We are often told of the importance of eating fruit and vegetables, and now scientists at the University of East Anglia have found even more reason for us to do so.
New research suggests a compound found in broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts could help prevent the most common form of arthritis. They say the sulforaphane compound can slow down the destruction of cartilage in joints, a symptom associated with painful and often debilitating osteoarthritis.
– Professor Ian Clark, UEA
The results from this study are very promising. We have shown that this works in the three laboratory models we have tried, in cartilage cells, tissue and mice. We now want to show this works in humans. It would be very powerful if we could.
As well as treating those who already have the condition, you need to be able to tell healthy people how to protect their joints into the future.
More than 8.5 million people in the UK have osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease affecting the hands, feet, spine, hips and knees.
The study was funded by medical research charity Arthritis Research UK, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council's Diet and Health Research Industry Club and The Dunhill Medical Trust.
Previous research has suggested that sulforaphane has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, but this is the first major study into its effects on joint health.
– Alan Silman, Medical Director, Arthritis Research UK
This is an interesting study with promising results as it suggests that a common vegetable, broccoli, might have health benefits for people with osteoarthritis and even possibly protect people from developing the disease in the first place.
Until now research has failed to show that food or diet can play any part in reducing the progression of osteoarthritis, so if these findings can be replicated in humans, it would be quite a breakthrough.