Researchers from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health along with Chinese institutes found the compound called sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts that is known for its anti-cancer properties .
The study observed for three months nearly 2,914 participants aged 53 on average living in highly industrialized parts of China in Jiangsu Province.
The subjects were either given broccoli beverage containing glucoraphanin and sulforaphane or a placebo drink made from water, pineapple and lime juice. The researchers also collected urine and blood samples to note their level of exposure to air pollution.
In participants who received broccoli beverages, the amount of carcinogenic benzene and acrolein released from the body increased by 61 and 23 percent, respectively. The sulforaphane trigger responses in the molecule NRF2 that alerts the cells to protect itself and overcome the damaging effects of environmental toxins. The broccoli extracts surge the release of enzymes that initiates the disposal of pollutants in the body. This method can be employed in the purification of contaminated water and food.
The authors believe the rising levels of air pollutants and particulate matter pose a serious threat to the health and well being of people around the globe. This stresses on the need for the development of food-based strategies and preventive measures to avert health risk on a large scale.
"This study points to a frugal, simple and safe means that can be taken by individuals to possibly reduce some of the long-term health risks associated with air pollution," said Thomas Kensler, co-author and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School in a news release.
"This while government leaders and policy makers define and implement more effective regulatory policies to improve air quality."
The authors added further investigation is needed to determine the exact dosage and frequency of drinking broccoli sprouts can help excrete toxins. The study is available in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.