Vegetables like broccoli and kale aren’t just dietary heroes for their fibre content – they might hold a hidden power that aids our battle against lung infections, according to a study published on 16 August 2023 in the journal Nature.

Scientists have found certain compounds in these greens act as secret signals for a protein that guards crucial defence points in the body, like the gut and lungs.

When we consume these leafy veggies, cabbage, cauliflower, and other cruciferous foods, they send instructions to a protein called aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), found in the blood vessels of our lungs. This ensures a healthy environment in our lung area, which serves as an important barrier between our internal systems and the outside world.

AHR helped prevent the lung barrier from becoming leaky, leading to less blood in the lung spaces. Mice with enhanced AHR activity also resisted weight loss and were more adept at fending off both viral and bacterial infections.

“This study is important because it shows how the cells that line the lungs protect against damage following viral infection and that protection from infectious disease is not the sole reserve of the immune system,” said John Tregoning, PhD, an infectious disease specialist at Imperial College London.

Besides broccoli and kale, other cruciferous vegetables include arugula, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, collard and mustard greens, radish, turnips and watercress.

Load up on these vegetables for healthier lungs.

– Adapted from Web MD