15 November 2013

Eat Your Broccoli!

Welcome back. If you surfed by this blog about a year ago, you might have seen my post, Fast Food Dining. Don’t bother clicking on the hyperlinked title now. I just wanted you to see the photo of my daily dine-at-home lunch, and I’ve borrowed it for today’s release.
Warren’s typical lunch (photo from
Fast Food Dining)

See the broccoli? I always have broccoli florets or stems or both. Though a few drops of olive oil and vinegar would be good, my salads go naked. It’s an acquired near-tasteless taste, like the cold cereals I eat that people tell me, Oooh, they taste like cardboard--which I’ve yet to sample for comparison, thank you.

Anyway, here’s where I’m going with this. Add dressing if you must, but eat your broccoli. This isn’t your mother or me nagging; it’s the research.

Broccoli and Radiation

Actually, the latest story isn’t about broccoli per se; it’s about a compound, 3,3'-diindolylmethane or “DIM,” found in all cruciferous vegetables--broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and the rest.

Investigators at Georgetown University found that giving test rats a multi-dose schedule of DIM protected the rats from a lethal exposure to total body gamma radiation. DIM was an effective countermeasure whether it was given before or up to 24 hours after the irradiation.

The researchers also found that, while DIM protected the rats--i.e., healthy cells--from radiation, it did not protect human breast cancer tumors that had been grafted onto mice for testing.

Follow-up studies are seeking to determine if DIM can successfully treat humans exposed to radiation as well as if DIM can reduce the side effects of radiation therapy for cancer by protecting healthy cells.

Broccoli Sprouts

You’re thinking, That’s impressive, but I don’t like broccoli and, fortunately, I don’t have cancer. Am I supposed to eat broccoli instead of scrambling to our underground bunker?

No, of course, not; keep your bunker stocked. I only reached for the latest news about broccoli. Wikipedia notes that there are over 700 research studies on just the cancer-preventive properties of cruciferous vegetables and sulforaphane.

Oh, sorry, sulforaphane. That’s another compound that has shown anti-cancer properties. Sulforaphane is obtained from still another compound, glucoraphanin, found in cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli sprouts.
Broccoli sprouts (photo from
Broccoli sprouts are young, 3 to 5 day old broccoli plants. While broccoli and its sprouts are both loaded with nutrition, the sprouts offer 20 to 50 times more compounds like sulforaphane than the mature broccoli plants.

Notable research findings with broccoli sprouts are in combating the skin cancer-causing effects of ultraviolet radiation. These studies, chiefly by investigators at Johns Hopkins University, aren’t new, and they’ve led people to put broccoli sprouts on their food or a sprout extract on their body.

Wrap Up

You may have to go online or to a health food store to find broccoli sprouts, or you can grow your own. It’s not uncommon to do that in your kitchen. And if your mother’s still around, you can point to the sprouts you’ve bought or grown and say, Mom, that’s what I eat instead of broccoli. It probably won’t help.

Thanks for stopping by.


- Paper on DIM and radiation in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
- Example articles on DIM and radiation paper:
- Johns Hopkins University write up on broccoli sprouts research and later paper from Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences Journal:
- Example guides to growing broccoli sprouts:


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- Write about a goal that you, someone close to you or your pet accomplished or failed to accomplish – see Goal-Setting Writing Contest (Deadline 18 Nov 2013) Win a limited edition blogger mug!

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