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Vegetables with Amazing Healing Potential
(29.11.2021) back
Broccoli has been well researched – it's been proven to be good for our health
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are among the healthiest of vegetables

Broccoli is a kind of cruciferous vegetable, just like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale – these vegetables are all much enjoyed side dishes. Recently their health benefits have been the focus of more and more research, and it's been discovered that how one prepares vegetables like broccoli is actually a determining factor when it comes to just how healthy it is.

Health benefits: stronger immune system, liver detoxification, inhibition of cancer cell growth

The family of cruciferous vegetables includes the following: broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, kale, cabbage, horseradish, pak choi, radishes, Brussels sprouts, Russian red cabbage, black cabbage, rocket salad, and white cabbage.

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are among the most healthy of all vegetables. They have the potential to prevent DNA damage as well as limiting the metastatic growth of cancer cells. They can increase the body's capacity to cope with pathogens and harmful substances, and they even help to prevent lymphoma. Moreover, cruciferous vegetables speed up liver detoxification, fight the development of breast cancer cells and lessen the risk of worsening of prostate cancer.

The magic word is sulphoraphane, and proper preparation is essential!

The component that is most likely responsible for all of these positive effects is called sulphoraphane, and it is almost exclusively to be found in cruciferous vegetables. For this reason, we should all be giving these vegetables priority in our meal planning. Be sure to cook them properly though as this is crucial in ensuring the effectiveness of the sulphoraphane that they contain.

Sulphoraphane is present in cruciferous plants due to a kind of chemical reaction. For it to work, an active precursor has to be present that combines with an enzyme called myrosinase. The problem is that when you cook vegetables, the mysinase becomes deactivated. This explains why lab studies have shown that raw broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts can dramatically reduce the growth of cancer cells, while the reaction is virtually non-existent in cooked vegetables.

To make sure that the sulphoraphane is present in the vegetables that you're eating, the myrosinase enzymes have to mix with the sulphoraphane precursor before the myrosinase is destroyed by the cooking process. Once the enzyme and the precursor combine, sulphoraphane is formed…and it's not destroyed by cooking. So the real question is how to get this reaction to occur before you start cooking your cruciferous vegetables. 

There are three possible ways to ensure the presence of sulphoraphane in the cruciferous vegetables you eat:

  1. You can eat the vegetables raw. Simply by chewing, you mix the myrosinase enzyme and the sulphoraphane precursor. This results in the production of sulphoraphane in your mouth and stomach.
  2. You can cut up the vegetables into very small pieces so that the enzyme and the precursor are mixed as part of the chopping process. After cutting the vegetables, wait 40 minutes before you start cooking them. This delay before cooking allows sulphoraphane to form in the chopped vegetables, and sulphoraphane itself can no longer be destroyed by cooking.
  3. You can cook the cruciferous vegetables as you normally do. When it's time to eat, add some raw cruciferous vegetables to the vegetables you've already cooked. The raw vegetables contain the myrosinase enzyme, which binds to the precursor in the cooked vegetables and results in the production of sulphoraphane.

TIP: The third choice above seems to be the simplest option. You could even just mix some mustard powder or mustard seed with your cooked broccoli before eating – mustard is also a member of the cruciferous family. Another way to maintain the presence of sulphoraphane is by adding a few raw broccoli florets or other pieces of cruciferous vegetables to your cooked broccoli, for example a few leaves of kale.

Source: Dr. Michael Greger and Gene Stone,  How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease, Flatiron Books, 2015

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