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.
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.
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.
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.
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.