We know that broccoli is especially good for us. But apparently if we chew it more times before swallowing, it becomes even healthier. Is that true?
Yes! The more finely you chop your broccoli and the more times you chew it, the healthier it becomes.
One of the major compounds that provides the health benefits of broccoli is sulforaphane. But sulforaphane is produced only when the plant is injured – for example by an insect trying to eat it or a human cutting or chewing it. Therefore the more finely you chop your broccoli and the more times you chew it, the more sulforaphane it releases.
What’s so good about sulforaphane?
For insects, it’s not good – it can kill them. Sulforaphane acts like an insecticide and that’s why the broccoli produces it. That’s also why you might find the taste slightly more bitter when you chop it up. The sulforaphane is designed to make it less appealing to predators.
However it’s a small price to pay for the health benefits. Sulforaphane has been shown to help:
Protect against heart disease
Lower blood pressure
Improve brain function
Slow ageing and even fight cancer.
The good news is that sulforaphane doesn’t just occur in broccoli. It’s found in other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussel sprouts, watercress and bok choy.
What about broccoli sprouts?
Broccoli sprouts have more than 10 times the sulforaphane of broccoli but they’re hard to find. By all means toss them through your salad.
Should we eat broccoli cooked or raw?
Definitely raw or lightly steamed for no more than 3 minutes.
Boiling or microwaving broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables dramatically reduces the concentration of sulforaphane. One study found that raw broccoli had 10 times more sulforaphane than cooked broccoli and temperatures over 140 degrees celsius destroy the compound.
Try adding raw and finely sliced broccoli to salads with a handful of chopped nuts – delicious!
You can also lightly stir fry your broccoli, cabbage or kale. They taste great when they retain their crispness.
Click here to listen to my conversation about broccoli with Julie Clift on Brisbane and Gold Coast ABC radio.
Please forward this Health-e-Byte to anyone who overcooks their broccoli!
Read a related Healh-e-Byte Why mustard is a must