"We enriched preharvest broccoli with different bioactive components, then assessed the levels of cancer-fighting enzymes in rats that ate powders made from these crops," said Elizabeth Jeffery, a U of I professor of food science and human nutrition.
The highest levels of detoxifying enzymes were found in rats that ate selenium-treated broccoli. The amount of one of the cancer-fighting compounds in broccoli was six times higher in selenium-enriched broccoli than in standard broccoli powder, she said.
Selenium-treated broccoli was also most active in the liver, reaching a level of bioactivity that exceeded the other foods used in the experiment.
"We were intrigued to find that selenium initiated this amount of bioactivity," she said.
Along with garlic and other plants of the allium family, broccoli and other plants of the brassica family are unique in having a methylating enzyme that enables plants to store high concentrations of selenium, she said.
"Our bodies need a certain amount of selenium, but many areas of the world, including parts of the United States and vast areas of China, have very little selenium in the soil," she said.
"Not only could selenium in broccoli deliver this necessary mineral, it also appears to rev up the vegetable's cancer-fighting power," she added.
Jeffery is now working to determine whether selenium compounds are directly responsible for the increase in bioactivity or if selenium acts indirectly by directing new synthesis of the broccoli bioactives called glucosinolates.
In a previous study, Jeffery and U of I colleague John W. Erdman Jr. showed that tomato and broccoli powders eaten together are more effective in slowing prostate cancer in laboratory rats than either tomato or broccoli alone.
In their current research, they are experimenting with ways to increase the bioactive components in these foods in order to test the efficacy of enriched broccoli and tomatoes in a new prostate cancer study.
Rats were fed diets with food powders containing 10 percent of either standard broccoli; standard tomato; lycopene-enriched tomato; tomato enriched with lycopene and other carotenoids; broccoli sprouts, which contain very high levels of cancer-fighting compounds; or broccoli grown on soil treated with selenium.
The scientists found that greater amounts of bioactive components in the food powders translated into increased levels of the compounds in body tissue and increased bioactivity in the animals.
Carotenoid-enriched tomatoes produced more bioactivity in the liver than lycopene-enriched or standard tomatoes, yielding the most cancer-preventive benefits.
"Carotenoids, which are phytochemical pigments found in fruits and vegetables, are thought to be excellent antioxidants and effective in cancer prevention," said Ann G. Liu, a U of I graduate student who worked on the study.
"A good rule is: the brighter the color, the higher the carotenoid content. If you're growing or buying tomatoes, select plants or produce that are a very bright red. High-lycopene tomatoes are now available through garden catalogs," she added.
"This research shows that you can greatly increase a food's bioactive benefits through normal farming practices, without resorting to genetic engineering. Farmers have traditionally been more concerned about yield than nutritional composition. Now we're asking, can we grow more nutritional broccoli and tomatoes? And the answer is a definite yes," said Jeffery.
The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Liu and Sonja E. Volker co-authored the paper with Jeffery and Erdman.
Phyllis Picklesimer | EurekAlert!
New technique reveals details of forest fire recovery
17.05.2018 | DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Mixed forests: ecologically and economically superior
09.05.2018 | Technische Universität München
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.
Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...
A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.
Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.05.2018 | Information Technology
18.05.2018 | Information Technology