For the LOVE of Broccoli

I had one of those experiences this past weekend where all of the dots of everything I was reading about and doing were all connecting together — and those dots were all around BROCCOLI!

The First Dot

The first dot was that rather than raw fruit and vegetable smoothies, I’ve been more inclined to make lightly steamed vegetable purees lately, meaning that I’ll take a bunch of green vegetables, like zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, and arugula, chop them up, steam them, and then toss them in the blender for an incredible, nutrient-dense puree that is satisfying, full of fiber, and super-charging. You can get much more use out of the whole vegetable in this capacity. In addition, some of the nutrients become more bioavailable when they are steamed slightly. For those who are concerned with goitrogens, these are also, to some extent, inactivated with a bit of heat.

The trio of photos shows you my process, going from left to right: first starting with the warming and steaming, then the blending, and finally, the eating! I used:

  • 1 handful of fresh arugula
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 generous handful of broccoli florets and stems
  • About 5 stalks of medium-sized asparagus

There is no way that I could possibly get in all those steamed vegetables. The puree is an easy means to getting densely packed nutrients. And, don’t forget to spice it up with fresh-ground cracked pepper, dill, and some sea salt to your liking!

The Second Dot

I happened to get my literature alerts Saturday morning after my “green breakfast” and found a paper that was published on April 13, 2018 that was reporting on the phytonutrient analysis of ALL PARTS (floret, stem, and leaf) of broccoli. I was intrigued and read further.

As it turns out, nature has so beautifully configured whole foods in such a way that if we are eating the WHOLE food, we will benefit.

Here’s what I learned from this article:

  1. Broccoli florets had higher concentrations of amino acids and certain detoxifying phytonutrients than the other tissues.
  2. Leaves were higher in carotenoids, chlorophylls, vitamins E and K, total phenolic content, and antioxidant activity. Compared with other tissues, they were also good sources of calcium and manganese.
  3. Stems had a unique profile of detoxifying enzymes. In fact, each tissue had a different gene expression related to these enzymes!

So, why is this important? It supports eating the WHOLE food whenever we can, including stems and leaves of broccoli.

The graphic below is from the article (Liu, M.; Zhang, L.; Ser, S.L.; Cumming, J.R.; Ku, K.-M. Comparative Phytonutrient Analysis of Broccoli By-Products: The Potentials for Broccoli By-Product Utilization. Molecules 2018, 23, 900.), and here is the full paper if you are interested in all the details.

The Third Dot

As if this synchronous connection weren’t enough, I was working on a nutrigenomics project this weekend, and was reminded of how we can optimize certain genes by eating cruciferous vegetables! Some of us have impaired glutathione or glucuronosyltransferase enzymes. Dr. Johanna Lampe at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has done remarkable research to suggest that we can override slow or inefficient detoxifying enzymes by eating broccoli! You can read more here.

If you feel like you’d hear me string this all together in a video, click HERE.




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