Scientists have just discovered that this one green vegetable might be the key to staying young

It’s not exactly the fountain of youth, but promising new research shows that there’s one particular enzyme that can actually slow down the onset of some of the chronic issues that come with age. Where can we find this enzyme, you ask? Well, in broccoli for starters.

Love it or hate it, we have several compelling reasons to give broccoli some serious respect: lately, it’s been proving it’s a pretty incredible little vegetable. From having some incredibly good effects for the skin, and even being added to coffee to boost your intake of antioxidants, broccoli is kind of the hero veggie of the moment.

In a paper published in Cell Metabolism, a Washington University School of Medicine-led research team found a way to make cells behave as though they’re younger than they actually are.


Now, the cells the researchers were working on were in mice, not humans – but it’s still a pretty exciting find. The agent that makes cells act younger is called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), and it’s involved in the production of another compound. That compound is necessary for energy metabolism.

When the researchers gave mice (who were aging normally) infusions of NMN, the bodies of these mice made more of that second compound – and, most importantly, some of the issues that go hand-in-hand with aging basically disappeared. The mice treated with NMN showed improvement in their eyesight and blood sugar levels, and a lowering in age-associated weight gain.

Dr. Shin-Ichiro Imai, who is the senior author of the paper as well as a professor of developmental biology and medicine at Washington University says: “It’s clear that in humans and in rodents, we lose energy with age. We are losing the enzyme NMN. But if we can bypass that process by adding NMN, we can make energy again. These results provide a very important foundation for the human studies.

NMN is also found in cabbage, edamame, and cucumbers as well as broccoli – however, it’s probably unlikely that you’d be able to eat yourself young naturally.

According to Dr. Imai, “If you do the math, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible entirely but probably very difficult to get the whole amount [you need] simply from natural foods.


Part of the research team is based at Keio University in Tokyo and will begin an early study by giving NMN supplements to human participants in pill form. Until then, though, we have to say: Pass the broccoli.

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