I've got a riddle for you.
What's mighty, green, and capable of putting up one heck of a fight against heart disease and cancer?
If you guessed the Incredible Hulk...well...you're both silly and wrong. But, if you guessed broccoli, congratulations, you're the winner!
Now, you're probably no stranger to the many health benefits of broccoli. In fact, I'm sure that you're already eating your three to five servings of this immunity-boosting DNA-protecting vegetable a week...right?
It was just last year that I shared with you the exciting news about the health benefits of broccoli -- that a broccoli extract was found to kill human breast cancer cells. Then in June of this year I told you about a University of Oregon study that showed that the same extract from the vegetable appears to safely target and kill prostate cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact (unlike chemo which indiscriminately destroys both good and bad cells alike).
And, of course, packed with inflammation-dousing vitamin K and the acting antioxidant thioredoxin, broccoli is also a natural solution for warding off heart problems and other inflammation-driven diseases like Crohns.
Even more health benefits of broccoli -- disease-dousing nutrients
We know that nutrients in broccoli can help break down fat in the body, preventing it from gunking up our arteries. And we've also been aware for quite some time that broccoli can play an important role in warding off cancer.
Here's how it works....
When you eat broccoli the chewing action causes the enzyme myrosinase to come into contact with another important compound found in the broccoli called glucoraphanin. When this happens the phytochemical that's at the heart of the disease-fighting health benefits of broccoli...sulforaphane...is produced.
Sulforaphane...a plant-based chemical known as an isothiocyanate...has shown great promise as an anticancer compound. In fact, it's the same extract I mentioned earlier that's been shown to kill breast cancer cells and was found to target and kill prostate cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact.
Sometimes more IS better
Keep in mind, however, that while broccoli is a great source of sulforaphane (other good sources include the rest of the cruciferous vegetable family including cauliflower and Brussels sprouts) this happens to be a case where more does happen to be better.
And you can find that "more" in broccoli sprouts. It turns out that the three to four day old broccoli plants...known as broccoli sprouts...have 10 to 100 times more glucoraphanin...the precursor to the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane.
Now you may be tempted to seek out a broccoli supplement to get a concentrated shot of cancer-fighting sulphorphane.
My advice? Don't bother.
In general, whenever possible (sometimes soil depletion and poor farming practices can get in the way), I would prefer that you choose a whole food over a supplement. And in this case a study just completed in August of this year, found that the sulphoraphane found in the sprouts is indeed more bioavailable than that found in a broccoli supplement.
In other words, it appears that your body is able to use more of the compound when it comes in the form of the complete food.
The Super Veggie version of an old favorite
So, up until now broccoli sprouts probably were your best bet for getting the most glucoraphanin. However, British scientists have recently introduced a souped-up version of broccoli that's packing two to three times the typical amount of the nutrient in its green stalks.
In fact, if you happen to live in Texas, California, or the U.K. it's possible that you've already seen this super broccoli on your local grocery store shelves. You may not have even noticed any difference if you had eaten it except some people report a slightly sweeter taste due to the lower sulfur content of the vegetable.
Now, I can guess what you're probably thinking right about now because it was my first thought when I read the news too. You're likely wondering, "What kind of genetic modification hocus-pocus did they use to create this freakish vegetable?"
Well after doing a bit more research on the health benefits of broccoli I've got great news! The new broccoli was made using good old-fashioned traditional cross breeding techniques.
So, in other words, no GMO monkey business was used to bring us this enhanced version of the mighty green disease fighter so dig in!
The broccoli is being sold under the name Beneforte and if you haven't seen it in your grocery store yet hang tight...you should soon. Starting this fall the producers began rolling it out across the U.S.
Oh, and don't forget...lightly steam your broccoli to help it retain more of it's disease-fighting nutrients.