You don’t have to look far to find information on foods and herbs that have detoxifying properties. And while many of them may be effective, few of these claims have been put to the test in a lab. Broccoli is one vegetable that has been tested and passed with flying colors, indicating it can help rid the body of potentially harmful toxins and help detoxify the body as a whole.
Published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, a recent study indicates there is something in broccoli (and it’s sprouts) that can “rapidly” and “sustainably” detox airborne pollutants from the body.
Researchers enlisted 291 study participants from the Qidong area of China, where there are high levels of air pollution. For 12 weeks, one group of participants drank about a half-cup of broccoli sprout-derived beverage daily while another group received a placebo.
“We thought the pathway might respond initially, and then the [compounds] would wear out their welcome and the body would tune out,” Thomas Kensler, a researcher at both Johns Hopkins and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and an author of the study said. “But the effect was just as vigorous at the beginning as at the end, which suggests that over one’s lifetime, you could enhance this preventative activity in the body [with food].”
The researchers analyzed urine samples taken before and during the study and found rapid and statistically significant increases in the detoxification of two pollutants, benzene and acrolein, among those taking the broccoli beverage. No such changes were seen in the control group.
“Air pollution is a complex and pervasive public health problem,” said study co-author John Groopman, professor of environmental health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “To address this problem comprehensively, in addition to the engineering solutions to reduce regional pollution emissions, we need to translate our basic science into strategies to protect individuals from these exposures. This study supports the development of food-based strategies as part of this overall prevention effort.”
Diets rich in vegetables including broccoli have long been known to reduce the risks of chronic diseases including cancer. Part of that benefit is believed to come from sulforaphane, a compound that bolsters the body’s ability to rid itself of toxins.
“This study points to a frugal, simple and safe means that can be taken by individuals to possibly reduce some of the long-term health risks associated with air pollution,” said co-author Thomas Kensler. “This while government leaders and policy makers define and implement more effective regulatory policies to improve air quality.”
In regions such as the Qidong area, where lung cancer rates have tripled in the last 40 years, simple supplementation with broccoli extracts could serve to help keep carcinogen levels down in the body. Of course, it’s no surprise that broccoli is one of many foods that help you detox.