Steaming broccoli protects its cancer-fighting properties

By Mariam Digges

Steaming broccoli protects its cancer-fighting properties
Steam – don't boil or microwave your broccoli to maximise its cancer-fighting properties.

We all believe that we’re doing our bodies a service by eating broccoli regularly.

But scientists say that broccoli loses its cancer-fighting properties when we boil or microwave it.

The University of Illinois researchers believe that the best way to preserve the vegetable’s nutrients is to steam it for no more than five minutes. This process brightens its green colour, which can enhance its sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting compound.

In contrast, boiling and microwaving broccoli for as little as one minute can completely destroy the broccoli’s myrosinase – the enzyme which is needed in order for sulforaphane to form.

“Past food processing has tended to focus on improving taste, visuals and microbiological safety,” said Dr Elizabeth Jeffery, a researcher at the University of Illinois.

“Now our task is to go further. Processing can ensure that the bioactives – the cancer protective compounds – arrive in your digestive system in a form the body can use.”

So the next time you buy the nutrient-rich green veg, hold off on throwing it into a pot of boiling water or the microwave.

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