Broccoli and Cancer Prevention

by Dr. David Williams
Filed Under: Diet
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

If you want the maximum anti-cancer benefits from broccoli, don’t overcook it. That’s what researchers at the University of Illinois recently found.

Broccoli provides an anti-cancer compound called sulforaphane, but its formation requires the presence of an enzyme called myrosinase. Overcooking destroys myrosinase. To preserve myrosinase, steam your broccoli for two to four minutes but no longer, or just eat it raw.

Three to five servings of broccoli are enough to reap the benefits, and it appears the number of servings could be cut in half if you consume broccoli sprouts at the same time as you eat your steamed or raw broccoli. (Not to mention, you can also double the amount of sulforaphane you produced and absorbed if you eat broccoli sprouts along broccoli.) Broccoli sprouts are abundant in myrosinase. 

For decades, the “health pioneers” praised the benefits of sprouts and for exactly this same reason. Long before the research data were available to support their claims, they realized sprouted grains and seeds were a highly concentrated source of protective enzymes, minerals, and nutrients. One recent study found broccoli sprouts had 50 times more sulforaphane than mature broccoli. 

I used to routinely have a batch of sprouts going at all times, but lately I’ve been purchasing them from the grocery store. Maybe it’s time to add a little variety back into my sprout consumption and start making my own again.

Now it's your turn: What's your favorite way to eat broccoli?

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