Score another point for broccoli? Broccoli for liver health and cancer prevention?

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Fans of the hit TV show “Seinfeld” might remember broccoli as the vegetable Newman famously referred to as that “vile weed”.

Sadly, that is not an uncommon sentiment.

Broccoli is often an acquired taste that many of us don’t begin to appreciate until we are adults. It also tends to need some dressing up to make it taste better (see broccoli with a little lemon juice).

But there may be few foods that are more worthy of inclusion in our diets than broccoli.

Many people have long touted broccoli’s potential in cancer prevention through one of its main constituents, sulforaphane, which is found in all cruciferous vegetables though most prominently in broccoli sprouts.

But do any potential chemopreventive effects of regular broccoli extend to liver cancer, and is there evidence of any protective effect on the non-cancerous liver itself?

Researchers from the University of Illinois set out to determine if mice fed a Western diet with freeze dried broccoli experienced any liver-protective effects, both in terms of the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (which may progress to cancer) as well as liver cancer.

(As always, this article is not written in support of animal testing, but rather for information purposes only. does not support animal testing.)

The researchers fed mice either a control diet or a Western-style diet, with or without freeze-dried broccoli.

What were the results?

Published in The Journal of Nutrition, they found that those mice who ate the Western-style diet without the broccoli experienced liver damage and increased hepatic triglyceride (HTG), while those who did eat the broccoli were protected from those effects.

(An increase in HTG could lead to the development on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.)

Those mice who consumed broccoli also saw decreased expression of hepatic Cd36, which also indicates the possible prevention of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Additionally, they found that the mice who consumed broccoli daily saw a suppression of hepatic macrophages, which indicates possible prevention of the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Those already are a lot of mechanisms preventing liver disease.

The researchers state in their discussion:

“In this study, daily consumption of broccoli was able to suppress the activation of hepatic macrophages, decrease liver damage, and protect against the initiation and progression of liver tumorigenesis. Broccoli promoted liver health and countered NAFLD development. In this age during which obesity is such a problem, including broccoli in the diet may have substantial public health implications for maintenance of a healthy liver, particularly in those who are greatly overweight.”

So, even if you think of broccoli as a “vile weed”, there may be some health benefits that outweigh the desires of your finicky taste buds.

Of course, the information presented here is presented for informational purposes only. Please speak to your licensed healthcare practitioner before making any changes to your diet, lifestyle, or health treatment protocol(s). Let them know about this study and see if there is anything you should take from it or could benefit from.

And in the meantime, all the best in your pursuit of great!


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