Vegetable fans sought for trial of medicinal broccoli

A potentially life-saving breed of broccoli has been developed by Norwich scientists to help prevent heart disease and cancer.

And now people in the city with a taste for the vegetable are being urged to take part in a clinical trial to test exactly how effective it is at fending off illness.

Those who sign up will be given a daily supply for 12 weeks, but not told if it is the new medicinal breed or normal vegetables.

A third group will eat peas instead, which contain many of the same nutrients as broccoli, except for one vital compound.

Scientists from the UEA, John Innes Centre and the Institute of Food Research (IFR) began work on breeding the plant in 1984.

It has been naturally bred from wild broccoli species found in Italy to be enriched with a naturally-occurring compound called glucoraphanin, which is thought to be important in preventing heart disease and cancer. The broccoli has been grown specially in Lincolnshire and 500kg of it was frozen in King's Lynn and delivered to the IFR near the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital yesterday.

Dr Richard Mither of the IFR was one of the scientists behind the development.

Most Read

He said: 'It's not GM, it's nothing to do with GM, it's just a normal breeding program. I collected wild broccoli in the 1980s and its derived from that.

'Norwich is a leading science centre in the UK and this is an opportunity for people to join in.'

Over two million people are affected by heart disease in the UK each year and it is hoped that this new vegetable could lower that number when brought to supermarkets within three years.

Scientists at the IFR need to prove that eating this new broccoli can have an impact on conditions such as high cholesterol in the over-50s before then.

The IFR is now looking for people aged over 50, both smokers and non-smokers, to take part in the clinical trial.

Anyone who wants to take part in the study should call Charlotte Armah on 01603 255 360 or email

Are you working on an unusual invention in Norwich? Call reporter Matthew Sparkes on 016-3 772439 or email matthew.sparkes@