Broccoli for food and health – research and challenges

M.T. López-Chillón, N. Baenas, D. Villaño, P. Zafrilla, C. García-Viguera, D.A. Moreno
Nowadays, society accepts the direct relationship between foods and health. In this sense, fruits and vegetables are the major components in balanced diets, particularly for their implications in the prevention of certain conditions and types of cancer and chronic diseases. Broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var. italica), is a cruciferous food very rich in glucosinolates (GLS) and their bioactive hydrolysis products, the isothiocyanates (ITC), which may exert beneficial biological activities against different conditions through protection against inflammation and oxidative stress in the cells, slowing or preventing a number of cancers and other diseases, such as cardiovascular or neurodegenerative. Broccoli inflorescences and sprouts are the main dietary sources of glucoraphanin (GR), precursor GLS of sulphoraphane (SFN), widely studied in different pathological conditions. Current research includes multidisciplinary work integrating the food chain, such as the evaluation of the pre- and post-harvest factors affecting the phytochemical composition of foods, adding value to agro-waste by elaboration of new ingredients for culinary applications, and enriching natural foods in bioactive phytochemicals using sustainable practices. The evaluation of the bioavailability and metabolism of GLS/ITC is one of several challenges in the design of clinical studies to assess the potential health-benefits of crucifers related to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and chemopreventive effects. An in vivo study and randomized design was performed in 40 healthy overweight subjects consuming broccoli sprouts (20-25 g day-1) during 10 weeks. Anthropometric parameters as fat mass, weight, BMI and biochemical parameters (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL) were determined. Inflammation status was assessed by measuring levels of TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β and C-reactive protein. Total cholesterol, IL-6 and C-reactive protein significantly decreased. No significant differences were observed in TNF-α values. Obesity is considered a low-inflammatory condition and an early stage of pathologies with an inflammatory component. This study represents an advance in intervention studies because we include the broccoli sprouts in the daily dietary pattern in not excessive doses but quantities that reflect a real consumption. Higher changes on lipid profile and inflammation parameters may need longer periods of intake. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the role of this healthy rich and nutritious food, but these promising results support the current evidence on the healthy properties of Brassica varieties.
López-Chillón, M.T., Baenas, N., Villaño, D., Zafrilla, P., García-Viguera, C. and Moreno, D.A. (2018). Broccoli for food and health – research and challenges. Acta Hortic. 1202, 121-126
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1202.18
Brassicaceae, glucoraphanin, functional food, inflammation, health

Acta Horticulturae