‘Superbroccoli’ goes on sale in UK

A hybrid strain of broccoli containing higher levels of the cancer-fighting phytonutrient, glucoraphani, has been launched in UK supermarkets.

The new broccoli, brought to market under the name Beneforté, was developed by a team of British scientists and brought to market by agriculture giant Seminis.

The broccoli, which is the culmination of years of research and development by scientists at the UK’s Institute of Food Research and the John Innes Centre, contains up to three times the standard level of glucoraphanin than other broccoli types.

It will be sold at Marks & Spencer stores and will make an appearance on the shelves of other supermarkets next year.

Beneforte was developed using conventional breeding techniques rather than genetic engineering. 

Professor Richard Mithen, who led the research, said that his teams research has provided “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 vegetables.”

Mithen told NutraIngredients that his team began research into the health benefits of broccoli in the early 1990’s, and worked to develop understanding of what it is about broccoli that makes it a particularly healthy food. Broccoli is the only commonly eaten vegetable that contains meaningful quantities of glucoraphanin – a naturally occurring compound that is converted into the bioactive compound sulforaphane by the gut.

The identification of a type of wild broccoli that contained very high levels of glucoraphanin in Sicily led the researchers to develop a breeding programme for the production of a hybrid.

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 antioxidants.

Previous studies have backed such an idea, finding that people who consume a few portions of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli every week have a lower risk of chronic diseases, including cancer and heart disease.

Beneforté does not currently make any health claims on packs of broccoli. Mithen said that the plan is to submit a health claims dossier to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for claim substantiation on Beneforté’s cardiovascular and heart health benefits upon completion the next set of human studies.

He added that whilst the research programme into the cancer benefits of the broccoli will continue, the complex nature of cancer risks means it is highly unlikely that they will submit health claims dossiers for the suggested benefits.

Source: The Telegraph,