A cancer-fighting 'superbroccoli' developed by scientists in Norfolk has gone on sale in UK shops.

The new broccoli, called Beneforte, contains higher levels of a health-giving nutrient.

Around three times the level of glucoraphanin – a chemical believed to help halt cell division associated with some early-stage cancers – is present in Beneforte compared with standard broccoli.

The scientists began the project in 1983, and used conventional cross-breeding techniques as opposed to genetic engineering.

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The vegetable looks the same as normal broccoli but it is thought it will protect against heart disease as well as some types of cancer.

It is now on sale in Marks & Spencer stores and will hit the shelves of other supermarkets from next year.

Glucoraphanin turns into the bioactive compound sulphoraphane once in the stomach, and then circulates in the bloodstream.

Tests suggest that sulphoraphane reduces chronic inflammation and boosts antioxidants, as well as helping fight cancer-causing cell division.

Broccoli is believed to be especially effective against bowel and prostate cancers.

Professor Richard Mithen, from the Institute of Food Research, said: "Our research has given new insights into the role of broccoli and other similar vegetables in promoting health, and has shown how this understanding can lead to the development of potentially more nutritious varieties of our familiar vegetables."