Health benefits of glucosinolates and cruciferous vegetables

Lead Research Organisation: Institute of Food Research
Department Name: Contracts


Glucosinolates are ß-thioglucoside-N-hydroxysulfates that accumulate in plants of the order Brassicales that include cruciferous vegetable and salad crops. Epidemiological studies have shown that diets rich in cruciferous vegetables are associated with benefits to health, but the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. This project has two main objectives Firstly, to quantify how genetic and environmental factors interact to determine the level of glucosinolates and other bioactive compounds that accumulate in broccoli, and, secondly, to elucidate how consuming broccoli and other glucosinolate-containing functional foods affect the expression of biomarkers of health and healthy aging in humans, and identify the underlying molecular mechanisms. Metabolomic and transcriptomic approaches will be used to identify differences between broccoli cultivars with different levels of glucosinolates, and used to develop further broccoli genotypes for human intervention studies. Emphasis will be on the partitioning of sulphur between primary and secondary metabolism. This work will be complemented with elucidating the biological activity of glucosinolate degradation products and other bioactive compounds from broccoli with the use of a variety of model systems, and with short and longer term human intervention studies. Of particular interest is how isothiocyanates can perturb cell signalling pathways to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.


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Folkard DL (2015) Effect of Sulforaphane on NOD2 via NF-?B: implications for Crohn's disease. in Journal of inflammation (London, England)

Description This project explored how dietary consumption 4-methylsulphinylbutyl glucosinolates and its derivative 4-methylsulphinylbutyl isothiocyanate which are obtained from broccoli may enhance health. The project used a combination of human cell models and human dietary intervention studies. The main finding from these studies is that the most likely mode of action is subtle effects on many redox sensitive enzymes that modulate central pathways of metabolism. One consequence of this is diets rich in these compounds may reduce LDL cholesterol. We now consider that sulforaphane's main mode of action is during first pass effects on liver metabolism.
Exploitation Route The results of this project have more general implications for the manner by which diets rich in sulphur rich compounds found in Brassica and Allium may maintain and promote health. This information could be exploited by the food industry to develop novel processed products, and also inform public health by strengthen the evidence that certain fruits and vegetables may reduce risk of chronic disease
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

Description The outcome of this project is being used by the commercial sector to commercialised new cultivars of broccoli sold under the tradename 'Beneforte broccoli' The mechanistic evidence generate by this project will form part of a submission to EFSA to obtain an approved health claim on Beneforte broccoli. The programme has evaluated the use of high glucoraphanin broccoli in human studies concerned with cholesterol and arthritis, and mechanistic studies with cell models investigating how sulforaphane can modulate lipid metabolism and inflammatory responses
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Societal,Economic