Mom was right, eat your broccoli!
We get a little suspicious when we hear the claims that it's possible to get rid of the gunk that accumulates in our cells by doing a cleanse with "clean" foods.
But what if some foods actually do help detox the body?
The results of a recent clinical trial suggest that compounds in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli (and kale) prod cells to get rid of certain air pollutants. The intriguing randomized control trial of about 300 Chinese adults found that consuming a beverage made with broccoli sprouts every day for three months lead to high rates of excretion (in urine) of two harmful chemicals: benzene and acrolein.
Now, benzene and acrolein are pretty common. If you're pumping gas at a gas station, you'll breath in a little benzene, and if you're smoking or around smokers, you'll take in acrolein (and some benzene, too). If you live in a place with heavy pollution, you may get a big enough dose of benzene to make you sick — though that can be tough to prove.
Lately, scientists have been zeroing in on a compound called glucoraphanin that seems to have a protective effect against these and other toxins.
Animal model studies have shown that when vegetables containing glucoraphanin are chewed or swallowed, another compound called sulforaphane appears on the scene and kicks enzymes into action to take up pollutants and clear them from the body in urine. In other words, sulforaphane seems to act like fuel for the body's own trash collection and disposal services.
Young girl and broccoli image via Shutterstock.
Read more at NPR.