Leafy greens are not only good for your health, they may help end the coronavirus pandemic as well. Researchers from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center have collected compelling evidence that a chemical found within broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables may offer a potent new way of fighting both COVID-19 and the common cold. Scientists call the plant-derived chemical (phytochemical) in question sulforaphane. Prior work has already connected sulforaphane with cancer preventing benefits. Now, this latest work reports it can also inhibit the replication of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for COVID-19), and other coronaviruses across both cell and mice samples.
To be clear, while these results are very promising, study authors caution against running to the grocery store and cleaning out your local produce section. Additional studies focusing specifically on the impact of sulforaphane on humans are necessary before scientists can tell if the chemical is totally safe and effective. The natural compound in leafy greens which turns into sulforaphane is especially abundant within broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cabbage. This compound was first discovered and identified as a “chemopreventive” by scientists at Johns Hopkins decades ago.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic started, our multidisciplinary research teams switched our investigations of other viruses and bacteria to focus on a potential treatment for what was then a challenging new virus for us,” says senior study author and Children’s Center microbiologist Lori Jones-Brando, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in a media release. “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.”
Leafy greens even work against new COVID strains
The team notes people can derive natural sulforaphane from numerous common food sources, including broccoli seeds, sprouts, various mature plants, as well as sprout infusions or seeds for drinking. Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that additional work conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers suggests sulforaphane can help prevent cancer and infections by interfering with certain cellular processes. In the new study, every experiment used purified, synthetic sulforaphane acquired from commercial chemical suppliers.