Brassica Growers Conference 2010: Institute of Food Research studies highlight greens' 'superfood' credentials

Research carried out at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich and by scientists across the globe is helping to prove that brassicas really do have "superfood" qualities.

The institute's Professor Richard Mithen, speaking at this year's Brassica Growers Conference in Lincoln, said there is already good evidence that consuming more than one brassica portion a week can help fight prostrate cancer as results show a 45% reduction in localised regions developing.

Mithen added that research also shows that brassicas can help also help fight lung cancer. He said: "The body breaks the foods down into glucosinolates. They are very potent chemicals. We think these compounds are largely responsible for the health benefits of brassicas.

"If you put this compound on damaged prostrate cells they selectively kill cells which might turn into cancerous growths."

A project at Norwich has been looking at enhancing glucosinolates by marker-assisted breeding.

Mithen said: "We started with a wild plant and crossed it with broccoli lines.

"The flavours seemed to be better-tasting than we expected. What I think has happened is that we have not increased the sulphur — it's the same, we have just redistributed it. What I hope we will find is [how to] enhance health and flavour."

He added: "It's a challenge for the industry to channel our work into a message the public can understand. The message we have to get across to consumers is that they have a complete package of nutrients — all of which do you good."


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