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More evidence that spicing up broccoli boosts its cancer-fighting power
Date:9/13/2011

URBANA 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, suggests a new University of Illinois study.

"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," said Elizabeth Jeffery, a U of I professor of nutrition.

In the study, when fresh broccoli sprouts were eaten with broccoli powder, the scientists were able to measure bioactive compounds in the blood 30 minutes later. When these peaked at three hours, they were much higher when the foods were eaten together than when either was eaten alone. Urine samples corroborated the blood results, said Jenna Cramer, lead author of the study.

It's no secret that many people cook the benefits right out of broccoli instead of steaming it lightly for two to four minutes to protect its healthful properties, she said.

"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," she said.

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

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 said.

Other foods that will boost broccoli's benefits if they are paired together include radishes, cabbage, arugula, watercress, and Brussel
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Contact: Phyllis Picklesimer
p-pickle@illinois.edu
217-244-2827
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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