Scientists have revealed the healthiest way to eat broccoli.
The vegetable contains a compound known as sulforaphane, which previous studies suggest helps to maintain people’s blood sugar levels and may even have anti-cancer properties.
Yet, sulforaphane’s benefits are destroyed within minutes of cooking and require broccoli to be ‘damaged’ before they can be absorbed.
A Chinese study suggests chopping the vegetable into 2mm pieces and letting them ‘sit’ for 90 minutes before gently stir-frying increases their sulforaphane levels by 2.8 times.
Although unclear exactly why this occurs, the researchers believe waiting before cooking chopped broccoli may allow sulforaphane to ‘develop’.
While such preparation may seem like a lot of trouble, past research suggests it may be worth the effort as sulforaphane is poorly absorbed when taken as a supplement.
Chopping broccoli into 2mm pieces and letting it sit may be the healthiest way to eat it
WHAT IS THE HEALTHIEST WAY TO COOK BROCCOLI?
Chopping broccoli into 2mm pieces and letting them ‘sit’ for 90 minutes before gently stir-frying increases their sulforaphane levels by 2.8 times, research suggests.
Previous studies show the compound sulforaphane helps to maintain people’s blood sugar levels and may even have anti-cancer properties.
Although unclear exactly why this occurs, researchers from Zhejiang University in China believe waiting before cooking chopped broccoli may allow sulforaphane to ‘develop’.
They add 30 minutes of sitting time may be sufficient.
It is important to chop broccoli as sulforaphane can only be absorbed if the vegetable is ‘damaged’.
How the research was carried out
The researchers, from Zhejiang University, bought several heads of broccoli from a local market.
The broccoli was chopped to activate the enzyme myrosinase, which plants have evolved to protect themselves against herbivores.
Myrosinase causes sulforaphane to become available for absorption.
The pulverised broccoli was then divided into three groups.
Some of was left as it was, some was immediately stir-fried for four minutes and the remainder sat for 90 minutes before also being cooked quickly over a high heat.
Waiting for 30 minutes may be sufficient
Although untested, the researchers believe 30 minutes may be a sufficient amount of time to allow raw, chopped broccoli to sit in order to ensure maximum sulforaphane absorption.
They are also investigating how to make the most of the vegetable’s nutritional benefits without having to do so much preparation.
The findings were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
The researchers found broccoli needs to be ‘damaged’ via chopping to release its nutrients
How else does broccoli boost health?
According to research released in October last year, a daily dose of broccoli could prevent everything from arthritis to heart disease by keeping your gut healthy.
Mice fed a diet supplemented with broccoli are better able to tolerate digestive issues, a study found.
This is thought to be due to cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower and kale, containing a substance that promotes gut health and barrier function, according to the researchers.
Maintaining a healthy intestinal lining could prevent leaky gut syndrome, which exposes the body to toxins and pathogens, they add.
Lead author Professor Gary Perdew from Penn State University, said: ‘There are a lot of reasons we want to explore helping with gastrointestinal health and one reason is if you have problems, like a leaky gut, and start to suffer inflammation, that may then lead to other conditions, like arthritis and heart disease.’
IS BROCCOLI GOOD FOR THE HEART?
Eating greens helps to give people a healthy heart, research suggested in October 2017.
Vitamin K, which is found in broccoli, maintains the size of the vital organ’s left ventricle, a study found, which is responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood around the body.
Insufficient levels of the vitamin cause the left ventricle to enlarge, the research adds.
Previous studies suggest large hearts do not pump blood as efficiently as they should, which can result in fatal heart attacks.
The more vitamin K a person has, the less likely they are to develop an enlarged heart, the current study found.
According to the trial’s researchers, their findings ‘clarify the importance of [vitamin K] intake to cardiovascular development’.
They add the results could ‘lead to [vitamin K] interventions in childhood aimed to improve cardiovascular development and to reduce the subsequent risk of [heart disease].’
The researchers, from Augusta University, analysed 766 healthy teenagers aged between 14 and 18 years old.
The study’s participants’ diet and activity levels were measured over seven days via self-reporting and devices that assess acceleration.
Their hearts’ structures and functions were investigated through ultrasound scans.