Broccoli is a vegetable known for its high vitamin C content and dietary fiber. It is loaded with antioxidants and has anti-cancer properties. Scientists at the University of Reading have bred a new version of broccoli, which can help cut down blood LDL cholesterol levels by around 6%.
Elevated LDL cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. This broccoli variety contains two to three times more of a naturally occurring compound glucoraphanin which works by reducing how much LDL cholesterol our bodies make. It is now available in supermarkets, under the name Beneforte.
The high glucoraphanin Beneforte broccoli was developed using traditional breeding techniques at Institute of Food Research's (IFR) partners on the Norwich Research Park, the John Innes Center and the University of East Anglia, and Seminis Vegetable Seeds Inc.
In the human trials led by the IFR, the researchers gave 130 volunteers 400g of the high glucoraphanin broccoli per week to include in their normal diet. After 12 weeks, they saw the levels of LDL cholesterol in their blood drop by an average of about 6%. Although the reduction seen in these trials is small, at a population level, a 1% reduction in LDL cholesterol has been associated with a 1-2% reduction in risk of coronary artery disease.
Other foods that have been proven to lower LDL cholesterol are beta-glucans in oats and plant stanols that work by reducing cholesterol absorption into the body. Eating these foods together with high glucoraphanin broccoli is likely to have an additive effect.
The study is published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.