The disease-fighting effect of broccoli is due in part to the activity of myrosinase, an enzyme needed to form sulforaphane, the component credited with broccoli's anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory effects. You won't get these benefits if you overcook your broccoli, a process that destroys the crucial enzyme. You'll also miss out if you use broccoli powder supplements in cooking – it lacks myrosinase altogether. Now researchers at the University of Illinois have come up with evidence showing that adding broccoli sprouts (they're rich in myrosinase) to broccoli powder gives you plenty of sulforaphane. They tested the combination on four healthy men who ate meals containing broccoli sprouts alone, broccoli powder alone or a combination of the two. Measurements of marker compounds in the men's blood indicated that the combination of powder and sprouts doubled levels of sulforaphane compared to either alone. Other foods that will give broccoli the same kind of anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory sulforaphane boost are mustard, radishes, arugula and wasabi. The research team added that you'll get the most out of broccoli - the enzyme as well as the nutrients it contains - by steaming it for just two to four minutes.
Enjoy lightly steamed broccoli - rich in sulforaphane - in my recipe for Broccoli Salad with Avocado.