October 23/Champaign, Ill./AFP - RELAXNEWS -- Broccoli is a high-fiber cruciferous superfood that contains a powerful cancer-fighting agent called sulforaphane. How can it be even healthier? Scientists say just add yogurt.
Researchers at the University of Illinois discovered that friendly bacteria in the gut, known as probiotics, work a crucial magic on digesting broccoli, helping to release and absorb sulforaphane into the body.
So that broccoli really packs a punch, they suggest feeding the helpful bacteria in the gut with prebiotics, such as fiber, to encourage their proliferation. Another idea is to eat broccoli with probiotics, "combining, say, broccoli with a yogurt sauce that contains the hydrolyzing bacteria," said study researcher Michael Miller in a news release on October 22.
Broccoli is special in that it is a rich source of sulforaphane, and eating less than one daily serving of broccoli is shown to be enough to have an anti-cancer effect. "With many of the other bioactive foods you hear about, vast amounts are required for a measurable outcome," said Elizabeth Jeffery, a University of Illinois professor of human nutrition.
Why make a good food even better? Because many people overcook broccoli, which destroys the plant enzyme that gives your body sulforaphane, said Jeffery. "Now we know the microbiota in our digestive tract can salvage some of this important cancer-preventive agent even if that happens."
Results from the study will be published in the November issue of Food & Function.
To access the full study: http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Journals/JournalIssues/FO
From the November 1, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition