The best ways to cook broccoli for the highest health benefits
Yes, you should eat more broccoli.
This guest post is written by Moe Brandi who holds an MSc in Food Innovation and Health and specializes in bioactive components in foods that improve human health. Her work centers around natural ingredients and a strong belief that food can be healthy, delicious, and gratifying at the same time.
Preparing broccoli in the right way and amount will definitely boost your health on so many levels!
BackgroundThe general dietary recommendation is to eat fruit and vegetables, preferably 3-5 servings a day per ADA (1 serving = ½ cup cooked, 1 cup raw). In 2003, the World Health Organization /Food and Agriculture Organization (WHO/FAO) expert consultation concluded that fruit and vegetables ‘probably’, but ‘not convincingly’, reduce cancer risk. Possible exception: cruciferous vegetables in the Brassicaceae plant order.
These types of bitter vegetables are unique in having health-promoting compounds known as glucosinolates (also known as “mustard oil glucosides”). When ingested by humans, glucosinolates can help prevent cancer.
But which vegetables are cruciferous? Broccoli (the focus of this post), together with cauliflower, cabbage, kale, collards, brussel sprouts, horseradish, radish, watercress, and mustard.
How much broccoli should you eat to obtain maximum health benefits?When looking into literature, there are conflicting results on the functional amount of broccoli based on differences in the study population, design, and dietary assessment. Some studies recommend 2-3 servings of broccoli (or other cruciferous vegetables) per week. Others show results that broccoli once a week may be enough to reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers (like prostate cancer).
Overall, one to two servings of broccoli per week is definitely something that we recommend as part of a healthy diet. Cruciferous vegetables in general and eating or drinking other ‘bitter’ foods like olive oil, walnuts, garlic, grapefruit, green tea, bitter melon, dandelion greens, or citrus peel every day will do you good.
The best ways to cook broccoliBroccoli is part of a unique group of vegetables that most children and adults dislike.
Why is that!? It's probably due to not only its bitterness but also its natural content of sulfur, a powerful, healthy but also a gas-producing substance that can smell like rotten eggs. This smell is often enhanced by overcooking the broccoli, a mistake that many people make.
The high amount of chlorophyll found in broccoli (green pigment present in plants and algae that is essential in plant photosynthesis) can help neutralize the taste and smell of sulfur as well as its gas-producing effects. However, chlorophyll is very heat sensitive, so cooking your broccoli for more than 5 minutes at high heat will destroy its counteracting effects. Therefore, keep the cooking light and short to avoid chlorophyll as well as vitamin C loss!
We recommend blanching, steaming, or microwaving your broccoli shortly, if possible. I personally like to eat blanched broccoli with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of vanilla powder.
To optimize nutritional benefits and to make sure that the flavorful components in your broccoli are converted into health-promoting bioactive in your body, cooking is a great option.
Recipe: Broccoli soupThis soup recipe is very easy to prepare, and the bitterness of the broccoli is balanced with vanilla spice, making it very easy to like. The water in which the broccoli is cooked ends up blended into the final soup - this will result in a mineral-rich dish with very little nutrition lost. Never throw out the stems, these are the nutty and delicious parts with a lot of fiber. Add them to the soup or dish before the florets as they take a little longer to get tender.
- 1-2 tbsp of olive oil or algae oil
- 2 onions
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 6 cloves garlic
- 4 cups broccoli, chopped and divided into florets and stems
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 0.5 to 1 tsp pure vanilla seeds from the vanilla bean or vanilla extract (use less of vanilla extract)
- 1 cup flat-leaf parsley or cilantro (leaves or tender stems)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- Sea salt to taste
- 1 cup cashew cream or greek yogurt (homemade or from your favorite purveyor)
Chop onions and minced garlic. Prepare the broccoli into florets and chop the stems.
Heat oil in a large stockpot and add your chopped onions together with a little bit of salt. Cook until the onions are soft.
Add garlic together with broccoli stems and cook for another few minutes.
Following this, add the broth and bring the soup to a boil.
Next, add broccoli florets and simmer until bright green, for no more than 5 minutes (it’s important to not overcook them).
Blend the soup until smooth together with cashew cream, lemon juice, fresh herbs of your choice, and vanilla. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the soup into bowls - swirl leftover cashew cream into the soup and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Serve with toasted sourdough bread or rye bread.
1. Add green or red fresh chili if you like it spicy, this will also kickstart your metabolism. Add it to the stockpot together with the garlic and broccoli stems.
2. ½ cup nutritional yeast is also very delicious and suitable for vegetarians. Add it in the end together with cashew cream.