Azara Blog: Broccoli allegedly protects against heart disease

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Date published: 2008/01/22

The BBC says:

Eating broccoli may protect against heart disease, US research suggests.

Rats were fed an extract of the vegetable for a month, and the effect on their heart muscle was measured.

Compared with animals whose diet did not change, the hearts of the broccoli rats functioned better and displayed less damage when deprived of oxygen.

At least these researchers have (presumably) used a randomised sample, since their subjects were rats rather than people. So at least they have probably observed a real causal effect. On the other hand, rats are not people, so the odds that the results would perfectly reflect what happens in humans are not that high. And did they give the rats a reasonable amount of broccoli or stuff them silly?

Needless to say, this research suffers from the usual health research problem that they are looking at one thing in isolation. Broccoli might be good for heart disease. It might be bad for a zillion and one other things. This kind of research is rather pointless unless it can be used to pinpoint a physiological effect.

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