Broccoli can significantly reduce your risk of developing cancers if you don’t destroy the enzyme myrosinase – you can only do this effectively by steaming the vegetable lightly. Overcook it and the health benefits will be considerably undermined, researchers from the University of Illinois wrote in Nutrition and Cancer.

If you add broccoli sprouts to your dish you could be doubling its anticancer properties.

Researchers have long been writing about the health benefits of broccoli, particularly one of its ingredients – sulforphane, which is thought to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer qualities. The authors warn that depending on broccoli powder supplements alone will not have anywhere near the same benefits, and neither will overcooking the vegetable.

The longer you cook broccoli the more you destroy myrosinase, a key enzyme in the formation of sulforaphane. Broccoli powder does not contain myrosinase.

Author Jenna Cramer said you can enhance the powder’s effectiveness by adding broccoli sprouts. Cramer and team wondered whether sulforaphane formation and absorption could be enhanced if individuals consumed broccoli powder and sprouts together.

They asked four healthy males to eat four meals each. Each meal contained either:

  • Dry cereal and yogurt
  • Dry cereal, yogurt, and 2 grams of broccoli shoots
  • Dry cereal, yogurt, and 2 grams of broccoli powder
  • Dry cereal, yogurt, 2 grams of broccoli powder, plus 2 grams of broccoli shoots

After the meals, urine and blood samples were collected from each participant.

They found that levels of sulforaphane were nearly twice as high when the participants had eaten a meal containing both broccoli sprouts and powder together.

The authors reported that myrosinase, which is found naturally in the broccoli sprouts, formed sulforaphane from a sulforaphane precursor in the broccoli powder, as well as from the broccoli sprouts.

Scientists believe sulforaphane protects us from bacterial damage in the intestinal tract which can eventually lead to the development of stomach ulcers and cancer. Ingredients in broccoli are said to lower your risk of developing breast and (smoker’s) lung cancers, as well as heart disease.

The authors concluded:

“Combining broccoli sprouts with the broccoli powder enhanced SF absorption from broccoli powder, offering the potential for development of foods that modify the health impact of broccoli products.”

Cambridge University Hospitals scientists reported that broccoli, turmeric, pomegranate and green tea may prevent or halt prostate cancer, the number one cancer among men in the USA and UK.

Written by Christian Nordqvist