More proof the real superfood is plain old broccoli

Put the exotic berries and strange-smelling powders back on the shelf – the real superfood has been crowned and it’s the humble head of broccoli.

As well as being anti-ageing, a memory booster, full of fibre and stuffed with nutrients and vitamins, a new study has now found that it also protects your gut against intolerances, improving its health.

Published in the Journal of Functional Food, researchers examined the effects of broccoli on mice with digestive disorders similar to colitis, a long-term problem affecting more than 1.1 million people in the US. When supplemented with broccoli, the mice were better able to handle their digestive intolerances than mice who were fed a regular diet.

Scientifically speaking, the cruciferous vegetables activated the Ah receptor in the gut which helped “maintain gut homeostasis” – normal levels of activity or equilibrium.

This research is interesting, as cruciferous veggies — including broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts — are often warned against for people with colitis or Crohn’s due to the high amounts of fibre, which can lead to gas and stomach irritation. This research suggests that maybe we should be doing the opposite: more as opposed to less.

“Our results suggest that broccoli may be of preventative benefit in cases of heightened intestinal inflammation, such as Crohn’s disease and colitis,” said the authors.

But even if you don’t have these issues, broccoli can still protect your gut against harmful stimuli, such as a burst of bad eating or illness.

However, as study author Prof Gary Perdew points out, “Humans would need to eat about 3.5 cups of broccoli for the protective effect seen here.” Eat up!