Broccoli is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Unfortunately, over-cooking is known to deplete these healthy properties, leading researchers to look into ways in which the vegetable’s health benefits can be boosted.
A team of scientists at the University of Illinois believe that one way individuals can make the most out of their broccoli consumption is by pairing the cruciferous vegetable with a spicy accompaniment, such as wasabi, horseradish, or mustard.
The researchers explained that eating broccoli with foods containing the enzyme myrosinase — a compound found in the aforementioned spicy condiments — helps ensure that vitamins and nutrients will be easily absorbed in the upper part of the digestive system. In the trial, it was observed that nutrients were absorbed more quickly and stayed in the blood longer when broccoli was eaten with a spicy component, compared to consuming the vegetable alone.
Authors noted that this effect occurs even if the broccoli is over-cooked.
Moreover, myrosinase may even help improve the potency of another cancer-fighting compound in broccoli, sulforaphane.
“Here’s another benefit of protecting and enhancing the myrosinase in your foods,” said researcher Elizabeth Jeffery. “If myrosinase is present, sulforaphane is released in the ilium, the first part of your digestive system. Absorption happens well and quickly there, which is why we saw bioactivity in 30 minutes.”