(NaturalNews) Ample and well-established research has confirmed that consuming broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables is a great way to help prevent cancer. But new research published in the British Journal of Nutrition has revealed that pairing broccoli with other foods and spices rich in myrosinase, (one of the key anti-cancer compounds found in broccoli) significantly increases the vegetable's cancer-fighting abilities.
Jenna M. Cramer and her colleagues from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's (UIUC) Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition studied and compared the anti-cancer effects of eating broccoli alone, to those exhibited when eating broccoli in combination with other foods rich in myrosinase. Myrosinase is an enzyme necessary to convert glucoraphanin (GRP), which is not particularly beneficial, into sulforaphane (SF), the beneficial nutrient the body is able to absorb.
While broccoli alone, particularly when overcooked, contains little or no myrosinase, human digestive enzymes and flora are still capable of converting some the vegetable's GRP into SF. However, when myrosinase-rich foods like broccoli sprouts are added to the mix, the effect is remarkable, as seen with the team's final study results.
"To get the effect of anti-cancer benefits, spice up your broccoli with broccoli sprouts, mustard, horseradish, or wasabi," said Elizabeth Jeffery, a corresponding author to the study. She added that cabbage, arugula, watercress, and other cruciferous vegetables paired with broccoli can also do the trick. "The spicier the better, that means it's being effective."
Essentially, broccoli sprouts and other spices react with substances in cooked broccoli or broccoli powder to produce SF. And in tests, this reaction results not only in an added amount of SF created in the bloodstream, but also an effectively longer period of time during which it remains in the bloodstream to perform its vital anti-cancer work.
The addition of myrosinase into the equation also causes the digestive tract to absorb the anti-cancer compounds, earlier in the gut rather than later. This is crucial because absorption rates in the upper intestine are much higher than they are in the lower intestine, where most nutrients in food end up being assimilated.
"[I]t pays to spice (broccoli) 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," added Cramer. "I add fresh broccoli sprouts to sandwiches and add them as one of my pizza toppings after the pie is out of the oven."