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Broccoli Eliminates H. Pylori, Protects Against Ulcers, Stomach Cancer

Broccoli Eliminates H. Pylori, Protects Against Ulcers, Stomach Cancer

Broccoli and broccoli sprouts contain a chemical called sulforaphane that kills helicobacter pylori, the bacteria responsible for peptic ulcers and most gastric cancers, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

In the U.S., approximately 50% of people over age 50 test positive for H. pylori, which does not always cause ulcers, but is now known to dramatically increase an individual's risk for often fatal stomach cancers, and to be a causative factor in a wide range of other stomach disorders including gastritis, esophagitis, and acid indigestion.

In the lab, scientists at Johns Hopkins found that sulforaphane effectively killed H. pylori regardless of whether it was inside or outside of stomach lining cells and even if it was a strain that had become resistant to commonly used antibiotics. In addition, even brief exposure to sulforaphane killed H. pylori inside human stomach lining cells.

Practical Tips

Raw broccoli is bursting with nutrients, but cooked broccoli is even better for you since lightly steaming or stir-frying helps to release its beneficial compounds.

Here are a few of the World's Healthiest Foods quick serving ideas to help you reap these protective benefits of broccoli:

  • Sprinkle lemon juice and sesame seeds over lightly steamed broccoli.
  • Purée cooked broccoli and cauliflower, then combine with seasonings of your choice to make a simple, yet delicious, soup.
  • For a quick and easy gratinée, top lightly steamed broccoli with grated cheese and broil for just a couple of minutes.

Want to learn more about the amazing health benefits of broccoli, truly one of the World's Healthiest Foods, just click broccoli.

For some exceptionally fast, exceptionally delicious recipes that will help you enjoy making broccoli a frequent contributor to your healthy way of eating, take a look at the World's Healthiest Foods' Recipes containing broccoli. Simply, click on the Recipe Assistant, select broccoli from the Healthy Foods List, and click on the Submit button. A list containing links to all our recipes containing broccoli will appear immediately below.

Research Summary

In laboratory tests, sulforaphane, killed 3 reference strains and 45 clinical isolates of H. pylori. A simple blood test can identify H. pylori infection, but eradication of the bacterium is difficult since it has developed resistance to commonly used antibiotics, and because it can hide out inside the cells that form the lining of the stomach where it remains safe from these medicines. Sulforaphane, however, was shown to kill h. pylori even if it was resistant to commonly used antibiotics, and regardless of whether the bacterium was inside or outside of stomach lining cells. Even brief exposure to sulforaphane was enough to kill H. pylori inside human stomach lining cells.

How much sulforaphane was needed for these beneficial effects? According to Jed Fahey, one of the lead researchers, "The levels at which we tested it ... are such that those could be achieved by eating broccoli or broccoli sprouts. It's a reasonable level that we think would be reached in the stomach."

Earlier studies with co-researcher Dr. Paul Talalay, reported in the World's Healthiest Foods' Latest News story, Broccoli Sprouts, Packed with Cancer-Protective Compounds, had demonstrated that sulforaphane protected mice exposed to a potent carcinogen from developing stomach tumors. This anti-cancer action resulted from sulforaphane's ability to trigger the activity of protective antioxidant enzymes in the liver that locked on to the carcinogens, changing them into a form in which they could be eliminated from the body.

Now, with this new study that has extended broccoli's benefits to the eradication of H. pylori, the researchers believe that "the dual actions of sulforaphane in inhibiting Helicobacter infections and blocking gastric tumor formation offer hope that these mechanisms might function synergistically to provide diet-based protection against gastric cancer in humans."

Broccoli and broccoli sprouts may be of tremendous benefit in Third World countries where H. pylori infection is rampant and antibiotics are too costly, scarce, and difficult to distribute. According to Fahey, a plant physiologist, "In some parts of Central and South America, Africa and Asia, as much as 80 to 90% of the population is infected with helicobacter, likely linked to poverty and conditions of poor sanitation ... people in some of these very poor areas, where it's almost impossible to even conceive of antibiotic therapy ... might, by a relatively minor change in diet, be able to heal themselves."

Fahey's advises Americans, "I feel quite comfortable suggesting people eat more fruits and vegetables, specifically cruciferous vegetables, specifically broccoli. We know it's safe and healthy ... we know sulforaphane is effective in protecting against cancers."

Reference: Fahey JW, Haristoy X, Dolan PM, Kensler TW, Scholtus I, Stephenson KK, Talalay P, Lozniewski A. Sulforaphane inhibits extracellular, intracellular, and antibiotic-resistant strains of Helicobacter pylori and prevents benzopyrene-induced stomach tumors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 2002 May 28;99(11):7610-7615.

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