Sulforaphane-rich vegetables may lower ‘bad’ cholesterol by 40%

This Morning's Dr Chris discusses the signs of high cholesterol

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High levels of “bad” cholesterol in your blood is one of the common causes of stroke and heart disease. But getting your cholesterol levels out of the danger zone can be tricky. It often requires medication, the reluctant removal of some bad habits, or even a major lifestyle overhaul. There are few things that can make your efforts easier, such as eating sulforaphane. The sulfur-rich compound, which is found in many leafy green vegetables can bring about a “signifcant” drop in your “bad” cholesterol levels.

Broccoli is one of a few foods that is dense in sulforaphane, making it a great addition to an anti-cholesterol diet.

In 2016, a study published in Experimental Biology and Medicine found that sulforaphane – found in broccoli – can cause a massive drop in LDL cholesterol levels in your blood.

The researchers from Mansoura University in Egypt split a group of rabbits into three groups. One that was fed normal “chow”, the second was fed a high cholesterol diet, while the last received a high cholesterol diet as well as sulforaphane supplements.

The feeding went on for four weeks. After this time, it was noted that the rabbits given sulforaphane had a 40 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol in their blood compared to the rabbits just fed high cholesterol substances.

The researchers also spotted a 70 point drop in triglyceride levels.

Triglycerides are another type of blood fat, and are a primary source of energy but too much of them can also bump up the risk of heart disease.

According to the Cholesterol charity Heart UK, “high triglycerides are known to contribute to the risk of heart disease and other diseases of the heart and blood vessels, and very high triglyceride levels can cause serious medical conditions such as pancreatitis”.

The researchers also spotted that sulforaphane had the effect of improving the function of the rabbits’ blood vessels. It also reduced the signs of inflammation in the rabbits’ blood vessels.

The main limitation of the study was that it was on rabbits rather than humans.

The signs are encouraging, however. A more recent study, published in the European Heart Journal, found that roughly one apple and a large serving of broccoli each day could slash your risk of stroke by 13 percent.

The authors told The Times the results were likely due to the foods’ cholesterol lowering properties. There are past studies supporting the author’s claim.

Read more: Dyschezia could signal spreading tumour of bowel cancer – sign that strikes on loo

Why is broccoli so beneficial?

Broccoli is considered to be a superfood, and there’s no surprise there. The food has several other benefits.

It also contains lutein – a substance known to improve eye health.

Sharon Copeland, an optician at Feel Good Contacts said: “Eating foods that contain lutein will help improve your eye health and lower your risk of getting an eye disease.“

Foods containing lutein include kale, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin, carrots and pistachios.

“Alternatively, you could try taking a lutein supplement, but getting the vitamin through your food is the most effective way.”

But there’s also been research to suggest that the way you cook broccoli has a significant impact on the benefits you’ll get from the vegetable.

According to one study, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli should be cut up, chopped, or chewed to release the enzymes necessary to activate the effect of sulforaphane.

One study also found that raw broccoli is better. It found that raw broccoli contains ten times more sulforaphane than cooked broccoli.

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