Scientific research suggests that broccoli and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) are true examples of food as medicine. Studies have shown that broccoli contains sulforaphane which may help to prevent or slow down the destruction of cartilage by osteoarthritis. Research has also shown that extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) contains oleocanthin that can help treat the inflammation and pain of osteoarthritis.


Osteoarthritis, also referred to as degenerative joint disease, causes the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most commonly found type of arthritis and is a prime cause of disability, especially in seniors. It affects more than 30 million Americans and 10 million people in the UK. The risk for contracting osteoarthritis increases with age. No cure has been found for osteoarthritis, so treatment focuses on treating the symptoms of pain and inflammation, especially with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). However, NSAIDS, if taken over a long period of time or in large dosages, have been linked to dangerous side effects that affect the heart, kidneys and liver. In fact, NSAIDS can lead to heart failure. NSAIDS are also associated with both vision and hearing loss, gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers. Since many NSAIDS are sold over-the-counter without a need for a doctor’s prescription, no one knows for certain how and why they are being used. In fact many patients do not even mention to their doctors that they are taking NSAIDS!

Broccoli and Osteoarthritis

A study in 2013 by researchers at the University of East Anglia showed that broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables in the Brassica family like cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts contain an antimicrobial phytochemical called sulforaphane. Broccoli contains the highest amounts of sulforaphane. Sulforaphane was shown to be able to prevent or slow down the destruction of cartilage in the joints of mice with osteoarthritis. Research is continuing with human trials to see if, in fact, broccoli can also help to slow down destruction of cartilage in the joints of humans.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Osteoarthritis

Researchers from the University of Philadelphia led by Dr. Gary Beauchamp discovered that a substance in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) called oleocanthal has pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties that work in a similar way as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) Ibuprofen. Their results were published in the Nature Journal Nature September 1, 2005, The researchers had noticed that extra virgin olive oil produced a slight burning sensation in the back of the throat when swallowed, which made them wonder if it might behave in a similar fashion to Ibuprofen. Even though they do not have the same structure, both oleocanthol and ibuprofen inhibit COX-1 and COX- 2 enzymes and this leads to anti-inflammatory pain relief.

Oleocanthal Does not Have Dangerous Side Effects Like Ibuprofen

However, oleocanthal does not have the same dangerous side effects as Ibuprofen. Whereas Ibuprofen is dangerous for the heart, liver, kidneys and other organs, extra virgin olive oil actually protects these organs. Read more about the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil in our post HOLY AND HEALING OLIVE OIL OF CHANUKAH from December 9, 2020.

Broccoli is Safe to Eat

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables in the same brassica family can be safely eaten in large amounts by most people. However, people on anti-coagulant and blood thinning medicines like warfarin Coumadin should consult with their doctor before taking broccoli in very large amounts. Broccoli, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables contain a lot of Vitamin K which in large amounts may interfere with blood thinning medicines.

Walking can help Prevent Disability from Osteoarthritis

Make sure you also get enough physical exercise. A study by researchers from Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine showed that one hour a week of brisk walking (about 10 minutes a day) can help to prevent disability in seniors with osteoarthritis. The study was published April 1, 2019 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.


There is a real need to find a cure for osteoarthritis that is a progressive disease that interferes with the quality of life and can lead to permanent disability. While knee or hip joint replacement surgery may become necessary, this surgery is not without possible complications and may not stop pain. After all, the surgery is a treatment, but not a cure for osteoarthritis. In fact, some people may eventually need a second knee or hip replacement in the exact same joint. Research suggests that until a cure is found, that daily consuming cruciferous vegetables like broccoli may stop or slow down the destruction of cartilage. Research also suggests that consuming extra virgin olive oil for pain relief is safer than taking NSAIDS. Finally, it is imperative to get enough physical exercise like brisk walking for an hour a week (about 10 minutes a day).