Poor broccoli gets a bad rap a lot of the time. Despite its many health benefits, for most of us, it’s right up there on our “least favourite veggies” list alongside Brussels sprouts. But there could be another, very important, reason to embrace the vibrant green vegetable. A new study from the University of Illinois reports that including broccoli in the diet could reduce your risk of liver cancer. While previous studies have made links between broccoli consumption and a reduced risk of colon, prostate and breast cancer, this is the first time its affect on liver health has been observed.

“The normal story about broccoli and health is that it can protect against a number of different cancers. But nobody had looked at liver cancer,” says Elizabeth Jeffery, a U of I emeritus professor of nutrition told Science Daily. “We decided that liver cancer needed to be studied particularly because of the obesity epidemic in the U.S. It is already in the literature that obesity enhances the risk for liver cancer and this is particularly true for men. They have almost a 5-fold greater risk for liver cancer if they are obese.”

The study compared two groups of mice with liver cancer, with one group consuming a diet including broccoli and the other consuming a typical Western diet (without broccoli). The results showed that the mice that consumed broccoli had a reduction in the number of cancerous nodules in the liver.

The study also observed liver health by looking at the amount of fat on the liver. While the addition of broccoli didn’t make the mice any thinner, those that consumed broccoli didn’t experience as much fat uptake into the liver. Ultimately, broccoli made them healthier.

Previous research suggests that the best way to consume broccoli is freshly chopped or lightly steamed in order to reap the most health benefits. For those who aren’t so keen on broccoli, think of it and its side kicks as a natural dose of disease prevention. Plus, broccoli is like a sponge, add it to a casserole, curry or slow cooked meal (right at the end so you don’t cook away the nutrients) and it’ll take on all those beautiful flavours.