What Your Mom Didn’t Tell You About Broccoli

 

1. You’re cooking it to death

A recent Wakefield Research survey found that 76% of Americans cook broccoli for way too long—10 minutes or more—and 13% think high heat will actually activate its healthy enzymes. 

In fact, it’s just the opposite: Long, hot blasts of heat degrade essential nutrients and deplete the valuable phytonutrient glucoraphanin, which protects against oxidation and cellular stress. 

To max broccoli’s benefits, follow these cooking steps: 

1. Cut florets into small pieces and slice stems thinly to rupture cell walls, allowing the enzyme myrosinase, a precursor to glucoraphanin, to form.

2. Squeeze a little lemon juice over chopped broccoli to help activate even more myrosinase.

3. Let broccoli sit for 5 minutes for maximum enzyme creation.

4. Steam the broccoli for up to 5 minutes on stove or in microwave till it turns bright green.

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2. There’s a new “super” broc coming to town

In the early ’80s, British scientists went on a global expedition to find wild broccoli varieties with more phytonutrients. In Italy, they came upon one with naturally souped-up glucoraphanin. They naturally cross-pollinated it with regular broccoli, and eventually one of its descendants birthed a new broccoli that’s grown in California and is now on the market.

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Dubbed Beneforté, the hybrid has two to three times more glucoraphanin than regular broc, so eating just 1.5 cups a week (word on the street is it tastes like regular broccoli) can lower LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol 6% in just 12 weeks, independent U. of Reading research found. 

Beneforté comes washed and trimmed in breathable bags to extend freshness. Expect it here early next year. 

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3. Sprouts do your mouth a favor

Don’t want to gnaw on a head of broccoli tonight? Add some crisp broccoli sprouts to your salad or sandwich, or just eat them plain. It’s a smart move: Broc sprouts grown for only three days can have up to 100 times more glucoraphanin than mature broccoli heads. 

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Plus, an extract made from sprouts can reduce the number and frequency of oral cancer tumors, a University of Pittsburgh study on mice has shown. So our anticarcinogen arsenal may soon have one more weapon.

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Here’s how to grow your own sprouts:

​1. Rinse 3 tbsp organic seeds (available online). Place in bowl of water; soak 6–24 hours. Drain, then rinse again. 

2. Put wet paper towels in bottom of a sterilized container; sprinkle a thin layer of seeds on top. Cover w/plastic wrap w/air holes.

3. Place near window (not in direct sun).

4. When thick growth has tiny leaves (usually 3–5 days) rinse & remove seed hulls.