Broccoli may reduce the risk of stroke

Published 4 April 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Broccoli may also lower blood sugar and reduce the risk of cancer, according to previous studies.

Broccoli may contain compounds that both prevent and treat stroke, according to Australian research. Scientists believe a new treatment could be available within five years.

Stroke is often caused by the formation of a harmful blood clot in the brain, also known as acute ischemic stroke. The treatment commonly used for this type of stroke is a type of clot-busting drug (r-tPA), which is also designed to help slow the progression of brain damage.

– Unfortunately it is only successful in 20 per cent of cases, Dr. Xuyu (Johnny) Liu of the Heart Research Institute (HRI) in Australia said in a press release.

In the preclinical study, researchers spent three years looking at 23 different compounds found naturally in plants to see which ones would bind to the human compounds. And the compound that was found to work was sulforaphane.

– We are very excited at having isolated a natural compound that may have huge beneficial effects. Our studies will keep exploring how highly purified compounds from vegetables may have beneficial effects in disease processes, says Dr. Liu.

Stroke prevention?

Sulforaphane was able to partially prevent platelets from clumping together. It also prevented blood clots from forming under conditions similar to those found in our arteries. In experiments on mice, the researchers combined sulforaphane with r-tPA, the clot-busting drug, and found that the success rate was up to 60% higher than without the broccoli compound.

– Excitingly, this naturally occurring compound does not cause any signs of bleeding, which is a common side effect associated with blood-thinning agents tested in stroke treatment, says the researcher.

There is also evidence that the broccoli compound could prevent strokes, and Dr. Liu believes it could be used in the future.

– This means we could see paramedics treating ischaemic stroke patients with a broccoli-based medication as well as tPA on the way to hospital, he says.

Nature’s gifts

Broccoli is already known to be rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Previous studies have also shown that the vegetable, specifically the compound sulforaphane, can lower blood sugar and reduce the risk of cancer. The carotenoids found in broccoli are also thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and boost the immune system.

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As sulforaphane moves into clinical trials, it is believed that a new preventive and anticoagulant treatment for stroke could be available in as little as five years.

– We want to understand how nature is giving us gifts to improve our health, says Dr. Liu.