Super boost your superfood – brocolli (and other veg!)

cruciferous vegetables

We all know that vegetables are good for us right?  And lots of us know that cruciferous vegetables are really, really good for us!

For those who aren’t sure what vegetables count as cruciferous, they include broccoli, rocket, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy and cabbage.

Along with a host of vitamins and minerals, cruciferous vegetables provide us with a component called sulforaphane which is showing signs of being a promising anti-cancer agent.  In addition, sulforaphane may also help protect your brain and your eyesight, reduce nasal allergy inflammation, help manage type 2 diabetes and was recently found to successfully help treat autism.

Sulforaphane forms when raw broccoli (or other cruciferous veg) is chopped or chewed.  Then a sulforaphane precursor mixes with an enzyme called myrosinase and produces the sulforaphane.  The trouble is that this enzyme is inactivated by cooking!  However, both the precursor and the sulforaphane, once it’s been created, are resistant to heat.

Obviously, you could eat all your cruciferous veggies raw or in smoothies and then the veg will sit in your gut while the chemical reaction takes place but seriously, who wants a brussels sprout smoothie?

Another option would be to chop your broccoli (or brussels sprouts, kale, collards, cauliflower, or any other cruciferous vegetable) and then wait forty minutes, at which point you can cook it as much as you want. By  then, the sulforaphane has already been made, so the enzyme is no longer needed to achieve maximum benefit. It’s already done its job.

And what if you’re using frozen cruciferous veg?  Well this has been blanched so sorry, but frozen cruciferous veg lack the ability to form sulforaphane, again though, there’s a simple answer.  Remember, the precursor is resistant to heat so the frozen veg is still packed with this, it’s just missing the enzyme it needs.   We just need a way to add that back in.

Mustard is a cruciferous veg too and mustard seeds contain the necessary enzyme, sprinkle a pinch of ground mustard on your cooked broccoli and this significantly increases sulforaphane formation, woohoo!

So if you don’t have 40 minutes to spare between chopping and cooking, or if you’re using frozen greens just sprinkle your veg with mustard powder before you eat them.  All it takes is a pinch.

Daikon radishes, regular radishes, horseradish, and wasabi are all cruciferous vegetables and potentially have the same effect.

Ref: Greger, Michael. How Not To Die: Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease (p. 346). Pan Macmillan. Kindle Edition.