10 Proven Health Benefits of Broccoli

1. Broccoli for cancer

Broccoli has exceptional anticancer properties, especially for breast cancer. Compounds in broccoli known as glucosinolates, specifically indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, increase the excretion of the type of estrogen (2-hydroxyestrone) associated with breast cancer.[1]

There are numerous studies investigating the health benefits of these sulphur-containing compounds in combating breast cancer as well as prostate cancer. Research has revealed that sulforaphane halted the growth of breast cancer and prostate cancer cells. The phytochemical sulforaphane in broccoli selectively targets and kills cancer cells and leaves healthy prostate cells untouched.[2]

Sulforaphane in broccoli is an inhibitor of HDAC (histone deacetylase) enzymes. HDACs are a family of enzymes which, amongst other things, influence access to DNA and are involved in whether specific genes, such as tumor suppressing genes, are expressed or not. A number of the mechanisms which help prevent abnormal cell growth are avoided in cancer cells. HDAC inhibitors assist in “switching on” the silenced genes and repair normal cellular function.

Indole-3-carbinol is also a significant cancer-fighting compound, since it has been proven to stop the growth of both breast cancer and prostate cancer cells. Researchers have found that indole-3-carbinol works by halting the cell cycle in breast cancer cells without actually killing the cells.[3]

In addition, indole-3-carbinol increases the ability of the liver to detoxify toxic compounds and also decreases the growth of human papillomavirus (a virus associated with cervical cancer). The growth of thyroid and goiter cancer cells slowed if they were treated with indole-3-carbinol and diindolylmethane (DIM), another sulphur-containing substance in broccoli.

Research suggests that to be able to halve the risk of cancer the average individual would have to consume about 2 pounds of broccoli weekly. As the concentration of sulforaphane is a lot higher in broccoli sprouts than in mature broccoli, exactly the same decrease in risk theoretically may be had with a weekly intake of slightly over an ounce of sprouts.

How to cook broccoli for the anti-cancer effects: Consuming broccoli 3 to 5 times a week is enough to provide its potent anti-cancer benefits, but research has provided evidence that shows that the way broccoli is prepared is extremely important. To get the anti-cancer effects of broccoli, the myrosinase enzyme has to be present. The sulforaphane in broccoli, it’s cancer-preventive and anti-inflammatory component, doesn’t form without the myrosinase enzyme. The myrosinase enzyme in broccoli is often destroyed by overcooking. Steamed broccoli is the best way to cook broccoli for protecting both the myrosinase enzyme and the nutrients. How long to steam broccoli: 2 to 4 minutes. Combining broccoli with broccoli sprouts can also increase the anti-cancer effects of broccoli. The myrosinase enzyme is abundant in broccoli sprouts. Other sulforaphane containing foods that can be combined with broccoli to boost its benefits are radishes, mustard, wasabi and arugula. To increase the anti-cancer effects of broccoli, broccoli sprouts can be sprinkled on the broccoli, or a mustard sauce can be made to serve with the broccoli.[4]

Cancer Foods Infographic

Image Source: totalhealthinstitute

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