Vegetable Research Reveals More Cancer Resistant Properties in Broccoli

First Posted: Feb 20, 2014 04:28 PM EST

Broccoli has been known to possess anti-cancer properties through scientific studies. Researchers have found that the combination of two natural compounds can help prolong broccoli's shelf life and increase the presence of anti-cancer agents.

Broccoli is certainly healthy, but it is still unknown what individual compounds in the vegetable are responsible for reducing the risk of colorectal and other cancers. It is believed that broccoli's phytochemicals possess the anticancer properties. The cruciferous vegetable is highly recommended to be included in one's daily diet. The American Cancer Society provides plentiful information on the vegetable on their website.

Jack Juvik of the University of Illinois is a crop sciences researcher and conducted the study on broccoli that revealed the possibility of a prolonged shelf life and increased presence of anti-cancer agents for broccoli's post-harvest period.

"If we could figure out a way to prolong the appearance, taste, and flavor long after harvest and maintain the improved health-promoting properties, that's always of great interest to growers," said Juvik in this EurekAlert! article.

The study used a non-toxic, plant-signal compound called methyl jasmonate (MeJA) to increase anti-cancer agent productivity in the broccoli. But the natural plant compound was shown to cause faster decay in the broccoli, so the researchers had to figure out a way to add MeJA without that happening.

The team eventually used a compound called 1-methylcyclopropane (1-MCP), whose role is to interfere with receptor proteins that are sensitive to ethylene, which is a hormone that contributes to quickly decaying a plant. When 1-MCP was combined with MeJA in very small amounts, the compounds proved to work together to both increase the presence of cancer-fighting agents while prolonging the life of the broccoli.

Juvik believes that the use of these treatments could make a great impact on important global dilemmas such as food security issues and health-care costs, as stated in this EurekAlert! article. More on this study can be found in the article, which is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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