September 16, 2011

Fighting Cancer With Spicy Broccoli

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Out of the way, cheese! Broccoli and spice are the new duo! According to a new study, teaming fresh broccoli with a spicy food that contains the enzyme myrosinase significantly enhances each food's individual cancer-fighting power and ensures that absorption takes place in the upper part of the digestive system where you'll get the maximum health benefit.

"To get this effect, spice up your broccoli with broccoli sprouts, mustard, horseradish, or wasabi. The spicier, the better; that means it's being effective," Elizabeth Jeffery, professor of nutrition at University of Illinois, was quoted as saying.

Scientists measured bioactive compounds in the blood 30 minutes after fresh broccoli sprouts with broccoli powder were consumed. After three hours, bioactive compounds were much higher when the foods were eaten together as opposed to eaten separately. Urine samples corroborated the blood results, Jenna Cramer, the lead author of the study was quoted as saying.

According to Cramer, many people cook the health benefits of broccoli right out, as opposed to steaming it lightly for two to four minutes to protect its healthful properties.

"However, this study shows that even if broccoli is overcooked, you can still boost its benefits by pairing it with another food that contains myrosinase," Cramer was quoted as saying.

Myrosinase is the enzyme necessary to form sulforaphane, the vegetable's cancer-preventive component, co-author Margarita Teran-Garcia was quoted as explaining.

"Note what happened with the fresh broccoli sprouts and broccoli powder eaten in this experiment. The powder doesn't contain myrosinase, but it does contain the precursor to the anti-cancer agent sulforaphane. Eaten together, the sprouts were able to lend their myrosinase to the powder. As predicted, both foods produced sulforaphane and provided greater anti-cancer benefit," Jeffery was quoted as saying.

Other foods that will boost broccoli's benefits if they are paired together include radishes, cabbage, arugula, watercress, and Brussels sprouts.

"Here's another benefit of protecting and enhancing the myrosinase in your foods," Jeffery was quoted explaining,"If myrosinase is present, sulforaphane is released in the ilium, the first part of your digestive system. Absorption happens well and quickly there, which is why we saw bioactivity in 30 minutes."

In an earlier study by Jefferey, it showed that microbiota are capable of releasing sulforaphane in the lower gut. However, according to Jeffery, absorption happens more slowly in the colon than in the upper intestine.

Scientists say that as little as three to five servings of broccoli a week provide a cancer-protective benefit.

"But it pays to spice it up for added benefits and find ways to make it appealing so you don't mind eating it if you're not a broccoli fan. I add fresh broccoli sprouts to sandwiches and add them as one of my pizza toppings after the pie is out of the oven," Cramer was quoting as saying.

SOURCE: British Journal of Nutrition , published online September 14, 2011