We all know that some foods are healthier than others. Green vegetables are one of the shining examples of health foods. And we all know that you can undermine their benefits when you cover them in butter or deep fat fry them. But, other ways of cooking healthy foods can also impact their nutritional profile. Different methods of cooking them can change their properties. Researchers recently set out to learn the most beneficial way to cook broccoli.
Broccoli is packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. It contains sulforaphane that has been linked to heart and digestive health. It can help blood sugar levels and may even lower your risk for some cancers. It’s a wonderful green vegetable to include in your diet. It’s also available in every grocery store and is very affordable.
Sulforaphane isn’t found in untouched broccoli. So eating large pieces of broccoli with dip won’t get you all the benefits you could have. And, of course, some dips aren’t things you want to eat! Whole broccoli contains glucosinolates that transform into sulforaphane when it gets “beaten up.” Chopping the broccoli causes damage to the plant that causes a chemical reaction that prompts sulforaphane to develop after a few minutes. The best way to eat broccoli is to chop it up, wait some time and eat the florets raw.
However, most people want more options than raw broccoli. Boiling or steaming lowers the amount of sulforaphane found in broccoli. So that is not your best option. However, stir-frying might be, as long as you are patient. Stir-frying cooks the vegetable faster. And you cut it into smaller pieces beforehand. The more you cut, the more sulforaphane develops. The researchers said the best method was to put your broccoli into two-millimeter pieces so that it could generate as much as possible and then let it sit.
“Our results suggest that after cutting broccoli florets into small pieces, they should be left for about 90 minutes before cooking,” the researcher reported. But they added, “Thirty minutes would also be helpful.”
After that, the sulforaphane will be stable and shouldn’t be damaged by the quick cooking process of stir-frying. Broccoli cooked immediately after being cut contained 2.8 times less sulforaphane than the broccoli that had sat out.
Having said all that, we’ll add a side note. Adding more vegetables to your diet is always excellent. If you eat more broccoli, regardless of how you cook it, you will be adding healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals to your diet. Yes, this method will add the most sulforaphane. However, if you don’t have the time to let it rest, or you don’t like stir-frying, we wouldn’t get worked up about it. This is the healthiest way — not the only healthy way. The fact of the matter is, as long as you aren’t slathering it in butter or a sugar-heavy dressing, eating broccoli in and of itself is a great step toward health goals.