Spicy Broccoli Beats Cancer

Cancer preventing agents in broccoli work best with added spices

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Looking for a natural way to help prevent cancer? Look no further than adding a little spice to your broccoli.

The most healthful way to eat broccoli is to steam it lightly for two to four minutes, but many people cook it too long and this eliminates many of the health benefits. So, researchers have found a way to preserve the benefits in broccoli even after it's been over cooked.

"Add some wasabi or mustard to your broccoli to receive full health benefits."

Lead author, Jenna Cramer, a graduate student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that specific spices help broccoli enhance its cancer-preventing agent – Sulforaphane (SF).

Glucoraphanin (GRP), which is found in broccoli, is the inactive form of SF. GRP needs to be broken down before SF can be formed. Myrosinase is an enzyme that helps GRP become SF so that SF can prevent cancer.

The study included four healthy men between the ages of 18 and 30. Participants were required to complete baseline questionnaires to determine any dietary supplements, tobacco and other drug use. Blood and urine samples were taken at specific intervals before and after consumption of assigned meals.

Some ate meals with fresh broccoli sprouts alone (which contained myrosinase) and the others ate the broccoli sprouts with a GRP powder (the GRP doesn’t contain myrosinase). The control group ate dry cereal and fat-free yogurt with it.

The results indicated that a combination of myrosinase in the fresh broccoli sprouts and the added GRP powder provided increased anti-cancer benefits. The fresh broccoli sprouts lend their myrosinase to the GRP powder so both foods can produce more SF, Elizabeth Jeffery, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, says.

Other sources that contain myrosinase include mustard, horseradish, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and watercress. Adding these to foods that have GRP can help enhance SF production and thus prevent cancer.

This observational study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 13, 2011
Last Updated:
September 14, 2011