According to research, broccoli ranks among the top 10 most hated vegetables in the UK. Yet if you’re among the 9% of the population that can’t stand the taste of broccoli, you could be missing out big time. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower, cabbage, and the dreaded Brussels sprout) contain a compound called glucoraphanin, which research hints could have powerful health benefits.
When plants containing glucoraphanin are damaged (such as when being chewed and digested), it comes into contact with enzymes that convert it into another compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane appears to have potent anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, and multiple studies suggest that supplementing with it or eating foods rich in its precursor might reduce risk of age-related diseases:
Much of this research was in animals, so let’s hope more human research is done soon. In the meantime, though, eating more cruciferous vegetables isn’t going to do you any harm…
Well, no physical harm anyway.
So, which veg should you go for if you want to get as much glucoraphanin as possible? Based on the available figures, broccoli comes out on top – especially broccoli sprouts, which tend to contain higher concentrations of glucoraphanin than mature plants. Failing that, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale are examples of other decent sources of glucoraphanin. Cooking can also affect glucoraphanin content, with temperatures above boiling resulting in its gradual degradation. I won’t advocate eating raw broccoli, but try not to overcook it.
Many companies sell supplements containing sulforaphane or some kind of broccoli extract, promising the benefits of broccoli without actually having to eat the stuff. However, you will miss out on some of the beneficial fibre, vitamins and minerals it has to offer.
Title image by Tyrrell Fitness And Nutrition, Upslash
Cruciferous vegetables intake and the risk of colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies https://doi.org/10.1093/annonc/mds601
Glucoraphanin: a broccoli sprout extract that ameliorates obesity-induced inflammation and insulin resistance https://doi.org/10.1080%2F21623945.2018.1474669
Sulforaphane - role in aging and neurodegeneration https://doi.org/10.1007%2Fs11357-019-00061-7
Sulforaphane Protects against Cardiovascular Disease via Nrf2 Activation https://doi.org/10.1155%2F2015%2F407580