Eating one to two cups of lightly steamed broccoli a day would help asthmatics to breathe normally and prevent their condition from worsening, University of Melbourne research has determined.

The study finds consuming vegetables from the cruciferous family — which also includes kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and bok choy — reduces and even reverses lung damage.

The research, led by honours student Nadia Mazarakis and supervisor Dr Tom Karagiannis and Dr Simon Royce, could change the treatment for people who suffer from asthma and other breathing complaints.

Researcher Nadia Mazarakis

“Laboratory tests have shown that consumption of broccoli changes the formation of the airway and may make clear breathing easier for those who suffer from asthma and allergies,” said Ms Mazarakis.

"Blockages in the airway were reversed almost entirely.

“Using broccoli to treat asthma may also help for people who don’t respond to traditional treatment.”

The findings are part of the trend in healthcare research that looks to incorporate dietary treatments with prescription medication.

This research is still in the experimental phase and during an asthma attack or severe breathing issues normal medical advice must be followed. Ms Mazarakis will be presenting the research findings at the 2014 Undergraduate Research Conference about Food Safety in Shanghai, China.