it will lead to a large scale clinical trial.
“This is an interesting study with promising results as it suggests that a common vegetable, broccoli, might have health benefits for people with osteoarthritis and even possibly protect people from developing the disease in the first place,” said Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK. “Until now, research has failed to show that food or diet can plan any part in reducing the progression of osteoarthritis, so if these findings can be replicated in humans, it would be quite a breakthrough.”
We know that exercise and keeping to a healthy weight can improve people’s symptoms and reduce the chances of the disease progressing, but this adds another layer in our understanding of how diet could play its part.”
Sources: American Cancer Society, Arthritis Foundation and University of East Anglia news release
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