A study published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that including broccoli in the diet may protect against liver cancer, as well as aid in countering the development of fatty liver or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Previous research suggests that broccoli, a brassica vegetable containing bioactive compounds, may impede the accumulation of fat in the liver and protect against NAFLD in mice. Therefore, the researchers wanted to find out the impact of feeding broccoli to mice with a known liver cancer-causing carcinogen. The researchers studied four groups of mice; some of which were on a control diet or the Westernized diet, and some were given or not given broccoli.
Although the researchers were predominantly interested in broccoli’s impact on the formation and progression of cancerous tumors in the liver, they also wanted to observe the health of the liver and how the liver was metabolizing lipids because of the high-fat diet.
The researchers found that in mice on the Westernized diet both the number of cancer nodules and the size of the cancer nodules increased in the liver. However, when broccoli was added to the diet, the number of nodules decreased. Size was not affected.
With NAFLD, lipid globules form on the liver. During the study, the researchers observed these globules in the livers of the mice on the Westernized diet and found that broccoli protected against fatty liver. It stopped too much uptake of fat into the liver by decreasing the uptake and increasing the output of lipid from the liver.