Eating broccoli three to five times a week could protect you from liver cancer.

March 08, 2016

Before you have that third glass of wine or another bite of that double cheeseburger, try picking up a forkful of broccoli. A new study from the University of Illinois suggests that eating the bushy brassica three to five times a week protects against liver cancer as well nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Scientists have long known broccoli to have protective properties against cancers like colon, prostate and breast, but this is the first time researchers have specifically looked at broccoli’s effect on liver health. "We decided that liver cancer needed to be studied particularly because of the obesity epidemic in the U.S.,” Elizabeth Jeffrey, a University of Illinois emeritus professor of nutrition, told Science Daily. “It is already in the literature that obesity enhances the risk for liver cancer and this is particularly true for men. They have almost a 5-fold greater risk for liver cancer if they are obese."

Previous studies showed that broccoli’s bioactive compounds were effective in preventing against the accumulation of fat in mouse livers, so the researchers were inspired to probe deeper. They found that when mice ate broccoli, the number of cancer nodules present on their livers decreased and their livers didn’t get as fatty. According to Jeffrey, the best way to soak up as much of broccoli’s cancer-fighting goodness as possible is to eat it raw or lightly steamed. That doesn’t mean it has to be flavorless. Try it tossed with edamame and soy vinaigrette in this bright salad or steamed, topped with a spicy orange-chile oil.

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