Eat broccoli to treat asthmarachaelvoorhees/Flickr

Regular consumption of cruciferous vegetable broccoli can help treat asthma, according to a new study from Australia.

The University of Melbourne study found that eating at least two cups of steamed broccoli daily helped asthmatics to breathe easily and prevented the condition being worsened. 

Interestingly, the research team also found cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and bok choy, protected against lung damage and even reversed its effects.

"Laboratory tests have shown that consumption of broccoli changes the formation of the airway and may make clear breathing easier for those who suffer from asthma and allergies,"  researcher Nadia Mazarakis, who conducted the study under the supervision of Dr Tom Karagiannis and Dr Simon Royce, said in a University news release. "Blockages in the airway were reversed almost entirely."

She also hoped that their findings will provide additional treatment options for asthma patients.

"Using broccoli to treat asthma may also help for people who don't respond to traditional treatment," Mazarakis, explained.

Findings of the study will be presented at the 2014 Undergraduate Research Conference about Food Safety scheduled to be held in Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, from 7 to 11 July.

Asthma is an inflammation of the air passage that narrows the airway which carries air from the mouth and nose to the lungs. An estimate from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology shows that nearly 300 million people across the globe are asthmatic and around 2, 50,000 people die from the condition every year.   So efforts to improve asthma treatments have been going on from a long time. In such an effort, a team of scientists from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark reported  last year that they have identified a new gene called CDHR3 that played a key role in the development of asthma.  In another study, researchers from Switzerland reported that eating a fibre-rich food can help protect against allergic asthma.

Some elements in broccoli that gives it the "superfood" effect are fibre, phytochemicals like glucoraphanin and flavonoid kaempferol. It is also a rich source of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C, A and B-6, folate. Following are some health benefits associated with eating broccoli regularly:

·         Helps lower cholesterol

·         Protects against cardiovascular diseases

·         Reduces risk of cancer

·         Protects against allergy

·         Helps maintain levels of vitamin D in the body

·         Helps build healthy and strong bones

·         Helps regulate blood pressure