Broccoli: All You Need To Know

Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 8.33.20 PMNicknamed “little trees” by children everywhere, broccoli sometimes gets a cold shoulder. Besides the basic knowledge we know about this super vegetable (has both vitamin C AND iron – you know what that means…. increased absorption!), there’s a lot to this mighty little plant that is otherwise unknown. Below, I list the benefits, cooking tips, PLUS the data to back it up.


  • Researchers studied smokers and non-smokers to test if this cruciferous vegetable could prevent further DNA damage. The smokers were asked to consume 25 times more broccoli (whoa) than the average American – which is a single stalk a day (oh). Over 10 days, they suffered 41 percent fewer DNA mutations in their bloodstream.
    *Riso P, Martin, Moller P, et al. DNA damage and repair activity after broccoli intake in young healthy smokers. Mutagenesis. 2010;26(6):595-602.
  • It boosts the activity of detoxifying enzymes in the liver. For example, people who consume broccoli clear caffeine more quickly (more coffee please).Liver function remained enhanced even weeks after the subjects consumed it helping detoxify against carcinogens (cooked meat). Subjects consumed 3 cups of broccoli (and brussels sprouts) for two weeks after feeding them pan-fried meat and taking a urine sample to measured the heterocyclic amines in the body.
    *Murray S., Lake BG, Gray S, et al. Effect on cruciferous vegetables consumption on heterocyclic aromatic amine metabolism in man. Carcinogenesis. 2001;22(9):1413-20.
  • Broccoli contains sulforaphane (an active component in cruciferous vegetables) which kills leukemia cells in a petri dish while having little impact on the growth of regular cells.
    *Suppipat K, Park CS, Shen Y, Zhu X, Lacorazza HD. Sulforaphane induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells. PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51251.

    To Enhance Sulforaphane in Broccoli

This compound needs the mixing of a precursor compound with an enzyme called myrosinase which gets inactivated by cooking. Though, when the raw vegetable is chopped, the sulforaphane precursor mixes with the myrosinase enzyme and TA-DA sulforaphane is created!

And get this, the precursor and the final product (our beloved sulforphane) is resistant to heat. So cut, wait 40 minutes to maximize this production.

Frozen broccoli? Mustard seeds have the enzyme while the frozen broccoli still has the precursor. Cooking broccoli with the powdered mustards seeds significantly increases its production.

For more information check out “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger.