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Raw Broccoli Better than Cooked for Cancer Protection

A study published in the October 2008 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that cooked broccoli has less cancer fighting potential than raw broccoli.

For the study, researchers from the Netherlands analyzed the amount of sulforaphane in 8 participants after they consumed 200 grams of raw or cooked broccoli. The participants were all men between the ages of 18 and 60.

Sulforaphane is a natural compound that has been shown to block or delay the formation of cancer cells. It is produced when our bodies metabolize active plant chemicals called glucosinolates. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts contain high levels of these plant nutrients.

Blood and urine samples were taken from participants after they had consumed either raw or cooked broccoli. After examining the samples, researchers found significantly lower levels of sulforaphane in the individuals that ate cooked broccoli compared to those who ate raw broccoli.

The bioavailability (amount that ends up being absorbed by our bodies) of sulforaphane was also better in the raw broccoli group. The researchers calculated that bioavailability of raw broccoli was 37 per cent but only 3.4 percent for cooked broccoli.

Raw broccoli was also associated with faster absorption of sulforaphane. Blood plasma levels in the raw broccoli group peaked only 1.6 hours after consumption, compared to 6 hours for the cooked broccoli.

These findings may be valuable for people trying to lead more healthy lifestyles. The study shows that including more raw broccoli into your diet could be an easy way to protect yourself from carcinogens.

If your favorite cookbook lacks dishes that include raw broccoli, try serving it as an appetizer or side dish. Broccoli goes great with hummus which is high in iron, vitamin C, protein and fiber. You can also include broccoli in salads or try a vegetable juice drink, many of which contain raw broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.
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