Shoppers looking for heart-healthy vegetables are now able to choose a new variety of broccoli with increased levels of a key phytonutrient. The new broccoli, which will be known as BenefortÃ©, was developed from publicly-funded research at two of the UK´s world-leading biological research institutes, the Institute of Food Research (IFR) and the John Innes Centre.
Scientists at the two institutes are working to develop our understanding of what it is about broccoli that makes it a particularly healthy food.
BenefortÃ© was specially grown to help ward off heart disease by containing two to three times the normal amount of glucoraphanin which breaks fat down in the body, preventing it from clogging the arteries. It is only found in significant amounts in broccoli, reports the ASsociated Press (AP).
“Vegetables are a medicine cabinet already,” Richard Mithen told AP. Mithen led the team of scientists at the Institute for Food Research in Norwich, England, that developed the new broccoli. “When you eat this broccoli … you get a reduction in cholesterol in your blood stream.”
To create the “super broccoli,” Mithen and colleagues cross-bred a traditional British broccoli with a wild, bitter Sicilian variety that has no flowery head, and a big dose of glucoraphanin. The enhanced hybrid was produced after 14 years of hybridization, no genetic modification was used.
Vegetable producers have been seeking ways to inject extra nutrients into foods for some time. Calcium-enriched orange juice to fortified sugary cereals and milk with added omega 3 fatty acids are just some of the goals.
In Britain, BenefortÃ© is sold as part of a line of vegetables that includes mushrooms with extra vitamin D, and tomatoes and potatoes with added selenium.
Experts suggest that eating foods packed with extra nutrients would probably have only minimal impact compared with healthier lifestyle choices such as quitting smoking and increasing exercise.
Glenys Jones, a nutritionist at Britain´s Medical Research Council told AP’s Maria Cheng: “Eating this new broccoli is not going to counteract your bad habits.” She continues by expressing doubts whether adding the nutrients in broccoli to more popular foods would work to improve people´s overall health.
“If you added this to a burger, people might think it´s then a healthy food and eat more burgers, whereas this is not something they should be eating more of,” Jones said. She also thought the price of it, in the UK BenefortÃ© costs up to 30 percent more, might discourage penny-pinching customers.
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