Health, Medical and Clinical benefits of Brassica consumptionprepared by Graham King, Guy Barker HRI-Wellesbourne. Nov 2003 (re formatted Jan 2008)
- Cardiovascular disease and cancer are ranked as the leading causes of death in most industrialised countries.
- Epidemiological studies1 demonstrate that increased fruit and vegetable intake decrease the risk of cancer and heart disease2,3
- Brassica vegetables appear to be especially protective against cancer and heart disease4,5,6
- Relevant to Department of Health and MRC research strategies7
- Mechanisms not fully understood, but likely due to secondary metabolites. e.g. - flavanoids and other phenolic compounds, acting as antioxidants
- glucosinolates and other sulphur containing metabolites acting as anticancer agents due to their ability to induce detoxification enzymes in mammalian cells and to reduce the rate of tumour development.
- These vegetables are also known to be beneficial in the prevention of other major illnesses such as Alzheimers, cataracts, and some of the functional declines associated with ageing8
- In humans, plant secondary products have complementary and overlapping actions, including antioxidant effects, modulation of detoxification enzymes, stimulation of the immune system, reduction of inflammation, modulation of steroid metabolism, and antibacterial and antiviral effects.
- Most studies show that phytochemicals in Brassica plants up-regulate many detoxification enzyme systems in the animal that consumes them5
- It is important in dietary studies to quantify the 'metabolic profile' of the food, as opposed to just the metabolite of particular interest
Brassica products in Human Health:
- Many of our familiar vegetables (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and kohl rabi) are members of the plant species Brassica oleracea. Oilseed rape (Canola) is Brassica napus.
- Considerable genetic variation underlies products derived from plant cell biochemistry, which in turn affects the nutrients we ingest. In vegetable brassicas, levels of vitamins A, C and E, folate and potassium are notably high.
|Specific plant product||Information relating to Brassica||Relevance to Human Health||Refs|
|Isothiocyanates||Underlying genetic variation has led these vegetables to produce higher amounts of particular compounds than do other plants in our diet.||Particularly strong evidence obtained for the reduction in the risk of cancer of the gastro-intestinal tract and lung||9, 10|
|>20 independent dietary epidemiological studies have provided evidence that Brassica consumption reduces risk of cancer.|
|As well as genetic differences between any particular brassica variety grown, the amounts of beneficial compounds entering our bloodstream from vegetables are affected.||Considerable effort at understanding and manipulation levels and metabolic pathways leading to delivery of brassica-specific anti-carcinogenic compounds in diet.||11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 1|
|The genes in brassicas uniquely enable the production of a particular class of biochemicals (glucosinolates) which break down to compounds (isothiocyanates such as sulphoraphane) known to provide some protection against a range of human cancers||Isothyocyanates are modulators of Phase 1 and 2 enzyme activity|
|Isothiocyanates neutralise cancer-causing chemicals that damage cells, and by interfering with tumour growth.||Protective effect of Brassica consumption and decrease in risk of cancer is related to Human GST genotype|
|Significant effects in cabbage and broccoli||Antiproliferative activities||17|
|Folates||Brassica contains folates ranging from Glu4 to Glu8||Nutritional demands for folates are particularly high during pregnancy. Folate supplemenation prior to conception can significantly reduce the incidence of neural tube defects. Folate deficiencies has also been implicated in the etiology of megalobastic anemia, Spina bifida, neuropsychiatric disorders and various forms of cancer||18, 19, 20|
|Consultation by the UK Health Departments and the Food Standards Agency on the Report of the Committee on Medical aspects of food and nutrition policy on Folic Acid and the prevention of disease||21|
|Trace elements||Selenium||Supplementation studies on humans have demonstrated the efficacy of selenium (Se) for prevention of colon cancer. The metabolism of Se depends upon its chemical form, and that which occurs in broccoli appears to be particularly effective at protecting laboratory animals from cancer||22|
|Phenolics||Quercetin occurs in relatively high concentration in some brassicas (100-450 mg kg-1) compared to other fruits and vegetables. However, many brassicas contain many other of phenolics, comprising both flavonol glycosides and hydroxycinnamic acid esters||Flavonols are important antioxidants.||17|
|Brassica Oils||Oilseed rape/Canola. Fatty acid composition||Lipid profiles may have significant effects on obesity. There also is emerging evidence to show that lipid profiles improve on a controlled-carbohydrate diet||23|
|Nervonic acid||Since nervonic acid is an important constituent of brain and membrane phospholipids, it is vital that the body has an adequate provision of this fatty acid. If, for any reason, the body cannot make this lipid, then a dietary source is indicated. Two such situations are under active investigation; multiple sclerosis (MS), where there are indications that there is inadequate provision of nervonic acid; and premature birth, where the infant no longer benefits from maternal nutrition.||24, 25, 26|
|Synthesis of Brassiodol utilises rapeseed oil as vehicle of iodination||A new iodised oil, called Brassiodol, is proposed to prevent or eradicate 127I-deficiency disorders inlcuding goitre.||27|
|Vitamin C||Apes and humans require but cannot synthesise ascorbic acid (Vit C)due to lack of an enzyme gulonolactone oxidase. Ascorbic acid has to be supplemented mainly through fruits, vegetables and tablets||34, 35, 36, 37|
|Vitamin E||HRI has research focused on post-harvest levels of Vitamin C in broccoli (affecting bioavailability).||Ascorbic acid esters have also been shown to have promising anticancer activity compared to ascorbic acid.|
|Considerable scope for increasing levels of Tocopherol (Vit E) in brassicas|
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