Eating broccoli became something important to me after I became interested in probiotic foods, as it is a vegetable often associated with preserving a good intestinal flora. It didn’t take long before I found out that there is a “right” way to prepare and eat broccoli; a way that preserves the benefits that this incredibly rich food can offer us. I will briefly outline what I learned in my research.
what's so great about broccoli?
Broccoli is a vegetable of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes for example brussels sprouts, mustard and cabbage. The vegetables that belong to this family are a rich in Glucosinolate, a component that is turned into Sulforaphane when the plant suffers some damage. Sulforaphane is a small organic molecule with anti-cancer anti-cancer and anti-inflamatory activity, associated with anti-aging processes (through the prevention of DNA damage by UV light), among many other benefits.
Sulforaphane is produced by means of an enzyme called Myrosinase. How does that happen? When the plant suffers a damage (for example, chewing or cutting) this enzyme comes into contact with Glucoraphanine (a Glucosinalate), and converts it into Sulforaphane.
The main issue is: although Sulforaphane is heat resistant, the enzyme myrosinase isn’t. This means that if the first thing you do when you buy your vegetables is to bring them to the heat, you are preventing myrosinase from hydrolyzing the glycosinates in Sulphorophane.
Thus, to avoid the loss of Sulphorophane, the damage must be caused before exposure to heat, i.e. when the enzyme is still available.
Therefore, you should cut the broccoli and leave it to rest for about 50 minutes in water. Resting time is also a factor in increasing bio-availability. Once this is done, boiling, steaming or taking it to the oven will no longer hinder the benefits associated with Sulphorophane, since the molecules have already been available.
An interesting way to prepare broccoli and other vegetables of this family is to use them in soups and salads. In the case of soups, you can grind it with a little water. Leave it to rest for 50 minutes, then add the other ingredients and take it to the fire.
When I bring the broccoli from the supermarket, I cut and separate a part in a small container. During the week, I add it raw to the salads.
But if you are not a enthusiast of eating raw broccoli or doing the whole process in advance of the preparation, there is still a way to potentialize the formation of Sulphorophane during the cooking process. This is what this study has shown: adding a teaspoon of mustard seed powder to broccoli cooking water is associated with a significant increase in the bioavailability of Sulphorophane.
It is also widely known that the highest levels of bioavailability of Sulforaphane are found not in broccoli in its adult form, but rather in sprout form. Here you can read more about the benefits of broccoli sprouts – many of which are directly associated with Sulphorophane. This video shows how to do so.
An option worthy to be mentioned are the supplements. In this podcast, Dr. Rhonda Patrick explains that there are few scientifically validated supplements since Sulforophane is a relatively unstable molecule. They are: Avmacol and Prostaphane. However, as she emphasizes, obtaining Suforophane from supplements is not compared to obtaining it from sprouts, due to the high cost of scientifically validated products.
Dr. Patrick also presents a simple way to triple the Sulphorophane’s bioavailability in sprouts. Heat the sprouts for ten minutes at 70 degrees Celsius, or in the case of mature broccoli, warm for ten minutes at 60 degrees Celsius – as in this case the enzyme myrosinase is more sensitive to heat.
So, now that you’ve learned that the Brassicaceae family vegetables as our beloved broccoli are nutritionally rich + got to know some tips to prepare them properly, let’s cook! Soon I will link here some recipes with those wonderful vegetables nature has given us <3 Hope you’ve enjoyed my research! If you have any tips, literature to add, or if it was useful for you, let me know in the comments!