Getting the Most of Out of Broccoli

There's been a lot of discussion lately on supplements – what to take, what to skip and what interactions to be aware of.

Posted on | Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD | Comments ()

There's been a lot of discussion lately on supplements – what to take, what to skip and what interactions to be aware of.

As a dietitian, I've always thought that the best way to get your nutrients was through the food you ate, not the pills you popped.

Although a few nutrients are better absorbed through supplements (vitamin D for example), the majority of cancer-fighting, heart attack-preventing, and brain-strengthening compounds can be found right in your refrigerator. A new study in the October 11th issue of the journal PLoS Medicine found eating cruciferous vegetables – such as broccoli – in their whole form increases the absorption of cancer-fighting nutrients.

The study looked specifically at a key enzyme called myrosinase which is found in broccoli. The researchers determined that it was missing from most of the supplement forms of glucosinolates, a valuable phytochemical in cruciferous vegetables. Myrosinase is necessary for the formation of sulforaphane, the compound responsible for broccoli's super healthy benefits. Furthermore, the study found that, without the enzyme found in the whole food, the body absorbed 5 to 8 times less of these important components in broccoli. The researchers also found that myrosinase was destroyed with excessive cooking and recommended lightly steaming for the best results.

For the most cancer-fighting benefits from your broccoli, eat it often, eat it right and stop taking the supplement shortcut!

Blog written by Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD
Kristin Kirkpatrick is a registered dietitian and Wellness Manager for Cleveland Clinic’s Lifestyle 180 program. Kristin has...