By Fiona Kenny, R.D., March/April 2009
Broccoli frequently earns a top spot on “superfoods” lists. This is partly because it delivers a healthy dose of sulforaphane, a compound thought to thwart cancer by helping to stimulate the body’s detoxifying enzymes. According to recent research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, raw broccoli provides significantly more of this beneficial nutrient than cooked. (Cooking locks sulforaphane in, making it unavailable to your body.) In the small study, men were given about 1 cup of broccoli, raw or cooked. Those who ate the raw broccoli absorbed sulforaphane faster and in higher amounts compared to those who ate it cooked. The findings add to growing evidence that links diets rich in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale and cauliflower, to lower rates of cancer.
Bottom Line: If you like broccoli, eat it raw: it’s more nutritious. Or, if you prefer it cooked, Martijn Vermeulen, Ph.D., the study’s lead researcher, suggests steaming it until it’s cooked but still crunchy. Some research suggests this method may keep sulforaphane available.