Researchers believe they have identified a compound that not only slows the progression of osteoarthritis, but may even protect against it. Osteoarthritis affects millions of adults in the United States alone. Its symptoms range from mild stiffness in the morning to complete lack of mobility. It is a progressive disease that tends to worsen over time.
Sulforaphane is a phytochemical found in many cruciferous vegetables. It is found in the highest concentrations in broccoli. This compound already gets high marks for being anti-inflammatory and fighting cancer. Now, a research study led by scientists at the University of East Anglia has shown that mice that were fed sulforaphane had less damage to cartilage than mice that had not ingested sulforaphane. Sulforaphane was also tested on human cells with a similar result. This finding leads researchers to theorize that sulforaphane confers protection to joints by blocking the chemicals responsible for degrading cartilage.
For people suffering from the pain and debilitation of osteoarthritis, this could be a simple dietary addition that will protect them from further cartilage damage. For those people who do not yet have osteoarthritis, sulforaphane could ensure they never get it. This is good news for all of us since, as The Arthritis Foundation points out: “Despite the prevalence of the disease, the causes of osteoarthritis are not completely understood. There is no cure.”
How best to take advantage of the protective quality of sulforaphane? Cooking broccoli in large amounts of water decreases the amount of the compound available for absorption by the body. Broccoli eaten raw is best, but if raw is not appealing, use as little water as possible in the cooking process. For example, steaming would be preferable to boiling.
Want to supercharge your aching joints with sulforaphane? Try broccoli sprouts. Broccoli sprouts have a much higher concentration of sulforaphane. Sprouts can be sprinkled on a salad or added to a stir fry or a green smoothie. Sprouts are the perfect choice for individuals who are not fans of the taste of broccoli. A small amount of broccoli sprouts can deliver big sulforaphane benefits.
George Bush, Sr. once said he didn’t like broccoli, but perhaps that was because he didn’t know that sulforaphane is anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and now, anti-osteoarthritis.
Rose K Davidson, Orla Jupp, Rachel de Ferrars, Colin D Kay, Kirsty L Culley, Rosemary Norton, Clare Driscoll, Tonia L Vincent, Simon T Donell, Yongping Bao, Ian M Clark. “Sulforaphane represses matrix-degrading proteases and protects cartilage from destruction in vitro and in vivo.” Arthritis & Rheumatism, 2013, Web 30 Sept. 2013.
University of East Anglia. “Broccoli could be key in the fight against osteoarthritis.” Science Daily, 27 Aug. 2013. Web 30 Sept. 2013.
“Who Gets Osteoarthritis?”The Arthritis Foundation, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2013.