Thursday, September 25, 2014

Better-For-You Broccoli

Most people are well aware that broccoli is one of the healthiest veggies out there.  It also happens to be cheap and delicious.

I always keep some of these beauties in my fridge.

What you may not know is that you could be unintentionally cheating yourself out of broccoli's most powerful health benefits every time you prepare it.

The active ingredient in broccoli, sulforaphane, does wonders for our bodies.  It protects the brain, supports eyesight, detoxifies, reduces inflammation, improves the skin, and prevents cancer.

Unfortunately, much of the enzyme needed to produce this compound is destroyed when broccoli is cooked.  No enzyme means no sulforaphane, therefore no amazing health benefits.  This is also true for other cruciferous veggies, like cauliflower and brussels sprouts.

One easy solution to this problem is to eat our veggies raw.  This way, the enzyme doesn't get destroyed and all of the sulforaphane is produced.

I'm okay with an occasional raw broccoli floret here or there, but most of the time it just doesn't cut it for me.  I can eat veggies for days, but please roast them in some olive oil and sea salt first.
That's the stuff. 

Luckily, there are a couple of ways to eat our broccoli cooked while still retaining the nutritional benefits.  Dr. Michael Greger does a great job of explaining it in this recent video.

One easy strategy is to chop the broccoli up ahead of time.  When the sulforaphane precursor mixes with the enzyme, after some time sulforaphane is born.  Once the sulforaphane is created, you can cook the broccoli all you want without losing it.  You just simply wait about 40 minutes between chopping and cooking.
Frozen broccoli, however, lacks the ability to form sulforaphane even if pre-chopped, due to the fact that it has already been blanched.  It has plenty of the sulforaphane precursor, but the enzyme was already destroyed before it was packaged.

That's where strategy #2 comes into play.  Since mustard powder (along with horseradish and wasabi) actually contains the needed enzyme, sulforaphane can be created by simply sprinkling a little of this seasoning onto your cooked broccoli. You can also use this method if you just don't have time to pre-chop.  It only takes a tiny pinch of the powder, and I actually really like the flavor it adds.
This dish we had earlier this week of black beans, roasted broccoli, and Daiya cheese stuffed inside an acorn squash was a real winner.  I went ahead and pre-chopped the broccoli and added a little mustard powder, just to cover my bases.
Ever since I found out about this mustard powder miracle, I've been sprinkling it on to any and every cruciferous vegetable I see.  It would be silly to let all of the amazing benefits of sulforaphane just go to waste!


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