Overcooking broccoli hurts health benefit

URBANA, Ill., Feb. 5 (UPI) -- A U.S. researcher says overcooking broccoli may hinder its cancer-fighting effect but cooking broccoli powder with its sprouts can double its power.

"Broccoli, prepared correctly, is an extremely potent cancer-fighting agent -- three to five servings a week are enough to have an effect," Elizabeth Jeffery of the University of Illinois says in a statement. "To get broccoli's benefits, though, the enzyme myrosinase has to be present; if it's not there, sulforaphane, broccoli's cancer-preventive and anti-inflammatory component, doesn't form.


"Steaming broccoli for 2 to 4 minutes is the perfect way to protect both the enzyme and the vegetable's nutrients."

Jeffery cautions overcooking destroys myrosinase. In addition, health-conscious consumers who cook with broccoli powder supplements may be missing out since the supplements may not contain the necessary enzyme.

However Jeffrey and study co-author Jenna Cramer suggest the sulforaphane potential in broccoli powder could be tapped into by adding broccoli sprouts -- which contain myrosinase in abundance.

Jeffry and Cramer are co-authors of a pilot study that determined the powder and sprouts eaten together created high levels of the desired sulforaphane metabolites not found when the powder or sprouts were eaten alone


"To increase the vegetable's benefits, you could sprinkle broccoli sprouts on your broccoli or make a mustard sauce to serve with broccoli," the researchers say.

The findings are published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer.

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