According to a team of researchers from the University of East Anglia in the U.K., a compound found in broccoli called glucoraphanin may be able to halt the destruction of cartilage associated with osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease affecting the knees, hands, feet, spine and hips. In the body, the compound — which is also found in Brussels sprouts and cabbage — converts to sulforaphane, which protects joints by blocking a key destructive enzyme that damages cartilage.
Researchers have completed two phases of the three-part study, testing the compound found in broccoli on cartilage cells and tissue and on mice. Both phases have yielded promising results.
Ian Clark, professor of musculoskeletal biology said, "We now want to show this works in humans. It would be very powerful if we could. As well as treating those who already have the condition, you need to be able to tell healthy people how to protect their joints into the future."
For the human phase of the study, researchers are testing 40 patients who are about to undergo knee replacement surgery to repair knees damaged by arthritis. Half of the participants will be asked to eat one 3.5 ounce serving of broccoli (about a handful) every day for two weeks prior to the surgery while the remaining half will follow their normal diet. At the time of the surgery, researchers will examine the cartilage tissue in their knees to see what effect, if any, the broccoli has had. Researchers are hoping that they will find that the sulforaphane has traveled to where it is needed in the knee joint and that it is causing beneficial changes at the cellular level.
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