CBS Local — For many, the stigma about eating their broccoli goes all the way back to their childhood dinner table. A new study is giving stubborn eaters and veggie lovers a fresh reason to eat their mini-trees: it may be the key to a healthy gut.

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According to researchers at Penn State University, a diet filled with broccoli may help patients to cope with digestive issues such as leaky gut and colitis.

The Penn State study was carried out with mice, who were found to be much more capable of tolerating digestive issues than those who weren’t put on a broccoli diet. The scientists added that the results could be a breakthrough for humans, as digestive problems can reportedly lead to other severe issues.

“There are a lot of reasons we want to explore helping with gastrointestinal health and one reason is if you have problems, like a leaky gut, and start to suffer inflammation, that may then lead to other conditions, like arthritis and heart disease,” professor of agricultural sciences Gary Perdew said in a statement.

The scientists explained that eating broccoli produces a chemical compound known as indolocarbazole (ICZ). The compound is a catalyst that creates a healthy balance in the gut and immune system.

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Perdew and his team switched out 15 percent of the mice’s diet for broccoli, which would reportedly be the same as a human eating three-and-a-half cups of broccoli each day.

“Now, three-and-a-half cups is a lot, but it’s not a huge amount, really,” Perdew added, while also offering an alternative vegetable to try. “Brussels sprouts have three times as much (ICZ), which would mean a cup of Brussels sprouts could get us to the same level.”