Maisy Docherty, 4, tucks into her greens. Picture: Kristi Miller Source: The Daily Telegraph
IT turns out that mum was right – you really should eat your greens. Numerous studies have found cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage contain cancer-fighting nutrients.
But in a further breakthrough, researchers from Oregon State University in the US have uncovered how green vegetables fight disease in a new study published in the Clinical Epigenetics journal.
They found a key component of broccoli sprouts – sulforaphane – helps suppress breast cancer proliferation and growth, particularly by working through a mechanism called DNA methylation.
Linus Pauling Institute associate professor Emily Ho said this process “turns off genes” and helps control what DNA material gets read as part of genetic communication within cells. This process gets mixed up in cancer sufferers.
She said young sprouts contain more than 50 times the sulforaphane contained in mature broccoli.
“It appears that DNA methylation and HDAC inhibition, both of which can be influenced by sulforaphane, work in concert with each other to maintain proper cell function,” she said. “They sort of work as partners and talk to each other.”
But it’s not just green veg that can fight disease.
Ginger could have the power to help manage high blood sugar levels which create complications for long-term diabetic patients, according to a University of Sydney study published this month in the Planta Medica journal.
Pharmaceutical Chemistry professor Basil Roufogalis said cells could operate independently of insulin with extracts from an Australian-grown ginger that could increase the uptake of glucose into muscle cells.
“It is hoped that these promising results for managing blood glucose levels can be examined further in human clinical trials,” he said.
Swisse dietitian Simone Austin said people should be eating up to five serves of fresh vegetables a day.
“Eating more vegetables helps reduce the risk of disease in general because it prevents cells from going wrong, and that’s what cancer is,” she said. “Minimal cooking is best because lots of vitamins, such as Vitamin C and folate, are destroyed by heat.”
Bruce Docherty said his children Maisy, 4, and Jonah, 2, eat several serves of vegetables every day.
“Maisy is fussy but if we cut it up and hide it she will eat it,” Mr Docherty, from Caringbah, said.
“She knows that fruit and vegetables are good for you and keep you strong. She always asks if carrots will help her see in the dark.”