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When broccoli doesn't stop cancer.

There's a chemical in broccoli--and other cruciferous vegetables like arugula, cauliflower, and cabbage--that fights cancer if you eat enough of it often enough. But in some cases, the way people prepare it interferes with its protection. When does broccoli lose its ability to fight cancer? When the Food Industry messes with it.

In order to maintain its color, taste, and aroma, broccoli slated to be frozen is either blanched or heated to high temperatures. This inactivates enzymes that cause these undesirable changes. High heat destroys an enzyme called myrosinase. Myrosinase is needed to make a plant-based chemical called sulforaphane. And sulforaphane is the chemical that is protective against cancer.

In the first study of its kind, researchers at the University of Illinois found that while frozen broccoli may look and taste like the fresh vegetable, it contains little to no sulforaphane unless it has enough myrosinase.

The researchers tested three commercially frozen samples of broccoli both before and after cooking them. There was very little potential to form sulforaphane prior to cooking and none after they cooked it.

Next, they blanched broccoli at slightly lower temperatures than usual. They found that 82% of the myrosinase was preserved without lowering the quality of the vegetable.

Then the researchers had a bright idea. What would happen if they exposed frozen and blanched broccoli to tiny amounts of a related cruciferous vegetable like daikon radish? So they sprinkled 0.25% of daikon powder--so little that you can't see or taste it--on the frozen broccoli. Daikon is high in myrosinase. When they combined the two vegetables, broccoli's cancer-fighting capability returned.

So what can you do if you want to use frozen broccoli and you aren't willing to wait until the food industry changes the way they prepare it? Cook your broccoli with a little arugula or spicy mustard--vegetables that contain myrosinase. This minor adjustment will restore broccoli's beneficial anti-cancer properties.

University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Co. "Scientists put cancer-fighting power back into frozen broccoli." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 8 August 2013. Web. 12 August 2013.

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Publication:Women's Health Letter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2013
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