The One Food “Superfood” Every Athlete Needs Broccoli

The One Food "Superfood" Every Athlete Needs to Eat for Dinner. Broccoli, antioxidant, reduces inflammation and protects DNA.

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The One Food “Superfood” Every Athlete Needs to Eat for Dinner – BROCCOLI

by: Robbie Durand

As a child, like many people, broccoli was not the vegetable you want to eat but once you realize the amazing benefits of eating broccoli, you will change your mind.  If your not eating this “superfood” everyday than you are missing out.   It’s no coincidence that more than 300 research studies on broccoli have converged in one unique area of health science – the development of cancer – and its relationship to three metabolic problems in the body. Those three problems are (1) chronic inflammation (2) oxidative stress, and (3) inadequate detoxification. The cruciferous family contains a number of essential nutrients found in only a few other foods. Besides glucoraphanin, these include indoles, glucosinolates, dithiolthiones, sulfoxides, isothiocyanates, sulforaphane and indole-carbinol.Broccoli is also a significant source of tocopherols, magnesium, selenium, thiamin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.

Broccoli,SuperfoodIn a number of laboratory studies, broccoli has been shown to be anti-carcinogenic as well as helpful for heart and cardiovascular disease.Researchers from Italy have recently determined that broccoli will cut inflammation within hours of eating it. And eating broccoli for just ten days will cut the body’s inflammation in more than half. Other studies find it prevents and repairs DNA damage and may even curb osteoarthritis. In 2010 researchers tested 27 young smokers who were otherwise healthy, and gave them either 250 grams of steamed broccoli per day or a control diet. In this study the researchers tested mRNA and DNA enzyme levels – which relate directly to the repair of DNA. They also measured DNA strand breaks within the blood. In this study, the researchers found that those eating the broccoli had 41% drop in strand breaks of DNA, and other changes in enzyme levels associated with DNA protection.

Broccoli,SuperfoodIn this 2014 study, researchers from Italy’s University of Milan fed 250 grams (one portion) of steamed broccoli to a group of ten young smokers. Then they tested the subjects three hours after the meal, six hours after the meal and 24 hours after. They found that the broccoli significantly increased their blood levels of vitamin C, beta-carotene and folate immediately. And within six hours, their glutathione S-transferase levels significantly increased. Glutathione S-transferase is an enzyme produced in the liver that clears toxins out of the blood and tissues. Then 24 hours after eating the broccoli, the researchers found that DNA damage due to free radicals was significantly reduced – by some 18% – in many of the subjects. In a related study, some of the same researchers from the University of Milan  gave 250 grams of broccoli to a group of young smokers for ten days. Before and after the study the researchers collected blood from the subjects and conducted an extensive analysis of the blood. They measured the subjects’ various immune cell status, including C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) levels, interleukin 6 (IL-6) and adiponectin. They also analyzed levels of folate and lutein in the blood. After the 10-day broccoli-enriched diet the subjects were re-tested and the researchers found that their CRP levels went down by 48%. This is a significant drop in CRP levels, indicating the smokers’ inflammatory levels went down by over a half. The researchers also found that circulating levels of lutein and folate went up as well. The drop in CRP levels was found independent of lutein and folate levels, and the researchers found that lycopene increases also accompanied a drop in IL6 levels – indicating a relationship between lycopene and inflammation factors – as other studies have confirmed. One way or another, broccoli is still one of the best vegetables to include with dinner.

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Riso P, Vendrame S, Del Bo’ C, Martini D, Martinetti A, Seregni E, Visioli F,  Parolini M, Porrini M. Effect of 10-day broccoli consumption on inflammatory status of young healthy smokers. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2014 Feb;65(1):106-11.

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