Now studies have been showing that cruciferous vegetables are among the main sources of anti cancer properties that can be experienced by eating fruits and vegetables. It has been found that eating these amazing veggies regularly have been linked with a lower risk of several cancers including bladder, breast, lung, gastrointestinal, and prostate. Whether in reducing the risk of cancer and providing protection, they also are observed in reducing chances of any recurrence as well. These veggies also have the most significant amount of phytochemical compounds that have anti-cancer effects. Their glucosinolates, (plant chemicals)release two classes of compounds called isothiocyanates and indoles. These both have very anticancer activities and the process of chewing the veggies crushes the plant cells and mixes up the various compartments in the cells that are normally separated from each other. The glucosinolates that were stored in one compartment of broccoli cells are then exposed to an enzyme called myrosinase. The main isothiocyanate, glucorphanin, suddently finds itself in the presence of myrosinase and immediately turns into sulforaphane, a powerful anti- cancer molecule. What an amazing veggie, and effect that can happen just by chewing the vegetables!
One thing to remember, though, is that these compounds are very soluble in water, so cooking crucifers in large amount of water for just 10 minutes cuts the quantity of glucosinolates in half so you might want to avoid that cooking process. The activity is also sensitive to heat, so prolonged cooking also reduces the effect of the enzyme. So the message here is to get the most positive effects is to cook those crucifers as little as possible, and in a minimum amount of water. Steaming or stir frying them is a good option. Avoid frozen cruciferous veggies as the blanching process reduces the enzyme activity. OR, there is another option I share below!
Another method besides eating these veggies raw to preserve these beneficial chemicals, is to chop your broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard and cauliflower first and then wait 40 minutes, and you can then cook them! The sulforaphane is already made and the enzyme has done its job in that time. Another option, is to sprinkle some mustard powder on your broccoli even after its heat processed as this significantly increases the formation of sulforaphane according to researchers from the University of Reading. And it doesn't take much to make a difference! Try adding just 1/4 teaspoon to a couple servings of broccoli and that will be enough! You could also add daikon radish, horseradish or wasabi - all cruciferous veggies packed with the enzyme and that would work as well! They found that even a quarter teaspoon of Daikon radish for seven cups of broccoli did the trick! AND adding a small amount of fresh greens to your cooked greens will work as well as the fresh greens have the enzyme myrosinase that can go to work on the cooked greens! Talk about amazing!
The sulforaphane activity is important as it seems to act directly on cancer cells and cause their death by triggering the apoptosis (cell suicide) process and speeds up the body's elimination of toxic substances as well. There are also other plant chemicals that are beneficial for the body including the indole-3-carbinols that are also cancer preventative and show an impact on estrogen metabolism. Just SO many reasons to load up on those cruciferous veggies EVERY DAY! If you would like some yummy recipes and ideas on how to prepare them, just let me know! Join into my plant based meal prep/cooking classes that are now online to learn more as well! Enjoy!