Steamed broccoli could keep asthma symptoms at bay

broccoliDuring childhood our parents would always encourage us to eat our greens, and how we wouldn’t grow up to be big and strong without them!

The benefits of green vegetables may be bigger than we first thought however, after researchers discovered that not only can general health and development be boosted, but eating one or two cups of lightly steamed broccoli per day could act as a treatment for those suffering with asthma.

The study, led by a research team based at the University of Melbourne, showed how consuming vegetables from the cruciferous family — which also comprises of kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and bok choy — may help to reverse lung damage and protect against inflammation causing asthma symptoms. The key is the naturally occurring sulforaphane that is found in broccoli and the other green vegetables.

In Britain alone there are an estimated 5.4 million asthmatic, which includes 1.1 million children. However, the lung condition is rife in many parts of the world, with numerous factors linked to the development of it such as being exposed to tobacco smoke – especially if the mother was smoking during pregnancy – and a family history of asthma or other allergic conditions means you are more likely to get it.

Moreover, aspects of modern lifestyles are believed to play a role in an increased risk of asthma. A diet high in processed foods, living in an area with high air pollution and being raised in a home where there is a pet – especially a cat – are all believed to be contributing factors.

“In Australia, asthma affects one in ten people and it’s something that is on the rise,” said University of Melbourne honours student Nadia Mazarakis, who undertook research on the topic with supervisor Dr Tom Karagiannis.

“Laboratory tests have shown that consumption of broccoli changes the formation of the airway and may make clear breathing easier for those who suffer from asthma and allergies,” said Ms Mazarakis.

“Blockages in the airway were reversed almost entirely. Using broccoli to treat asthma may also help for people who don’t respond to traditional treatment.”

The findings come as there are increasing studies into healthcare that try to involved diet together with prescription medication treatments.

It has been stressed though that research is still in an early stage and at no point during an asthma attack or breathing difficulties should usual medical advice be disregarded. Basically, asthma inhalers are still a must!

Ms Mazarakis will be presenting the findings of the study at the 2014 Undergraduate Research Conference about Food Safety in Shanghai, China.

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