Let's get a little scientific this time to talk about cruciferous vegetables, broccoli specifically.
The sulforaphane that broccoli provides us has been widely studied for its incredible anti-cancer effects, and its anti-diabetic, cardio-protective, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is even believed to help reduce the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome as it helps remove excess estrogen towards the end of the menstrual cycle.
Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and others, are rich sources of glucosinolates, which are chemical compounds that are precursors (i.e., converted into) isothiocyanates.
Isothiocyanates are small molecules that show incredible anticancer activity because they reduce the activation of carcinogens and increase their detoxification.
Sulforaphane is an isothiocyanate that occurs mostly in broccoli and is considered a phytonutrient. Plants have macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), and in small quantities, phytonutrients or phytochemicals that are responsible for characteristics such as color, smell, flavor, as well as their mechanisms of defenses against predators such as insects, animals, fungi, bacteria and us, humans.
Glucoraphanin is a glucosinolate precursor to sulforaphane, that is, it is converted to sulforaphane, but it requires an enzyme called myrosinase, which is found in plants, but also in our gut (unless you have received antibiotic treatment and your gut microbiota is in total imbalance) and this happens when a predator bites the plant and releases that enzyme that, when mixed with glucoraphanin, produces sulforaphane. This is a chemical reaction that happens very quickly, in a matter of seconds really, it's like when you bite into a radish, and you feel the heat, the spicy flavor immediately and then that intensity starts to go down.
As we have already said, phytonutrients are found in small quantities, but sulforaphane in particular is found (or produced, rather) in higher concentrations in broccoli sprouts. That is to say, eating broccoli is very healthy, it gives us anti-cancer benefits and so on, but eating the sprouts (we can talk about 2 oz a day) provides us with a greater amount of glucoraphanin with which we can produce more sulforaphane.
Now, the question you must be asking yourself is what is the best way to cook broccoli? There are many scientific studies that say the way the least glucoraphanin is lost is when steaming, but these studies are not entirely clear. What does make sense is that when you boil broccoli, some of its nutrients are transferred to the water, and unless you are going to consume the water as well, you will be losing some of its benefits there.
There is a scientific study dating back to 1978 that shows that the risk of colorectal cancer can be reduced by up to 50% with the consumption of two daily servings of broccoli (that is, 200 grams) and it is said that it was cooked broccoli.
The other thing that makes a lot of sense is that, if you consume it raw, it will take much longer to chew it and it will take longer to be assimilated in your intestine; And if you remember what I mentioned about radish, you will know that the production of sulforaphane occurs very fast, and if it takes a long time to reach your intestine, we do not know how much you will finally be absorbing.
Another way to obtain the benefits of broccoli is by supplementing with 50 mg of sulforaphane daily, the supplement alone is not ideal, because real food should be always your first choice, that is why it is called a supplement, because it complements a balanced diet, but it is a good option if you don't like to eat it. You can find many brands on the market, but I have added a brand that I trust on my Amazon page.