A broccoli a day keeps COVID (and colds) away?
Your mom was right: Eat your vegetables!
Vegetables have long been a mainstay of a healthy diet, but there may be one more reason to eat your greens. They may stave off a bad COVID-19 infection.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center found that a chemical compound called sulforaphane found in abundance in broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts might slow growth of coronaviruses such as those that cause COVID-19 and the common cold.
At the start of the pandemic, the researchers began looking for potential treatments for the virus when they came across the compound. They haven’t tested it in humans yet, but in cells and mice they found sulforaphane was a promising weapon against severe disease because it interferes with virus replication. That’s how the virus spreads in the body.
“I was screening multiple compounds for anti-coronavirus activity and decided to try sulforaphane since it has shown modest activity against other microbial agents that we study,” said Lori Jones-Brando, a Hopkins Children’s Center microbiologist and senior author of a paper recently published on the findings in the Nature journal Communications Biology.
This isn’t the first time health researchers have looked at greens for more than just a healthy gut. Other Hopkins researchers have been looking into using the compound to prevent or treat breast cancer after discovering there was some anti-cancer benefit to sulforaphane decades ago.
The compound is especially alluring because it’s not hard to find. The veggies, plus supplements made from the greens, are readily found in stores with no prescription — though the researchers warn against rushing out to buy supplements just yet, as their work is early and the supplements are generally unregulated by the government.
They’ll continue testing the compound for its COVID-19 potential and plan to study the effects in humans.
Another benefit of sulforaphane is that it decreases inflammation in the lungs, a potentially deadly immune response to COVID-19.