Study after study continues to show that eating broccoli helps to prevent and treat cancer. And a new study out of the University of Illinois (U of I) says that combining broccoli with broccoli sprouts nearly doubles the cruciferous vegetable’s anti-cancer effects.
“Broccoli, prepared correctly, is an extremely potent cancer-fighting agent — three to five servings a week are enough to have an effect,” said Elizabeth Jeffery, a U of I professor of nutrition that worked on the study. “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.”
Previous research on the cancer-preventing benefits of broccoli have found that overcooking broccoli results in the elimination of up to 90 percent of the vegetable’s anti-cancer compounds. (https://dreddymd.com/2017/03/02/cooking-broccoli-destroys-90-percent-of-anti-cancer-compound-sulforaphane/). However, gently cooking broccoli in a steamer, not in the microwave, can potentially unlock more of its anti-cancer compounds than are present when eating the vegetable raw.
Jeffrey and her colleagues compared blood levels of sulforaphane among a group of men who ate meals containing either broccoli sprouts alone, broccoli powder alone, or both combined. They found that in just three hours after finishing their meals, participants who ate both the powder and the sprouts had nearly twice as much of the anti-cancer substance in their systems than the two other groups did.
“There was almost a twofold increase in sulforaphane absorption when sprouts and powder were eaten together,” said Jeffrey. “It changed the way the subjects metabolized the powder. We saw plasma and urine metabolites much earlier and at much higher levels than when either was eaten alone.”
Jeffrey and her team say that combining other sulforaphane-rich foods like mustard, radishes, arugula, and wasabi, along with broccoli and broccoli sprouts, will increase the benefits even further. But she warns that taking certain broccoli supplements in lieu of actual broccoli and broccoli sprouts may not work, as some broccoli supplements do not contain the vital enzyme myrosinase that produces sulforaphane.
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