Beneforte broccoli, or ‘super broccoli’, is a type of broccoli that has been bred to increase glucoraphanin levels by three times.
Glucoraphanin naturally occurs in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower.
Several studies have shown that diets rich in cruciferous vegetables help lower the risk of cancer and heart disease.
A recent study suggests that super broccoli can lower levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol by 6 percent.
To test the effect of super broccoli, researchers gave participants either 400g of standard broccoli or super broccoli weekly for a period of three months.
These volunteers were not on any dietary restrictions and they just added the vegetable to their normal diet for 12 weeks.
After three months, the blood LDL cholesterol levels or the “bad” cholesterol was decreased 6 percent on average.
High LDL levels are a heart disease risk factor as it can result in buildup of cholesterol in the arteries.
Despite the small but significant reduction of LDL in this study, in reality, even a 1 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol has been shown to lower the risk of coronary artery disease by 2 percent.
Glucoraphanin helps our body to improve cellular metabolism, where sugar, protein and fat is converted into energy.
If this process doesn’t work properly, then the food that we eat turns to lots of fat or sugar, leading to elevated blood cholesterol levels.
Our body converts glucoraphanin to an active compound called sulphoraphane that activate the specific genes known as ‘antioxidant’ genes.
These genes, as part of our immune system, can protect our body from many diseases and environmental toxins.
They also stimulate our bodies’ defences to adjust the metabolism and reduce LDL cholesterol production.
In addition to cruciferous vegetables, plant sterols or stanols and beta-glucans in oats have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, therefore eating these foods regularly could indeed benefit heart health.
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research (Armah et al., 2015).