If you’re looking to turn back the hands of time, look no further than broccoli. Love it or hate it, this common cruciferous veggie contains a natural compound called nicotinamide mononucleotide, which has been shown to have a potent anti-aging effect on mice that “could be translated to humans.” 
A team of researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis write in Cell Metabolism that nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) made the cells of lab mice act younger than they were when it was added to the rodents’ drinking water. NMN is an enzyme that plays a key role in energy metabolism, and it’s found in broccoli.
NMN boosted the mice’s metabolism. They gained less age-related weight, improved their eyesight, and improved their blood sugar levels. The mice even avoided some of the genetic changes associated with aging.
The study didn’t track how long the furry little critters survived, but at least they lived their lives healthily. One can only assume they outlived mice that weren’t given NMN.
If your knee-jerk reaction to broccoli is to dry-heave, fear not: NMN is also found in other vegetables, including cucumbers, cabbage, and edamame.
Nicotinamide Mononucleotide Could Benefit Humans Too
What’s more, the benefits associated with the enzyme likely apply to humans, according to Dr. Shin-Ichiro Imai, professor of developmental biology and medicine at Washington University and senior author of the paper.
In fact, Imai is so encouraged by the results that he’s launching an early study on people, using NMN supplements in pill form.
“If you do the math, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible entirely but probably very difficult to get the whole amount [you need] simply from natural foods.
It’s clear that in humans and in rodents, we lose energy with age. We are losing the enzyme NMN. But if we can bypass that process by adding NMN, we can make energy again. These results provide a very important foundation for the human studies.” 
Related: Could Broccoli Protect Against Radiation Sickness?
Other Reasons to Make Friends with Broccoli
If you’re not overly concerned about drinking from (or nibbling on) the fountain of youth, there are plenty of other reasons to chow down on broccoli. For example, broccoli’s ability to lower blood sugar makes it a great food option for people who have diabetes.
Broccoli has also been shown to cut the risk of cardiovascular disease and promote heart health by preventing inflammation and atherosclerosis in the arteries. Additionally, research has found that broccoli has the ability to help to prevent cancer, including leukemia.
It’s worth throwing a handful of broccoli (and therefore nicotinamide mononucleotide) on your salad, or, if that idea turns you off, pulverize some into a hearty soup!