Science has recently found that your mother may have been on to something when she told you to eat your broccoli. This member of the brassica, or cabbage, family that has made generations of children squirm is now considered to be an anti-aging powerhouse. In a time where people are more concerned with their health than ever, broccoli’s numerous benefits to health and longevity are presenting the vegetable in a new light. Here are some of the ways that broccoli can help to slow down the aging process.
As your body ages, it produces less of many key hormones, including testosterone. In older adults, low testosterone is closely associated with depression, low libido, heart problems, poor cognitive function and an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Hormone replacement therapy to increase testosterone in older men and women is a common feature of life extension clinics for this reason. However, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on injections from a fancy clinic. Broccoli, like other brassica vegetables, helps to increase testosterone levels naturally.
Broccoli is an abundant source of vitamin C. While many people recognize the immune-enhancing properties of vitamin C, they are not often aware of the anti-aging benefits it offers. This nutrient is essential for your body’s ability to make collagen, which is used to repair and maintain skin, joints and connective tissues. It’s also critical for bone health. Without adequate vitamin C, your body is unable to utilize calcium and phosphorous for bone production. Because your skeleton is constantly being replaced throughout your life, vitamin C deficiency can greatly increase your risk of developing osteoporosis and suffering from fractures.
Broccoli is rich in an organic sulfurous compound known as sulforaphane. This phytonutrient has been demonstrated to activate cells’ antioxidant pathways, leading to enhanced immune response. Studies done on sulforaphane have been found to have the greatest benefit in the elderly. In a study done on elderly mice, the substance caused their immune systems to respond more like those of young mice. It is also believed that sulforaphane may protect against heart disease, diabetes and degenerative joint diseases.
This bioflavonoid assists with the healthy function of skin cells to promote firmer, younger skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and blemishes. Quercetin is also a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
At almost 92 milligrams per cup, broccoli is one of the best vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids available. This valuable nutrient is well-known for its ability to ward off inflammation and enhance brain function. It has also been shown to decrease the likelihood of developing many forms of cancer due to its ability to prevent oxidative stress. Furthermore, science has revealed that omega-3 may slow the rate of cellular aging in people with heart disease.
Magnesium may be one of the best anti-aging nutrients found in broccoli, yet some three-quarters of Americans are estimated to be deficient in it. As you become older, your body has a harder time producing adequate amounts of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), your body’s energy source which it requires magnesium to make. This not only leads to decreased energy levels but also an unhealthy heart. Your heart relies heavily upon ATP for the energy to beat and pump blood efficiently and without it, heart disease may result.
Furthermore, magnesium is important for mood. When many men and women reach their 40s or 50s, hormonal changes may trigger feelings of depression and anxiety. Magnesium helps to produce serotonin, which lends itself to feelings of happiness, contentment and relaxation.
This water-soluble nutrient, also known as vitamin B9, is found in broccoli and helps the body repair damage caused by aging. Like most other vitamins in the B group, it’s important for neurological health, mood and cognitive function. Vitamin B9 deficiency has been associated with an increased likelihood of dementia and depression in the elderly. Also, studies have suggested that it may help to lessen the risk of developing colon cancer, an alarmingly common disease in older populations.
Like many dark green vegetables, broccoli is an abundant source of calcium. You probably already know how important calcium is to the health and structural integrity of your bones, but that’s not all it’s needed for. As many people age, they may find that they frequently suffer from insomnia. Calcium helps with this by promoting the production of melatonin, the neurotransmitter hormone that tells your body when it’s time to sleep. Calcium is also an important chemical messenger required by the brain to transmit signals across cells. In this way, it can help to preserve and improve cognitive function.