Thursday, July 25, 2013

Beneficial Power of Broccoli


(Reference: Dr. Robert O. Young, the pH Miracle Center and others below)

Nutritional Importance of Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts

Like other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli contains the phytonutrients sulforaphane and the indoles, which have significant anti-cancer effects. Research shows indole-3-carbinol helps deactivate a potent estrogen metabolite (4-hydroxyestrone) that promotes tumor growth, especially in estrogen-sensitive breast cells, while at the same time increasing the level of 2-hydroxyestrone, a form of estrogen that can be cancer-protective. Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to suppress not only breast tumor cell growth, but also cancer cell metastasis (the movement of cancerous cells to other parts of the body). Scientists have found that sulforaphane boosts the body's detoxification enzymes, potentially by altering gene expression, thereby helping to clear potentially carcinogenic substances more quickly.

Sulforaphane also may offer special protection to those with colon cancer-susceptible genes, suggests a study conducted at Rutgers University and published online in the journal Carcinogenesis.

New research has tremendously advanced scientists' understanding of just how vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts help prevent cancer.

When these vegetables are cut, chewed or digested, a sulfur-containing compound called sinigrin is brought into contact with the enzyme myrosinase, resulting in the release of glucose and breakdown products, including highly reactive compounds called isothiocyanates.

Isothiocyanates are not only potent inducers of the liver's Phase II enzymes, which detoxify carcinogens, but research recently conducted at the Institute for Food Research in the U.K. shows one of these compounds, allyl isothicyanate, also inhibits mitosis (cell division) and stimulates apoptosis (programmed cell death) in human tumor cells.


Optimize Your Cells' Detoxification/Cleansing Ability

New research is revealing that phytonutrients in broccoli work at a very deep level. These compounds actually signal our genes to increase production of alkaline buffers involved in detoxification, the cleansing process through which our bodies eliminate harmful compounds.

Recent studies show that those eating the most cruciferous vegetables has a much lower risk of prostate, colorectal and lung cancer-even when compared to those who regularly eat other vegetables:

In a study of over 1,000 men conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA, those eating 28 servings of vegetables a week had a 35% lower risk of prostate cancer, but those consuming just 3 or more servings of cruciferous vegetables each week had a 44% lower prostate cancer risk.

In the Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer, in which data was collected on over 100,000 people for more than 6 years, those eating the most vegetables benefited with a 25% lower risk of colorectal cancers, but those eating the most cruciferous vegetables did almost twice as well with a 49% drop in their colorectal cancer risk.

A study of Chinese women in Singapore, a city in which air pollution levels are often high putting stress on the detoxification capacity of residents' lungs, found that in non-smokers, eating cruciferous vegetables lowered risk of lung cancer by 30%. In smokers, regular cruciferous vegetable consumption reduced lung cancer risk an amazing 69%!

How many weekly servings of cruciferous vegetables do you need to lower your risk of cancer? Just 3 to 5 servings-less than one serving a day! (1 serving = 1 cup)


Researchers estimate that broccoli sprouts contain 10-100 times the power of mature broccoli to boost alkaline buffers that detoxify potential carcinogens! A healthy serving of broccoli sprouts in your salad can offer some great health benefits.

Support Stomach Health for Children of All Ages

The researchers think these beneficial results are due to broccoli sprouts' especially rich concentration of sulforaphane, which can protect against oxidative (free radical) damage in cells that can damage DNA, potentially causing cancer.

Help for Sun-Damaged Skin

Recent research has demonstrated that some sun exposure is essential for good health since it is needed for our production of vitamin D, yet too much may be of concern as skin cancer rates continue to rise due to depletion of the ozone layer. Broccoli sprouts' ability to repair damage done to sun-exposed skin may offer us a way to receive the benefits of sunlight we need without increasing our risk for skin cancer.


A Cardio-Protective Vegetable

Broccoli has been singled out as one of the small number of vegetables and fruits that contributed to the significant reduction in heart disease risk seen in a recent meta-analysis of seven prospective studies. Of the more than 100,000 individuals who participated in these studies, those who diets most frequently included broccoli, tea, onions, and apples-the richest sources of flavonoids-gained a 20% reduction in their risk of heart disease.

Cataract Prevention

Broccoli and other leafy green vegetables contain powerful phytonutrient antioxidants in the carotenoid family called lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are concentrated in large quantities in the lens of the eye.

When 36,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study were monitored, those who ate broccoli more than twice a week had a 23% lower risk of cataracts compared to men who consumed this antioxidant-rich vegetable less than once a month.

In addition to the antioxidant potential of broccoli's carotenoids, recent research has suggested that sulforaphane may also have antioxidant potential, being able to protect human eye cells from free radical stressors.

Stronger Bones with Broccoli

When it comes to building strong bones, broccoli's got it all for less. One cup of cooked broccoli contains 74 mg of calcium, plus 123 mg of vitamin C, which significantly improves calcium's absorption; all this for a total of only 44 calories.

To put this in perspective, an orange contains no calcium, 69 mg of vitamin C, and about 50% more-calories. Dairy products, long touted as the most reliable source of calcium, contain no vitamin C, but do contain saturated fat. A glass of 2% milk contains 121 calories, and 42 of those calories come from fat.

An Immune System Booster

Not only does a cup of broccoli contain the RDA for vitamin C, it also fortifies your immune system with a hefty 1359 mcg of beta-carotene, and small but useful amounts of zinc and selenium, two trace minerals that act as cofactors in numerous immune defensive actions.


A Birth Defect Fighter

Especially if you are pregnant, be sure to eat broccoli. A cup of broccoli supplies 94 mcg of folic acid, a B-vitamin essential for proper cellular division because it is necessary in DNA synthesis. Without folic acid, the fetus' nervous system cells do not divide properly. Deficiency of folic acid during pregnancy has been linked to several birth defects, including neural tube defects like spina bifida. Despite folic acid's wide occurrence in food (its name comes from the Latin word folium, meaning 'foliage,' because it's found in green leafy vegetables), folic acid deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world.

Description

Broccoli's name is derived from the Latin word brachium, which means branch or arm, a reflection of its treelike shape that features a compact head of florets attached by small stems to a larger stalk. Because of its different components, this vegetable provides a complex of tastes and textures, ranging from soft and flowery (the florets) to fibrous and crunchy (the stem and stalk). Its color can range from deep sage to dark green to purplish-green, depending upon the variety. One of the most popular type of broccoli sold in North America is known as Italian green, or Calabrese, named after the Italian province of Calabria where it first grew.

Other vegetables related to broccoli or broccolini, a mix between broccoli and kale, and broccoflower, a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. Broccoli sprouts have also recently become popular as a result of research uncovering their high concentration of the anti-cancer phytonutrient, sulforaphane.

History

Broccoli has its roots in Italy. In ancient Roman times, it was developed from wild cabbage, a plant that more resembles collards than broccoli. It spread throughout the Near East where it was appreciated for its edible flower heads and was subsequently brought back to Italy where it was further cultivated. Broccoli was introduced to the United States in colonial times, popularized by Italian immigrants who brought this prized vegetable with them to the New World.

How to Select and Store

Choose broccoli with floret clusters that are compact and not bruised. They should be uniformly colored, either dark green, sage or purple-green, depending upon variety, and with no yellowing. In addition, they should not have any yellow flowers blossoming through, as this is a sign of over maturity. The stalk and stems should be firm with no slimy spots appearing either there or on the florets. If the leaves are attached, they should be vibrant in color and not wilted.

Broccoli is very perishable and should be stored in open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep for a week. Since water on the surface will encourage its degradation, do not wash the broccoli before refrigerating. Broccoli that has been blanched and then frozen can stay up to a year. Leftover cooked broccoli should be placed in tightly covered container and stored in the refrigerator where it will keep for a few days.

Tips for Preparing Broccoli:

Both cooked and raw broccoli make excellent additions to your meal plan. Some of the health-supporting compounds in broccoli can be increased by slicing or chewing, since both slicing and chewing can help activate alkaline buffers in the broccoli. The heating (for example, steaming) of unsliced broccoli is also fine, since it helps to prepare the food in a pureed state for biological transformation into blood in the small intestine. When cooking broccoli, however, the stems and florets should be prepared differently. Since the fibrous stems take longer to cook, they can be prepared separately for a few minutes before adding the florets. For quicker cooking, make lengthwise slits in the stems. While people do not generally eat the leaves, they are perfectly edible and contain concentrated amounts of nutrients.

The World's Healthiest Foods has long recommended quickly steaming or healthy sautéing as the best ways to cook vegetables to retain their nutrients. Several recent studies have confirmed this advice. The way you cook can dramatically impact the amount of nutrients your vegetables deliver.

A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture investigated the effects of various methods of cooking broccoli. Of all the methods of preparation, steaming caused the least loss of nutrients.

Microwaving broccoli resulted in a loss of 97%, 74% and 87% of its three major antioxidant compounds-flavonoids, sinapics and caffeoyl-quinic derivatives. In comparison, steaming broccoli resulted in a loss of only 11%, 0% and 8%, respectively, in the same antioxidants.

Study co-author, Dr. Cristina Garcia-Viguera, noted that 'Most of the bioactive compounds are water-soluble; during heating, they leach in a high percentage into the cooking water. Because of this, it is recommended to cook vegetables in the minimum amount of water (as in steaming) in order to retain their nutritional benefits.' A second study, published in the same issue of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, provides similar evidence. In this study, Finnish researchers found that blanching vegetables prior to freezing caused losses of up to a third of their antioxidant content. Although slight further losses occurred during freezing storage, most bioactive compounds including antioxidants remained stable. The bottom line: how you prepare and cook your food may have a major impact on its nutrient-richness.

A third study, published in the British Medical Journal, checked to see how much of the B vitamin, folate, was retained after broccoli, spinach or potatoes were boiled or steamed.
Boiling for typical time periods caused a loss of 56% of the folate in broccoli, and 51% of the folate in spinach, while boiling potatoes caused only minimal folate loss. Steaming spinach or broccoli, in contrast, caused no significant loss of folate. The take home message: Boiling potatoes may be okay, but to get the most benefit from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, and greens like spinach, cook them lightly!

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Sprinkle lemon juice and sesame seeds over lightly steamed broccoli.

Toss spinach pasta with olive oil, pine nuts and healthy sautéed broccoli florets. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Purée cooked broccoli and cauliflower, then combine with seasonings of your choice to make a simple, yet delicious, soup.

More notes:

Broccoli contains goitrogens, naturally-occurring substances in certain foods that can interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. Individuals with already existing and untreated thyroid problems may want to avoid broccoli for this reason. Cooking may help to inactivate the goitrogenic compounds found in food. However, it is not clear from the research exactly what percent of goitrogenic compounds get inactivated by cooking, or exactly how much risk is involved with the consumption of broccoli by individuals with pre-existing and untreated thyroid problems.

Broccoli contains glucosinolates, phytochemicals which break down into compounds called indoles and isothiocyanates (such as sulphoraphane). Broccoli also contains the carotenoid, lutein. Broccoli is an excellent source of the vitamins K, C, and A, as well as folate and fiber. Broccoli is a very good source of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and the vitamins B6 and E.


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