guardian.co.uk, Monday 3 October 2011 20.04 BST
The new broccoli, called Beneforte, was developed using conventional
breeding techniques. Photograph: Rosemary Calvert/Getty Images
A heart disease and cancer-fighting "superbroccoli" developed by British
scientists goes on sale in the UK today.
The vegetable looks the same as normal broccoli but contains boosted
levels of glucoraphanin, which may protect the body against heart
disease and some types of cancer.
The new broccoli, called Beneforte, contains two to three times more
glucoraphanin than standard broccoli. It will be sold at Marks & Spencer
stores from and make an appearance on the shelves of other supermarkets
Beneforte was developed by British scientists using conventional
breeding techniques rather than genetic engineering. Work on the project
began after a wild broccoli variety was discovered in 1983 with
naturally raised levels of glucoraphanin.
The nutrient is converted in the gut into the bioactive compound
sulphoraphane, which circulates in the bloodstream.
Evidence indicates that sulphoraphane has beneficial effects such as
reducing chronic inflammation, stopping uncontrolled cell division
associated with early-stage cancer, and boosting the body’s
Compared with normal broccoli, eating Beneforte broccoli raises
sulphoraphane levels two to four times.
Broccoli is believed to protect against some cancers, especially bowel
and prostate. Studies have shown that men with broccoli-rich diets have
a reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
Other research suggests broccoli can help prevent heart attacks and
strokes by reducing inflammation and keeping blood flowing freely
through arteries.Beneforte broccoli was developed at the Institute of
Food Research (IFR) and John Innes Centre, both based in Norwich.
Professor Richard Mithen, from the IFR, said: "Our research has given
new insights into the role of broccoli and other similar vegetables in
promoting health, and has shown how this understanding can lead to the
development of potentially more nutritious varieties of our familiar
"Now there will also be something brand new for consumers to eat as a
result of the discoveries we have made."
The science minister, David Willetts, praised the "fantastic
achievement" of the scientists.
He added: "This excellent work has led to the development of a highly
commercial food product that will be both grown and sold in the UK,
giving a real boost to agriculture, our personal health and the