To boost cancer-fighting benefits, eat broccoli with a side of sprouts

A new University of Illinois study provides convincing evidence that the way you prepare and eat your broccoli matters, and also suggests that pairing broccoli with broccoli sprouts may make the vegetable's anti-cancer effect almost twice as powerful.

"Broccoli, prepared correctly, is an extremely potent cancer-fighting agent - three to five servings a week are enough to have an effect," said study researcher Elizabeth Jeffery.

But to get all of broccoli's cancer-fighting benefits, it's important not to overcook it, which kills the enzyme myrosinase, which is necessary to form sulforaphane, broccoli's cancer-preventive and anti-inflammatory component, she stated.

However, broccoli sprouts contain myrosinase in abundance, and the study found that eating broccoli with broccoli sprouts boosts its benefits when compared to eating either food alone.

Other foods that contain sulforaphane and to pair with broccoli are mustard greens, radishes, arugula, and wasabi, she added. Try sprinkling broccoli sprouts on your broccoli for a power meal. And steam broccoli only for two to four minutes to protect both the enzyme and the vegetable's nutrients.

The study, announced January 27, is published in the January 2011 issue of Nutrition and Cancer.

Last October, researchers discovered that friendly bacteria in the gut, known as probiotics, work a crucial magic on digesting broccoli, helping to release and absorb sulforaphane into the body. So that broccoli really packs a punch, they suggest feeding the helpful bacteria in your gut with prebiotics, such as fiber, to encourage their proliferation. Another idea is to eat broccoli with probiotics, "combining, say, broccoli with a yogurt sauce that contains the hydrolyzing bacteria," said study researcher Michael Miller, also from the University of Illinois.

Read more on the latest research on broccoli's cancer-fighting powers:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=broccoli-fights-cancer-by-clearing-11-01-27

Learn more about broccoli sprouts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qcxUYpjPVc

 

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