Credit: © Iain Bagwell

Parents may have a new argument to get kids to finish their broccoli—it could prevent cancer. OK, a six-year-old who doesn’t like vegetables might not be swayed by that case, but any parents out there who want to spark an interesting discussion about mortality should give it a try.

A new study suggests that a certain gross property of the green florets can aid cancer prevention. Basically, it helps us excrete the harmful toxins in our bodies. For the study researchers gave a “broccoli-sprout beverage”—sort of a broccoli-sprout tea—to subjects in an area of China notorious for its bad air. The researchers then measured the amount of benzene, a harmful carcinogen found in smoggy air, present in the subjects’ urine. What they found is that the amount of benzene increased dramatically—as much as 61 percent. The conclusion? The subjects peed out a lot of the benzene, thanks to an agent generated by the broccoli beverage called sulforaphane.*

But even the study’s subjects couldn’t escape the broccoli stereotype. According to the Wall Street Journal, people drinking the broccoli beverage reported an “unacceptable taste.” Adding pineapple juice and lime juice “helped mask some of the less appealing aspects of broccoli flavor.” Maybe we’re all still six-year-olds at heart.

If you’re looking for delicious ways to possibly reduce your cancer risk check out our slideshow of 26 great broccoli recipes.

*We should note that sulforaphane is more easily generated in broccoli sprouts, but it is also present in your run-of-the-mill grocery store produce.