June 29/London/Daily Mail -- Broccoli could hold the key to beating Alzheimer’s. Scientists believe that a chemical derived from the vegetable could help keep the brain sharp into old age. They hope that sulforaphane, which is also made in the body from a compound found in rocket, Brussels sprouts and cabbages, will kick-start the body’s natural defenses. This will protect vital brain cells from being attacked and destroyed by free radicals -- dangerous oxygen molecules produced when food is turned into energy. Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, can “mop up” the attackers but are of limited use in the brain.

The Dundee University scientists believe the answer could lie in harnessing the body’s own protective, or anti-oxidant, mechanisms -- which can be kick-started by sulforaphane. It is hoped that chemical, which is made when green vegetables are consumed, will succeed where other approaches have failed.

They believe that taking the chemical in pill form is likely to be more beneficial than simply eating bowl after bowl of broccoli. This is because not everyone makes the same amount of sulforaphane, with some people making 10 times less than other despite eating the same amount of greens. One of the researchers noted, “For some people, eating large amounts of broccoli may have the biological effects we are looking for, but for many people, it won’t.” The two-year study aims to see whether the chemical slows, or even halts, the progression of Alzheimer’s in mice genetically engineered to develop the disease.

The preliminary nature of the work means that even if it is successful, any sulforaphane-based drug is at least a decade from the market. Similar drugs could also help tackle Parkinson’s disease, stroke and even cancer.

 

From the June 29, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.