Broccoli is known for its anticancer properties but it could also boost the immune system in older people and slow down the effects of ageing, according to new research.
A chemical found in cruciferous vegetables called sulforaphane was found to activate a number of antioxidant genes and enzymes in immune cells. These prevent free radicals from damaging cells.
Free radicals are byproducts of normal body processes, such as the conversion of food into energy. They are a supercharged form of oxygen, which can cause oxidative tissue damage leading to disease - for example, triggering the inflammation process that causes clogged arteries. Oxidative damage to body tissues and organs is thought to be one of the major causes of ageing.
"The mysteries of ageing have always intrigued man," wrote chief author Dr Andre Nel, from UCLA in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
"While we have known for some time that free radicals are important in ageing, most of the past attention has focused on the mechanisms that produce free radicals rather than addressing the pathways used by the body to suppress their production. Our study contributes to the growing understanding of the importance of these antioxidant defence pathways that the body uses to fight free radicals," said Dr Nel.
Source - Daily Mail