Sunday, January 30, 2011

Love That Veggie: Broccoli

I.   Introduction
II.  Broccoli Nutrients
III. Cooking Methods for Nutrient Preservation
IV. Conclusion
V.  Bibliography

Key Words:  anti-cancer, antioxidant, breast cancer, broccoli, cancer, cancer therapy, cervical cancer, cancer symptoms, colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer

It is a well known fact that vegetables should be an integral part of everyone’s diet.  However, it still amazes me that many eat little to no vegetables in their diets.  Therefore, my goal is to make it clear how certain vegetables can improve your overall health.

Now, if you know me, you’d know that my vegetable of choice is broccoli.  I mean seriously, who doesn’t love broccoli??  Besides the fact that it tastes so great (maybe?), it is LOADED with many compounds and nutrients that have been proven to support the preservation of a healthy body.

Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) – The anti-cancerous properties of I3C have been studied in great detail.  This chemical inhibits the growth of human breast (Cover et al., 1998; Tiwari et al., 1994) and prostate cancer cells (Chinni et al., 2001; Nachshon-Kedmi et al., 2003).  It also decreases the expression of estrogen in human cervical cells infected with HPV (Yuan et al., 1999).  The digestion of indole-3-carbinol results in the expression of compounds such as 3,3'-Diindolylmethane, which is able to induce cancer cell death (Ge et al., 1996; Hong et al., 2002).  I3C is also found in other vegetables in the Brassica family, such as cabbage, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower. 

Isothiocyanates – This group of compounds also prevents cancer development by reducing the activation of cancer enzymes and increasing cancer cell death in both developing and fully developed cancers of the lung, breast, colon, and prostate (Kuang and Chen, 2004; Zhang, 2004).  They are also found in other vegetables in the Brassica family. 

A specific isothiocyanate is sulforaphane, which inhibits the growth of cancer cells of the colon (Gamet-Payrastre et al., 2000), prostate (Singh et al., 2005), cervix (Sharma et al., 2010), breast (Pledgie-Tracy et al., 2007), and others.  It also acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells in the body from oxidative stress and inflammation (Gao et al., 2001; Shan et al., 2010).  

Broccoli is also rich in: 

1.      Fiber - makes you feel full faster, lowers cholesterol, regulates blood sugar, supports proper digestion (Lattimer and Haub, 2010)

2.      Vitamin A – helps regulate the immune system, lower risk of chronic disease, protect the eyes from damage such as UV light (Gerster, 1997) 

3.      Zinc - plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division (Prasad, 1995)

4.      Seleniumprevents cellular damage from free radicals (Combs Jr. and Gray, 1998) 
5.      Folic acid – needed to repair DNA and produce healthy red blood cells (Fenech et al., 1998) 

6.      Vitamin Csupports the immune system, protects the body from oxidative stress; antioxidant (Jacob and Sotoudeh, 2002)

7.      Calcium – supports bone health (Straub, 2007)

Now, with all of that information, I know what everyone is thinking…”Man, I really need to start eating some broccoli!!”  However, in order to maximize the power of this vegetable, your cooking technique is very important. 

A study by Zhang et al. (2004) showed how cooking methods can reduce the nutritional content in raw broccoli.  Here are the main results: 

1.  Broccoli florets and stems boiled for 300 s lost 72% and 42%, respectively, of their total phenolic (antioxidant) content.  Microwaved broccoli florets and stems had a similar decline.

2.  Broccoli florets boiled for 300 s lost 69% of their ascorbic acid content, while boiled broccoli stems lost 71% of their ascorbic acid content.  Broccoli florets and stems microwaved for 300 s lost 66% and 71%, respectively, of their ascorbic acid content.  

3.    Broccoli florets boiled or microwaved for 300 s lost 23% of their carotenoids (vitamin A), while boiled or microwaved broccoli stems lost 20% of their carotenoids.  

So what’s the best method??  You guessed it…steaming is the best cooking method for broccoli to maintain its nutrients.  Separate studies have shown that steaming maintains the highest concentrations of phytonutrients in broccoli, showing no significant losses in vitamin C, phenolic content, glucosinolates, or sulphoraphane after 3.5-5 minutes (Jones et al., 2010; Vallejo et al., 2002; Vallejo et al., 2003).

If you STEAM your broccoli for 3.5 – 5 minutes, you can enjoy all of the benefits of this wonderful veggie!!

P.S. - If you want to get the full benefit of your vegetables, DO NOT buy anything other than fresh, raw vegetables!

Dr. O 
"I don't live to eat...I eat to live!"

Chinni SR, Li Y, Upadhyay S, Koppolu PK, Sarkar FH. 2001. Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) induced cell growth inhibition, G1 cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. Oncogene 20(23):2927-36.
Combs Jr. GF, Gray WP. 1998. Chemopreventive agents: Selenium. Pharmacol Ther 79:179-92.
Fenech M, Aitken C, Rinaldi J. 1998. Folate, vitamin B12, homocysteine status and DNA damage in young Australian adults. Carcinogenesis 19(7):1163-1171.
Gamet-Payrastre L, Li P, Lumeau S, Cassar G, Dupont M-A, Chevolleau S, Gasc N, Tulliez J, Terce F. 2000. Sulforaphane, a Naturally Occurring Isothiocyanate, Induces Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis in HT29 Human Colon Cancer Cells. Cancer Res 60:1426-1433.
Gao X, Dinkova-Kostova AT, Talalay P. 2001. Powerful and prolonged protection of human retinal pigment epithelial cells, keratinocytes, and mouse leukemia cells against oxidative damage: The indirect antioxidant effects of sulforaphane. PNAS 98(26):15221-15226.
Ge X, Yannai S, Rennert G, Gruener N, Fares FA. 1996. 3,3'-Diindolylmethane Induces Apoptosis in Human Cancer Cells. Biochem Biophys Res Comm 228(1):153-158.
Gerster H. 1997. Vitamin A - functions, dietary requirements and safety in humans. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 67(2):71-90.
Hong C, Firestone GL, Bjeldanes LF. 2002. Bcl-family-mediated apoptotic effects of 3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM) in human breast cancer cells. Biochem Pharm 63(6):1085-1097.
Jacob RA, Sotoudeh G. 2002. Vitamin C function and status in chronic disease. Nutr Clin Care 5(2):66-74.
Jones RB, Frisina CL, Winkler S, Imsic M, Tomkins RB. 2010. Cooking method significantly effects glucosinolate content and sulforaphane production in broccoli florets. Food Chem 123(1):237-242.
Kuang Y-F, Chen Y-C. 2004. Induction of apoptosis in a non-small cell human lung cancer cell line by isothiocyanates is associated with P53 and P2`. Food Chem Toxic 42(10):1711-1718.
Lattimer JM, Haub MD. 2010. Effects of Dietary Fiber and Its Components on Metabolic Health. Nutrients 2(12):1266-1289.
Nachshon-Kedmi M, Yannai S, Haj A, Fares FA. 2003. Indole-3-carbinol and 3,3'-diindolylmethane induce apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells. Food Chem Toxic 41(6):745-752.
Pledgie-Tracy A, Sobolewski MD, Davidson NE. 2007. Sulforaphane induces cell type-specific apoptosis in human breast cancer cell lines. Mol Cancer Ther 6:1013-1021.
Prasad AS. 1995. Zinc: an overview. Nutrition 11:93-99.
Shan Y, Zhao R, Geng W, Lin N, Wang X, Du X, Wang S. 2010. Protective Effect of Sulforaphane on Human Vascular Endothelial Cells Against Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Inflammation. Cardiovas Toxicol 10(2):139-145.
Sharma C, Sadrieh L, Priyani A, Ahmed M, Hassan AH, Hussain A. 2010. Anti-carcinogenic effects of sulforaphane in association with its apoptosis-inducing and anti-inflammatory properties in human cervical cancer cells. Cancer Epidemiol In Press.
Singh SV, Srivastava SK, Choi S, Lew KL, Antosiewicz J, Xiao D, Zeng Y, Watkins SC, Johnson CS, Trump DL and others. 2005. Sulforaphane-induced Cell Death in Human Prostate Cancer Cells is Initiated by Reactive Oxygen Species. J Biol Chem 280:19911-19924.
Straub DA. 2007. Calcium supplementation in clinical practice: a review of forms, doses, and indications. Nutr Clin Pract 22(3):286-96.
Vallejo F, Tomas-Barberan FA, Garcia-Viguera C. 2002. Gllucosinolates and vitamin C content in edible parts of broccoli florets after domestic cooking. Euro Food Res Tech 215(4):310-316.
Vallejo F, Tomas-Barberan FA, Garcia-Viguera C. 2003. Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking. J Sci Food Agri 83:1511-1516.
Yuan F, Chen D-Z, Liu K, Sepkovic DW, Bradlow HL, Auborn K. 1999. Anti-estrogenic activities of indole-3-carbinol in cervical cells: Implication for prevention of cervical cancer. Anticancer Res 19:1673-1680.
Zhang Y. 2004. Cancer-preventive isothiocyanates: measurement of human exposure and mechanism of action. Mutation Res/Fund Mol Mech Mut 555(1-2):173-190.


Tiffany January said...

I've heard and read from various tv shows /books that if you can't buy fresh, raw vegetables, then you should go with frozen vegetables because they are flash frozen in their raw state and is the next best thing to raw vegetables. What's your take on that Dr. Nina ;)?

Dozie Onunkwo, Ph.D. said...

Yea, I would agree with that as being the next best thing. Do some grocery stores differentiate between the flash frozen and other freezing methods? I know that some frozen veggies were boiled for some period of time.

For example, I bought a frozen bag of broccoli and compared it to my fresh bag of broccoli, and the Vitamin C content went from 130% per serving to 0%.

So I'd just try to make sure that frozen veggie you're buying was actually flash frozen, if possible.

Dozie Onunkwo, Ph.D. said...

LOL @ Dr. Nina...that is still a classic moment!

Jameelah said...

What if you steam broccoli in the microwave using Ziplock steam bags? Do you still lose the nutrients?

Dozie Onunkwo, Ph.D. said...

Well in the studies I've read, the authors microwaved the broccoli in water. When the water is heated, the nutrients leach out into the water. So that would occur with both boiling and microwaving in their study. I've never used those bags, but I assume that you add little to no water. I haven't seen any studies that use those bags, but my guess would be that there wouldn't be as much of a loss in nutrients as compared to microwaving in water.

However, my bigger fear would be the use of plastic bags in the microwave. I do know that those bags have gone through the FDA process to verify that no chemicals from the plastic melted into food. Personally, I wouldn't microwave anything in plastic, but if you have to, those are some of the 'safer' ones.

Anonymous said...

What about stir frying veggies?

Tiffany January said...

No matter how many acronyms follow your name I'm still gonna call you Nina!
I looked at what I have in my freezer. Giant brand has 50% Vitamin C content and Green Giant has 60% Vitamin C. Not as great as fresh, but still something. I think it's better to eat broccoli in some way, shape, or form rather than not at all like most Americans and their daily vegetable intake.

Jesse said...

Good thing I love Broccoli!

Dozie Onunkwo, Ph.D. said...

A study in 2007 investigated how stir frying effects the concentration of various nutrients in broccoli florets.

When extra virgin olive oil was used (which is what everyone should be using), there was only a loss in flavonoids and sinapic acid derivatives, both of which act as antioxidants. However, there was no significant loss in vitamin C, mineral, or glucosinolate (anti-cancerous properties) concentrations.

Moreno DA, Lopez-Berenguer C, Garcia-Viguera C. 2007. Effects of Stir-Fry Cooking with Different Edible Oils on the Phytochemical Composition of Broccoli. Food Sci 72(1):S064-S068.

Dozie Onunkwo, Ph.D. said...

Tiff, I totally agree that it's better to eat any broccoli than none at all. You're still getting some of those nutrients, and you're doing A LOT better than most.

And I wouldn't expect that name to go away, I honestly forgot all about it and had a nice laugh remembering that moment :)

George said...

Hi Dr. O,
As a PHD candidate in Exercise Physiology, I feel like your comparison of the endurance athlete to the strength athlete with the little old guy vs. the ripped, hot, young dude to be a little disingenuous...especially since the name of your website includes the word "unbiased." And please cite statistics showing that women prefer the sprinter to the long-distance runner because I think your insinuation of the sprinter being the choice is bold, but an unsupported claim.
And Donel says hi.

Dozie Onunkwo, Ph.D. said...

Thanks for your comment George! I do agree that the image shows two extreme cases. However, the study that was presented does seem to support a greater loss of fat with HIIT.

Also, if you review the "Long-Distance Runners vs. Sprinters" section, you will see that I never stated that "women prefer the sprinter to the long-distance runner". I simply raised the question, "Which body type would a woman prefer for her boyfriend/husband?", and gave no answer.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I'm so impressed with your site!!!

Tiffany January said...

My answer as a woman, I would prefer the sprinter ;)

Anonymous said...

I get really gassy when I eat greens (broccoli and asparagus) to the point of discomfort. Any suggestions?

Dozie Onunkwo, Ph.D. said...

This gastrointestinal discomfort is caused by cellulose, which is the soluble fiber found in many vegetables. Even though it's good for the GI tract, it's hard for humans to digest. To properly digest these greens and avoid gas, you need the enzyme, cellulase, which you can get from raw avocados or through digestive enzyme supplements. I'd recommend both.

cancer guide said...

Yeah, The food i carry with me isn't really too spectacular... Either half a peanut butter and jam sandwich or chocolate tea biscuits with some natural peanut butter. (Works well for a diabetic such as myself..)

julie anderson said...

Very nutrition food!It help us to eradicate many disease and make free from the diseases!

Tania Rahmabima said...

Tips Sederhana Mencegah Telinga Berdengung

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