Cooked or raw? The best ways to eat this superfood to reduce your risk of cancer
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by: Edit Lang, staff writer | November 29, 2020
(NaturalHealth365) Our diet plays a vital role in preventing cancer. Members of the Brassica family of vegetables are particularly rich in a chemical compound, sulforaphane, renowned for its cancer-fighting abilities. Of all the cruciferous vegetables, broccoli is one of the best sources of sulforaphane.
Studies confirmed that sulforaphane lowers your risk of cancer through several mechanisms. One such mechanism is that it upregulates detoxification enzymes. But whether you eat your broccoli raw or cooked makes a dramatic impact on its cancer-fighting power.
Boost your liver’s detoxification to lower your risk of cancer
Proper detoxification is central to maintaining optimum health and cutting your cancer risks. An overburdened, sluggish, or fatty liver is often at the root of chronic conditions, including several cancer types. Besides minimizing our exposure to the multitude of environmental toxins and pollutants, we can do even more by nourishing our liver with the right foods.
The best way to ensure that our bodies effectively remove the vast number of toxins we are exposed to every day is by boosting our liver’s detoxifying enzymes. Sulforaphane, the most potent natural phase 2 enzyme inducer, is abundant in cruciferous vegetables. When broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts are a regular part of our diet, we can increase our liver’s ability to remove carcinogens and heavy metals from the blood.
Cooking destroys enzyme needed for sulforaphane formation
While broccoli is an excellent sulforaphane source, there is actually none in the plant until you begin to chew it. Instead, broccoli contains a sulforaphane precursor, called glucoraphanin. When you chew or chop the broccoli, the precursor begins mixing with an enzyme called myrosinase. Once activated, the myrosinase enzymes transform glucosinolates into sulforaphane.
Although glucoraphanin is heat-resistant and can withstand cooking, the myrosinase enzyme cannot. Heat destroys it. Without the enzyme, there is no sulforaphane. The destruction of the enzyme may explain why we get significant suppression of cancer cell growth from raw broccoli, but hardly anything from when it is cooked.
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Hate raw broccoli? Here is how to cook it to preserve its sulforaphane content
If you cannot find peace with the idea of munching on raw broccoli flowerets, there may be an effective way to cook broccoli and still benefit from its cancer-protective effects. In a 2018 study, a group of researchers set out to determine broccoli’s sulforaphane stability during the stir-frying process.
First, they pulverized the broccoli, chopping it into tiny pieces to activate as much myrosinase enzyme as possible. Then they split their samples into three groups:
- One raw
- One stir-fried for four minutes immediately after chopping
- One chopped and then left alone for 90 minutes before being stir-fried for four minutes
The results showed that the third sample group, where the chopped broccoli was left alone for 90 minutes, had 2.8 times higher sulforaphane content than the sample group stir-fried immediately after chopping.
Add mustard seed to increase sulforaphane formation on cooked broccoli
Although boiling broccoli deactivates the enzyme needed for sulforaphane formation, there is something you can do to preserve its cancer-protective compounds. Researchers found that when they added powdered mustard seeds to cooked broccoli, sulforaphane formation increased.
Adding only half a teaspoon of powdered mustard seeds was enough to provide a natural source of the enzyme and boost the broccoli’s cancer-fighting compound.
Broccoli does not get enough credit for all the goodness it offers to our health. Whether we choose to eat it raw, cooked, or stir-fried, we can preserve its sulforaphane content to help protect against free radicals, improve detoxification, and help prevent cancer.
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