04/10/2011 03:25 BST | Updated 03/12/2011 05:12 GMT

Marks & Spencer Unveil 'Superbroccoli' That Fights Cancer

PA - A heart disease and cancer-fighting "superbroccoli" developed by British scientists has gone on sale in the UK.

The vegetable looks the same as normal broccoli but contains boosted levels of a health-giving nutrient.

Research suggests the plant chemical, glucoraphanin, may protect the body against heart disease and some types of cancer.

The new broccoli, called Beneforte, contains two to three times more glucoraphanin than standard broccoli. It will be sold at Marks & Spencer stores from Tuesday and will make an appearance on the shelves of other supermarkets next year.

Beneforte was developed by British scientists using conventional breeding techniques rather than genetic engineering.

Work on the project began after a wild broccoli variety was discovered in 1983 with naturally raised levels of glucoraphanin. The nutrient is converted in the gut into the bioactive compound sulphoraphane, which circulates in the bloodstream.

Evidence indicates that sulphoraphane has beneficial effects such as reducing chronic inflammation, stopping uncontrolled cell division associated with early-stage cancer, and boosting the body's antioxidants.

Compared with normal broccoli, eating Beneforte broccoli raises sulphoraphane levels two to four times.

Beneforte broccoli was developed at the Institute of Food Research (IFR) and John Innes Centre, both based in Norwich.

Science minister David Willetts praised the "fantastic achievement" of the scientists.