Colon Inflammation Dropped 87%, Basic Research Found
This St. Patrick’s Day, we celebrate the healing prowess of cabbage – one of the traditional staples of Irish cuisine. Like other cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc.), cabbage contains powerful phytochemicals with possible anti-cancer effects. Now, new research is investigating the potential of such compounds to counter ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that significantly increases the risk of colon cancer.
Researchers at South Dakota State University isolated and administered particular cruciferous compounds to mice afflicted with ulcerative colitis. Among the more impressive results: a whopping 87% reduction in colon inflammation after five days of observation. Further investigation suggests the compounds work in a dose-dependent manner (e.g., double the intake, double the effect), specifically by suppressing genes associated with inflammation.
While more research is needed to confirm these benefits in humans, there are plenty of reasons to eat more cruciferous vegetables, and cabbage in particular. One cup of cabbage contains 80% vitamin K, 50% vitamin C and 10% folate for just 20 calories. High cabbage intake among Polish women (30 lbs. annually vs. 10 lbs. for American women) may contribute to the former’s 66% lower risk of breast cancer. Try an unconventional approach to a time-honored dish with this recipe for Unstuffed Cabbage.
Bonus: Asparagus may be another vegetable to include this St. Patrick’s Day – especially if you’re celebrating with Irish ale. One lab study showed that asparagus extract helped curb liver toxicity.
Published March 1, 2011