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  • Writer's pictureTina Deas

Broccoli - Are you eating it right?

If you immediately cook your Broccoli after chopping you will be missing out on its amazing health giving benefits!

Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous family along with cauliflower, cabbage, rocket, kale, bok choy, brussel sprouts, radishes and watercress. This family of vegetables contains compounds necessary for the maintenance of your body’s intestinal defences and cancer fighting properties.

Did you know that our greatest exposure to the outside world is through the tissue-paper thin lining of our intestines? They have to be this thin to allow nutrients to pass through and to absorb fluids and nutrition. With such a fragile layer between our sterile core and the chaos of the outside world be need to have a good defence mechanism in place to keep out the bad. This is called our immune system.

We may have been told to eat our greens as children because “they are good for you” but did our parents really know why?

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables have cancer fighting properties

Boost Your Immune System

Did you know that our immune system protects us when whilst we are eating our greens?

Broccoli as with all other cruciferous vegetables boost our immune system. They protect us against pollutants in the environment and pathogens which are the micro organisms found in food that cause disease. This is because we have evolved over millions of years from eating mostly weeds and wild plants including dark green leafy vegetables.

Our bodies have evolved to equate vegetables with mealtimes. Vegetables’ presence in the gut works as a signal to upkeep our immune systems which means that if we don’t eat plants with each meal we may be undermining our body’s strategy to protect us.

Cancer Fighting Properties

When people are told that they are cancer free, it may mean that their tumours have gone but if their stem cells are cancerous unfortunately, tumours still might reappear at some stage. Stem cells are the body’s raw materials – the parents from which all cells with specialised functions are generated. Stem cells are the critical component of the body’s repair system including regenerating and growing skin, bone, muscle and breast tissue.

Unfortunately if our stem cells are cancerous, instead of building healthy tissue they can build tumours so treatments need to target the cancerous stem cells at the root of the cancer. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain Sulforaphane, a dietary component that has been shown to suppress the ability of breast cancer stem cells to form tumours. So get eating lots of broccoli.

The magic compound, Sulforaphane, in broccoli can only become activated when it is mixed with an enzyme called Myrosinase. And this cancer fighter is deactivated by cooking if you chop and then cook your broccoli straight away.

When raw broccoli or any other cruciferous vegetables are chopped or chewed the Sulforaphane precursor mixes with the Myrosinase enzyme and Sulforaphane is created as the vegetable sits on the cutting board or lies in your upper stomach waiting to be digested.

Chill your broccoli for 40 minutes after chopping before you cook

Chop and Chill for Best Results

In order to make sure that you are getting this magic immune boosting and cancer fighting benefits of this veggie, all you need to do is make sure that you "Chop and Chill". Chop your broccoli, cauliflower or any other cruciferous vegetable and then wait 40 minutes - this means that you are maximising the Sulforaphane production - after 40 minutes it will have already been made and the enzyme has already done its jobs so you can cook your veggies however and for how long you want.

Sadly frozen broccoli, even though it is pre-chopped lacks the ability to form the magic Sulforaphane because the florets have been blanched before they are frozen. This is done to prolong the shelf life by deactivating enzymes - because the enzyme is inert - no matter how long you wait after removing from the freezer – no Sulforaphane is going to be made.

All you need to do when you next buy your fresh broccoli, cauliflower and sprouts, is either buy them pre-chopped or simply chop them up and store them in the fridge pre-prepared and ready to cook. This means that you will always activate the amazing immune boosting and cancer fighting benefits of these versatile and tasty veggies.

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