The Way You Cook Broccoli Does Make A Difference!

by Natalie on August 18, 2011

I was flipping through my University of Illinois alumni magazine (yes, I am probably the only one who actually reads these) and came across a really interesting article about broccoli.

I want to share a few things I learned with you.

Broccoli has always been a poster child for cancer fighting foods. It contains sulforaphane, a potent cancer fighting compound found in cruciferous vegetables. Eating three to five servings of broccoli per week decreases your cancer risk!

According to a study done at the University of Illinois, the way you cook the broccoli makes all the difference in its cancer fighting potential. Ok things are going to start sounding a bit sciency – but stay with me.

Broccoli has an enzyme called myrosinase. This enzyme is in charge of creating the potent cancer fighting compound sulforaphane. Prolonged heating will destroy the enzyme myrosinase and sulforaphane will never be formed. So basically, overcooking broccoli will decrease its ability to fight cancer. Darn!

Overcooking it may be a lot easier than you think. Elizabeth Jeffery, professor of nutrition at the U of I suggests only steaming broccoli for 2-4 minutes to protect both its enzymes and nutrients. I like to use this method when I put broccoli in my pesto sauce.

Another interesting tidbit I picked up from the article is that broccoli sprouts contain higher levels of the myrosinase enzyme than mature broccoli. Broccoli sprouts are very young broccoli plants. I have never seen them in stores but the U of I researchers suggest sprinkling them on your regular broccoli to boost its anti-cancer effects.

broccoli sprouts

Teaming other foods up with broccoli can help boost its benefits. These include mustard, radishes, arugula and wasabi. I have never tried any of these foods with broccoli but I suppose you could combine a few of them in a salad.

This is good information to know, but I don’t think it means that broccoli should only be eaten steamed. Remember, it is still very important to ENJOY your food, and lets be honest, broccoli would get old if you only ate it lightly steamed. On the other hand, if you only eat broccoli well done, I would say it is in your best interest to only give it a light steam once in awhile. I absolutely love roasted broccoli, but I want to receive the anti-cancer benefits so now I will change up my cooking methods.

If you found this interesting, let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment in the comments section below.


first photo by: Virtual Ern

second photo by: Julie

Marilyn August 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm

good to know!

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