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A new study says upping your broccoli intake by just a few servings a week is all it takes to fight cancer.
Stopping cancer in its tracks
"Everybody says eat your vegetables, but nobody can tell us why," says Richard Mitten, a biologist at Britain's Institute of Food Research. "Our study shows why vegetables are good."
A specific chemical found in the green veggie is the cancer-fighting key. According to Mitten, this wonder chemical sparks hundreds of genetic changes, activating some genes that fight cancer and switching off others that fuel tumours.
"When people get cancer some genes are switched off and some are switched on," Mitten says. "What broccoli seems to be doing is switching on the genes that prevent cancer developing and switching off other ones that help it spread."
Broccoli is best
While the researchers noted that other cruciferous vegetables that contain the compound isothiocyanate, such as brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, rocket, watercress and horseradish, would also be beneficial, broccoli also contains another stand-alone ingredient, the compound sulforaphane. And it's this compound that researchers believe gives broccoli its potent cancer-fighting kick.
Go back for seconds
While the focus of this study was primarily on prostate cancer, researchers say it's likely that these vegetables will also work in the same way in other parts of the body, and are more than likely capable of fighting a range of other cancers.
And the best bit — according to Mitten just a little bit of the healthy green stuff will have big benefits. "You don't need a huge change in your diet," he says. "Just a few more portions makes a big difference."