Super broccoli debuts, but what's so super about it?

In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011, a pack of Beneforte super broccoli is shown at a branch of Marks & Spencer in London. The new variety was bred to contain two to three times the normal amount of glucoraphanin, a nutrient believed to help ward off heart disease. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) AP

broccoli, super broccoli
A pack of Beneforte super broccoli is shown at a branch of Marks & Spencer in London. The broccoli contains up to three times the amount of glucoraphanin, a nutrient thought to prevent heart disease.
AP
(CBS/AP) When it comes to so-called "superfoods," people often think of antioxidant-rich berries.

Meet "super broccoli."

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British scientists have created a super breed of the love-it or hate-it vegetable that contains nearly three times the normal amount of glucoraphanin - a plant nutrient thought to prevent heart disease by breaking down fat in the body.

"When you eat this broccoli ... you get a reduction in cholesterol in your bloodstream," said Richard Mithen, who led the team of scientists who developed the broccoli at the Institute for Food Research in Norwich, England.

To create the vegetable, Mithen's team cross-bred traditional British broccoli with a wild Sicilian variety that has no flowery head, but packs a big dose of glucoraphanin.

It took nearly 14 years, but the enhanced hybrid was produced and granted a patent by European authorities, allowing it to hit British store shelves this month. It's also been sold in select stores in California and Texas, and is expected to be rolled out across the U.S. this fall.

How does super broccoli taste?

Its creators said it should taste slightly sweeter, but an AP reporter who tasted a hunk said it tasted the like regular broccoli.

Super broccoli isn't the only nutrient-packed vegetable to hit shelves. Producers have increasingly been injecting extra nutrients into produce. The British line of super vegetables also includes vitamin D-packed mushrooms and selenium-infused tomatoes and potatoes.

High quantities of vitamin D and selenium can be toxic, but there's not enough research to know if anyone could overdose on glucoraphanin.

Mithen and colleagues are conducting human trials comparing the heart health of people eating the super broccoli versus those who eat regular broccoli or no broccoli.

"There's a lot of circumstantial evidence that points to (glucoraphanin and related compounds) as the most important preventive agents for (heart attacks) and certain cancers, so it's a reasonable thing to do," said Lars Ove Dragsted, a nutrition professor at the University of Copenhagen.

But some experts downplayed super broccoli's health benefits, saying it won't fight things like smoking or not exercising.

Said Glenys Jones, a nutritionist at Britain's Medical Research Council, "Eating this new broccoli is not going to counteract your bad habits."

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