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Eating Broccoli Reduces Risk Of Heart Attack

Aug 20, 2008
Broccoli has recently been found to reduce the risk of having a heart attack - which is excellent news for the millions of sufferers of heart disease worldwide, and expected to save thousands of lives every year. The broccoli must be raw or lightly cooked, by a method such as steaming, that preserves nutrients. The protective action comes from the antioxidant content in broccoli and other brassica vegetables - another reason for you to work on convincing your kids that broccoli really isn't all that bad!

The study was performed by University of Warwick researchers. The team fed an extract of steamed broccoli to rats for a period of a month, then compared the study rats to those on a standard diet. The rats who had the benefits of the broccoli extract had improved heart function, especially under heart-stressful situations such as depriving the heart of oxygen. The most common situation for the heart to be deprived of oxygen is when a heart attack occurs, so patients considered especially at risk can not only improve their general health and heart health by eating broccoli, they can also minimize the potential damage if a heart attack does occur.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death and admission to cardiac centers and hospital heart centers in the US, England, Canada and Wales. In the US alone, a person dies every 34 seconds as a result of heart disease. Conditions such a hypertension and hyperglycaemia often lead to hospitalization and visits to cardiac centers.

The broccoli actually stimulates the body to increase its own production of several antioxidant proteins. The study showed that eating broccoli is associated with up to a 73% reduction in reactive oxygen species, or free radicals. High levels of free radicals damage cells in all parts of the body, and hyperglycaemia, a condition in which blood sugar is unusually high, is known to triple reactive oxygen species levels. Even normal processes such as eating and breathing contribute to the formation of free radicals in the body, and the sulforaphane in broccoli helps fight these agents, reducing the need for cardiac surgery. The researchers noted, however, that if broccoli is overcooked it loses much of its protective effect.

Broccoli is a member of the brassica family of vegetables, also known as cruciferous vegetables. Other members of the family include cauliflower, cabbage, radish and brussel sprouts. Most of these vegetables have quite a spicy flavour, and aren't popular in the diet until later in life. However, the earlier that patients begin eating these vegetables, the greater their protective effect. Only broccoli is known to contain the sulforaphane which is so effective against excessive free radical levels.

The health benefits of broccoli have long been of interest to researchers, with findings like broccoli being more effective than sunscreen at protecting the skin from sun-induced cancer, an extract of broccoli sprouts protecting against bladder cancer, and phytonutrients contained in the famed vegetable being able to prevent the spread of ovarian and breast cancer, all being made in recent times.

Hospitals that combine research facilities with patient care have been glad to learn the news; it means that hospital heart centers and cardiac surgery providers can help their patients care for themselves more effectively after discharge.
About the Author
Bangkok Hospital - 36 years of advanced medical technology and expertise, complemented with Thai hospitality and compassionate care. Includes the world-renowned Bangkok Heart Hospital and specializing in oncology, neurology and orthopedics. Some of the worlds most advanced minimally invasive diagnostics and treatment procedures are in place.
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