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Originally published August 4 2008

Eating Broccoli Reduces Risk of Heart Attack

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Eating raw or lightly cooked broccoli helps protect the heart against damage and maintain its healthy functioning, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Connecticut and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Researchers fed an extract of steamed broccoli to a group of rats for one month, then compared those rats to others that had been fed a standard diet. They found that the rats that had been fed the steamed broccoli extract had better heart function than those who had not. In addition, when all the rats were deprived of oxygen, those who had been fed steamed broccoli extract suffered less damage to their hearts and those who had been fed the standard diet.

The researchers observed that when the rats ate the broccoli extract, their body increased its production of several antioxidant proteins. Antioxidants are chemicals that remove free radicals from the body.

While free radicals play important roles in the body and are produced through normal processes such as eating and breathing, excessive levels can cause cell damage that leads to heart disease, cancer and the effects of aging.

"We are increasingly finding that 'redox proteins,' which counter the effects of oxidization, have an important role in the body's defense against heart disease," said researcher Dipak Das. "However, if broccoli is over-cooked it loses a lot of its protective effect."

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radish and Brussels sprouts are known to be high in antioxidants, and many studies have shown that increased consumption of these vegetables text against heart disease and cancer. Broccoli is known to contain a chemical called sulforaphane, which causes the body to produce heart-protecting proteins.

The researchers are now investigating whether the antioxidants contained in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli can also provide a protective benefit against other diseases.

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