Kale – What You Probably Didn’t Know

As many of you will note, I have blogged quite a few times about the health virtues of kale. This is truly one on the healthiest food choices you can bring to your table.

Kale, a member of the cabbage family, is power packed with vitamins A, K, C, with meaningful amounts of B vitamins as well as trace minerals. It’s low in carbs and calories.

But there another attribute that I think is important to share in our discussion of kale. Like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and cauliflower, kale is a cruciferous vegetable. That means that the flowers of these vegetables take the form of a cross. More importantly, it means that like other cruciferous vegetables, kale is rich in a chemical called sulforaphane, and this may be one of kale’s most important health attributes.

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Sulforaphane Improves Autism Symptoms

Normally, I would be sharing a new blog post with you today. In fact, I already had one lined up about the link between antidepressants and weight gain (which I hope you’ll check back for in a few days). However, just this week a press release from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found its way to my inbox, and I was so caught by the results of the study they reported, that I want to immediately share it with all of you. What this study means for the treatment of autism is groundbreaking. 

Read MGH’s press release below, copied in its entirety, and view the original study here, for your reference. You can learn more about sulforaphane, the subject of this groundbreaking research as it relates to Parkinson’s disease, in this 2013 study.

BOSTON – A small study led by investigators at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has found evidence that daily treatment with sulforaphane – a molecule found in foods such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage – may improve some symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. In their report being published online in PNAS Early Edition, the investigators describe how participants receiving a daily dose of sulforaphane showed improvement in both behavioral and communication assessments in as little as four weeks.

The authors stress that the results of this pilot study – conducted at the MGHfC-affiliated Lurie Center for Autism – must be confirmed in larger investigations before any conclusions can be drawn about sulforaphane’s therapeutic benefit. “Over the years there have been several anecdotal reports that children with autism can have improvements in social interaction and sometimes language skills when they have a fever,” explains Andrew Zimmerman, MD, a co-corresponding author of the current report who also published a 2007 paper documenting the fever effect. “We investigated what might be behind that on a cellular level and postulated that it results from fever’s activation of the cellular stress response, in which protective cellular mechanisms that are usually held in reserve are turned on through activation of gene transcription.” Affiliated with the MGHfC Department of Neurology, Zimmerman is now based at UMass Memorial Medical Center.  Continue reading