1. Broccoli balances your gut

    What moms get right when it comes to dinner

    At my clinic here in the Boston area, I do my best to offer my patients common-sense health advice.

    But with Mother's Day just around the corner, it's the perfect time to remember that some of the finest wisdom around actually comes from someone much closer to your heart.

    Whether she's your mom, mother, mama, or ma, she's got a pretty good track record for keeping you alive -- and well -- after having brought you into this world in the first place.

    She sent you to play outside instead of sitting in front of the TV... she kept you away from the cookie jar... and she wouldn't let you leave the table until you'd finished your veggies.

    Now, the latest science is backing her up -- because it turns out that one particular veggie may hold the key to keeping your gut healthy.

    And if you've found your waistline kept growing bigger long after you stopped growing taller, this dinner plate staple can keep the outside of your gut in check, too.

    It all "boils" down to the vegetable that Mom always told you to eat -- broccoli -- and how it influences your gut flora. And, as I always say, your health begins and ends in your gut.

    The study out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign involved 18 healthy adults who were randomly assigned to eat either 200 grams (about half a cup) of cooked broccoli per day or 20 grams of fresh daikon radish per day for 17 days.

    It turns out that these two vegetables were NOT created equal. By the end of the study, only those who ate broccoli saw the balance of bacteria in their guts change for the better!

    Two of the gut's most common residents are called "firmicutes" and "bacteroidetes." Now, I don't expect you to be able to pronounce those -- just know that previous research has shown that to maintain a healthy weight, you want more of the bacteroidetes in your gut.

    In the study, the broccoli eaters INCREASED their proportion of bacteroidetes relative to firmicutes by 37 percent, while those who ate the radish REDUCED that ratio by 5 percent.

    That's good news for those of you who want to be lighter on the scale. But beefing up on bacteroidetes has other benefits, too -- these good "bugs" also support smooth digestion and strengthen your immune system.

    They help eliminate toxins and pathogens... and keep your brain healthy, too!

    So, bring on the broccoli -- and thank all the mothers out there who keep pushing this cruciferous cure on kids throughout the world.

    These "little trees" are loaded vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and fiber -- which also helps things move through your gut at the right pace.

    And broccoli has cancer-fighting potential, too, because it contains high levels of anti-cancer plant compounds called glucosinolates

    To get the most benefit from your broccoli, eat it raw or lightly cooked to preserve its active enzymes. As the weather warms up, try a cold broccoli salad for a refreshing and tasty side dish.

  2. Broccoli can help you lose weight

    Broccoli buffers the damage of "bad" eating

    What's not to love about broccoli?

    It's high in fiber, rich in vitamins C and A, and it's little "trees" are kind of fun to eat.

    And according to the latest research, broccoli is one thing you can eat more of -- rather than starving yourself -- in order to lose some weight.

    Because this crunchy veggie can actually offset some of the dire complications that come with obesity, which include not only too many extra pounds, but also inflammation, high blood sugar, and fatty liver.

    According to the new study published in Diabetes, it all has to do with a compound in broccoli called sulforaphane.

    When Japanese researchers fed mice a high-fat diet and then supplemented some of the diets with sulforaphane, the sulforaphane group of fatty-feasting mice actually gained 15 percent less weight than the non-sulforaphane mice gained.

    They also had less fat, less signs of fatty liver, and lower blood sugar than the control group.

    It appears as though sulforaphane does help you convert fat into energy and then burn that energy off, but it's important to note that sulforaphane isn't a "get out of jail free" card here: The mice still gained both weight and fat as a result of eating high-fat junk.

    But that weight gain didn't have as many catastrophic effects on their overall health if they took sulforaphane. They showed less inflammation and a better balance of gut bugs, too.

    We're starting to understand the powers of broccoli as a superfood, but I'm sure there's more to come in this growing body of evidence. The literature already shows that sulforaphane can kill cancer cells, stopping it from spreading from one part of the body to another.

    Just don't overcook it. You'll get more of the benefits of sulforaphane by just lightly steaming it.

    And if the thought of eating broccoli makes you cringe, sulforaphane is naturally found in other "cruciferous" vegetables like Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

    Eating more vegetables rather than fast food or other fatty, processed "junk" may actually help you lose a bit of weight, too.

    Sulforaphane supplements are also available at your local health food store or online.

  3. How to kill the nutrients in your food

    Microwaving can wipe out essential nutrients in your food, especially the cancer-fighting sulforaphane found in broccoli.
  4. How broccoli can stop arthritis in its tracks

    A key compound in broccoli can stop the damage that marks osteoarthritis, according to new research.
  5. Forget chemo -- try broccoli instead

    The best thing I can say about many vegetables... like the twin starch bombs potatoes and corn... is that they make for excellent compost material. But I do make exceptions -- and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower are more than just a garnish for my steak. They taste great, and they've proven time and again they can help beat cancer.
  6. Vitamin C for your eyes

    If you want to protect your eyes, forget carrots -- there's another "C" that plays a much more important role in how you see: Vitamin C.
  7. Reduce your risk of bladder cancer by over 50 percent

    A new study revealed that a concentrated extract from broccoli sprouts may reduce the development of bladder cancer by over 50 percent.

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