Food of the Week is Broccoli

I use Google for my home page and one of the widgets that I have is “The World’s Healthiest Foods”. This week broccoli is the food of the weeks. So, what is the big deal about broccoli?

Broccoli originated in Italy and means cabbage sprout. In ancient Roman times it was developed from a wild cabbage.

It has cancer fighting phytonutrients and boosts the body’s detoxification enzymes. Sulforaphane found in broccoli can slow and/or even stop the growth of tumors. Researchers found that sulforaphane suppressed certain kinase enzymes that promote colon cancer.

The World’s Healthiest Foods states that:

“For about 20 years, we've known that many phytonutrients work as antioxidants to disarm free radicals before they can damage DNA, cell membranes and fat-containing molecules such as cholesterol. Now, new research is revealing that phytonutrients in broccoli work at a much deeper level. These compounds actually signal our genes to increase production of enzymes involved in detoxification, the cleansing process through which our bodies eliminate harmful compounds.”

Broccoli is also know to help infertility and fights birth defects.

“Especially if you are pregnant, be sure to eat broccoli. A cup of broccoli supplies 94 mcg of folic acid, a B-vitamin essential for proper cellular division because it is necessary in DNA synthesis. Without folic acid, the fetus' nervous system cells do not divide properly. Deficiency of folic acid during pregnancy has been linked to several birth defects, including neural tube defects like spina bifida. Despite folic acid's wide occurrence in food (it's name comes from the Latin word folium, meaning "foliage," because it's found in green leafy vegetables), folic acid deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world. “

How to cook broccoli and not lose all the cancer fighting, fertility enhancing, birth defect fighting properties?

"Microwaving broccoli resulted in a loss of 97%, 74% and 87% of its three major antioxidant compounds-flavonoids, sinapics and caffeoyl-quinic derivatives. In comparison, steaming broccoli resulted in a loss of only 11%, 0% and 8%, respectively, of the same antioxidants.

Study co-author, Dr. Cristina Garcia-Viguera, noted that "Most of the bioactive compounds are water-soluble; during heating, they leach in a high percentage into the cooking water. Because of this, it is recommended to cook vegetables in the minimum amount of water (as in steaming) in order to retain their nutritional benefits."

A second study, published in the same issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, provides similar evidence. In this study, Finnish researchers found that blanching vegetables prior to freezing caused losses of up to a third of their antioxidant content. Although slight further losses occurred during frozen storage, most bioactive compounds including antioxidants remained stable. The bottom line: how you prepare and cook your food may have a major impact on its nutrient-richness.

A third study, published in the British Medical Journal, checked to see how much of the B vitamin, folate, was retained after broccoli, spinach or potatoes were boiled or steamed. Boiling for typical time periods caused a loss of 56% of the folate in broccoli, and 51% of the folate in spinach, while boiling potatoes caused only minimal folate loss. Steaming spinach or broccoli, in contrast, caused no significant loss of folate.

The take home message: Boiling potatoes may be okay, but to get the most benefit from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, and greens like spinach, cook them lightly!"

Go to The World’s Healthiest Foods for more in-depth information and a warning about microwaving foods.For more articles like this to go .


In order to comment on, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.