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If you want the health benefits of broccoli, you’ll have to eat it – forget supplements – and you’ll have to cook it right, as well. New research from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University has shown that supplements that purport to give you the nutritional equivalent of the actual vegetable fall short on certain key compounds.
The Oregon researchers found that the enzyme myrosinase is missing from broccoli supplements that aim to provide glucosinolates, a class of phytochemicals that many researchers believe may reduce the risk of prostate, breast, lung and colorectal cancer. Without myrosinase, you get little, if any, sulforaphane, one of two beneficial compounds found in the glucosinolates.
Studies suggest that sulforaphane may help detoxify carcinogens and activate tumor suppressor genes. Cooking broccoli too much can also rob you of myrosinase, without which you won’t get much in the way of sulforaphane.
To get adequate levels of these important phytonutrients, steam broccoli lightly for two or three minutes. It should still be a little crunchy. The same cooking recommendation applies to cauliflower, cabbage, kale and other cruciferous vegetables.