Eating plenty of broccoli could help to prevent or slow down the onset of osteoarthritis, researchers said.
Scientists at the University of East Anglia found that sulforaphane, which is found in broccoli as well as Brussels sprouts and cabbage, delays the destruction of cartilage in joints.
Researchers have so far tested their findings in models involving in cartilage cells, tissue and mice and now want to move to human trials.
Around 8.5 million people in Britain have osteoarthritis, a condition in which the surfaces of joints become damaged so it does not move as smoothly as it should.
It often affects people who are overweight or have had previous joint injuries.
Ian Clark, professor of musculoskeletal biology at UEA, which is based in Norwich, said: “The results from this study are very promising.
“As well as treating those who already have the condition, you need to be able to tell healthy people how to protect their joints into the future.”
Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, said: “This is an interesting study with promising results as it suggests that a common vegetable, broccoli, might have health benefits for people with osteoarthritis and even possibly protect people from developing the disease in the first place.
“Until now research has failed to show that food or diet can play any part in reducing the progression of osteoarthritis, so if these findings can be replicated in humans, it would be quite a breakthrough.”
The findings were published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism.