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If we told you that broccoli is your best defence against cancer, will you stop running away from it?
When it comes to preventive and proactive health measures, the 2 most important pillars are healthy diet and exercise. But is it so simple to stick to a healthy diet? With excessive information being thrown about everywhere regarding fad diets and bizarre superfoods, it couldn’t get more confusing.
However, one element you must add in your diet is a member of the Cruciferae family – broccoli. Reason? It can protect you from cancer!
One might never have believed this, but for the research conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Led by Jed Fahey, a nutritional biochemist and an associate professor, along with a team of researchers in Europe and US, the study found that broccoli is amongst the world’s healthiest foods, and can remove cancer cells.
The study was initially conducted in the 1990s by Fahey’s predecessor Paul Talalay, the renowned pharmacology professor and experimental generalist at the research centre. Talalay had isolated the compound sulforaphane as a phytochemical, which is a chemical produced by plants.
Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin), vitamins C, E, and K, folate, and minerals. Other cruciferous veggies, such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts etc. might be more palatable, but are way behind broccoli in the benefits provided.
Although broccoli derives its fame from being a cancer-preventing superfood, it is also known to reduce the risk of arthritis, heart ailments, kidney disorders, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. The cancer-preventing compound sulforaphane boosts the body's protective enzymes, and flushes out cancer-causing chemicals. What’s more, broccoli contains fibre, glucoraphanin, phenolic compounds, diindolylmethane (DIM) and nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN).
Since the research outcome in the 1990s, the global consumption of broccoli has been on the rise.
Boiling and overcooking reduces the nutritional value of broccoli. Hence, we recommend quick steaming, which provides firmness and a vibrant green colour. The younger plants are richer sources of sulforaphane, so try and use those as far as possible. Try adding mustard seeds, which are myrosinase-rich food, to maximise the availability of sulforaphane. Try out different ways to use broccoli, such as in salads and as pizza toppings.
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