It is now known that broccoli contains certain compounds that have powerful anti-cancer properties. But did you know that you can increase the effects of broccoli even more if you eat it in combination with certain foods?
The formation of mustard oils in broccoli
The cruciferous plant family (Brassicaceae), which also includes broccoli, is known for its special ingredients – the so-called mustard oil glycosides. Mustard, radish, broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables make these mustard oil glycosides to protect themselves from predators. For example, as soon as an insect nibbles at the plant, these mustard oil glycosides are converted by an enzyme – the so-called myrosinase – into mustard oils, which are usually spicy. These mustard oils drive away predators and thus protect the plant. This is where the pungent taste comes from, for example, when you bite into a radish.
Various substances are referred to as mustard oils, which, depending on their composition, sometimes taste more or less spicy. Mustard oils, which are formed in broccoli, hardly taste pungent – maybe a bit bitter. But these mustard oils are also able to protect the plant from herbivores.
The mustard oil sulforaphane in broccoli
A certain mustard oil called sulforaphane, which is mainly found in broccoli, can not only protect the plant from predators; Apparently, sulforaphane can also help us humans prevent cancer. Sulforaphane has been intensively studied by science in recent years and its cancer-fighting properties have been repeatedly confirmed.
Recent studies have primarily dealt with the question of how to best benefit from the positive properties of sulforaphane through diet.
Broccoli and foods rich in myrosinase
For example, the study by Professor Jenna M. Cramer and her colleagues from Urbana Champaign’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois (UIUC) addressed the question of whether sulforaphane formation in broccoli can be increased if more myrosinase-enzyme is present.
Because broccoli alone – especially if it is overcooked – contains very little myrosinase. The scientists, therefore, compared the anti-cancer effects of broccoli alone with those of broccoli in combination with other myrosinase-rich foods.
Our enzymes in the intestinal flora are also able to convert the mustard oil glycosides in broccoli into sulforaphane, but the researchers were still able to see that the positive effects of broccoli can be increased by feeding it with myrosinase-rich foods such as broccoli sprouts combined.
In various experiments, such combinations not only resulted in more sulforaphane entering the blood, but also in the sulforaphane circulating in the blood for longer. The combination of broccoli with myrosinase-rich foods also resulted in sulforaphane being absorbed from the upper intestine instead of the lower intestine. Of course, better absorption of sulforaphane also means better anti-cancer effects. Elizabeth Jeffery, who was involved in the study, also stated:
To harness the vegetable’s cancer-fighting properties, add broccoli sprouts, mustard, horseradish, or wasabi to the broccoli.
She also added that cabbage, arugula, watercress, and other cruciferous vegetables combined with broccoli also had this effect.
Can you eat broccoli raw?
Since cooking broccoli not only destroys most of the enzymes but also the sulforaphane itself, broccoli should always be steamed very gently. In general, you should always make sure that you use fresh vegetables, as fresh vegetables have the highest content of secondary plant compounds such as sulforaphane and also the highest enzyme content. If you then sprinkle broccoli sprouts over the steamed broccoli, you will achieve an even higher sulforaphane intake.
If you want, you can also eat broccoli raw – broccoli or cauliflower are very good for a salad, for example.
Broccoli Cauliflower Salad
For a broccoli salad you can use whole washed broccoli, just cut off the hard and woody parts of the stalk. The upper part of the broccoli is cut into very fine florets, you can grate the stalk. Do the same with the cauliflower. Depending on your taste, you can also grate an apple and dress the broccoli and cauliflower salad with almonds, broccoli sprouts, honey, salt, pepper, white balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.
Broccoli also tastes very good as a salad without cauliflower in combination with apple, rocket, and pine nuts. There are no limits to creativity here.
Raw broccoli and broccoli sprouts are also great to incorporate into various smoothie recipes. Not only green leafy vegetables but also broccoli, carrots, and fruits are delicious and extremely healthy ingredients for smoothies. For example, you can mix the broccoli florets of broccoli together with a tablespoon of broccoli sprouts, a tablespoon of almond butter, a carrot, some spinach, an apple, two oranges, and some water and make a great vital smoothie with many valuable ingredients.
The healthy fats in almonds make it easier for the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins from vegetables. So it’s always good to add ingredients like almond butter, coconut oil, or avocados to a smoothie that contains high-quality fats in which vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, or vitamin K can dissolve.
Smoothies are very versatile and are ideal for supplying the body with many nutrients, vital substances, and minerals.
Broccoli sprouts are characterized by the fact that they have a particularly high content of myrosinase and thus also of sulforaphane. You can grow your own broccoli sprouts from broccoli seeds at home.
However, if you don’t have the time, space, or patience for this, you can also buy broccoli sprout powder. For example, Broccoraphan is a high-quality broccoli sprout powder made from young broccoli plants. Through certain, gentle manufacturing processes, the enzymes and plant components of the broccoli are preserved and can thus develop their full effect.
As already mentioned, broccoli sprouts can be added to salads, soups, or smoothies. Give it a try and benefit from its cancer-preventing properties.