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How You Cook the Food May Matter

Posted 11/11/2013

Posted in

  I am deeply skeptical of the context of this study, the suggestion that particular foods may have a cancer-fighting (note: no one is saying "cancer curing") role in our diets.Surely we all agree that the basics of a healthy diet are good for us in general; we know that we should eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. We know that we should limit red meat and alcohol and high calorie/low nutrition items (e.g. chocolate cake). What any of this has to specifically do with cancer, however, is a hotly debated topic.

  Given my basic skepticism, I was unsure whether to write about this today, but here it is. A research study from the University of Illinois, presented at the American Institute for Cancer Research's annual meeting, suggests that how you cook the broccoli may make a difference. Specifically vis a vis broccoli, the direction is that steaming is good, boiling or microwaving (my usual method) less so.

  Here is the start and then a link for your interest:

Research reveals how cooks can maximize fruits’ and vegetables’ cancer-fighting compounds

BETHESDA, MD — Steaming your broccoli for three to four minutes until it turns a
bright green will enhance its cancer- fighting compounds, according to new research
presented today at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) Annual
Research Conference.
The research finding was presented today at a session focused on the role of food
processing and preparation in the enhancement of cancer protection.
“Past food processing has tended to focus on improving taste, visuals and
microbiological safety,” said Eliz abeth Jeffery, PhD, a researcher at University of
Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. “Now our task is to go further. Processing can ensure
that the bioactives – the cancer protective compounds – arrive in your digestive
system in a form the body can use.”
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are a top source of sulforaphane, a phytochemical (naturally occurring plant compound) that has shown strong cancer- preventive actions in lab studies. The enzyme myrosinase in broccoli is needed for sufulforaphane to form. Destroy the myrosinase, and sufulforaphane cannot form.
A study by Jeffery that compared boiling, microwaving, and steaming found that steaming broccoli for up to five minutes was the best way to retain its myrosinase. Boiling and microwaving broccoli for one minute or less destroyed the majority of the enzyme.


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  • Claire Blum said:
    11/11/2013 5:51 PM

    Does this apply to any other veggies? I am also a big fan of the microwave, but will do what retains essential nutrients best.