Broccoli can beat arthritis

It's the painkiller hidden in the produce aisle -- a safe and natural blend of nutrients such as sulforaphane with the power to fight inflammation and maybe even prevent the misery of arthritis.

And you can get it for a buck or two a pound.

Is that a bargain or what?

It's broccoli, of course, and ounce for ounce you just won't find a more powerful concentration of critical vitamins. But today, I want to focus on just one of them: a sulfur compound called sulforaphane.

In a series of experiments, mice given a diet rich in sulforaphane had less of the joint and cartilage damage linked to osteoarthritis than mice not given the compound.

When the experiment was repeated on human and cow tissue, same thing happened -- and it's almost certainly because sulforaphane can block the enzymes that cause inflammation in cartilage.

Less inflammation means less damage to the cartilage -- and if you can prevent that damage to the cartilage, you can avoid the pain of osteoarthritis, aka the "wear and tear" form of the disease that strikes many of us as we age.

Next up, researchers plan a clinical trial to see if it works in humans ready to get surgery for their own osteoarthritis.

But why wait?

This isn't a drug experiment. It's broccoli, something we already know is healthy and something you should be eating anyway. And while broccoli is the best natural source of sulforaphane, you'll also find it in other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

Along with possibly slowing or even preventing osteoarthritis, sulforaphane is a proven inflammation-fighter that can help protect against other major diseases, up to and including cancer.

Broccoli is also packed with essential minerals such as iron and potassium as well as nearly an entire alphabet's worth of vitamins -- and it tastes great steamed, grilled, boiled, broiled, baked and raw.

Just be sure to get yours organic to make sure you get all of the nutrients without a dose of pesticides and other chemicals.