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Deciding whether to microwave, boil or steam your broccoli may not seem important, but researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign say the choice may have major health implications.
Broccoli, like other cruciferous vegetables (including turnips, cabbage and cauliflower), contains a plant compound called sulforaphane that fights cancer. When researchers compared three methods of preparing broccoli, they found that steaming broccoli for three to four minutes until it turns bright green increases its available sulforaphane. Microwaving or boiling the vegetable decreases or even eliminates it completely.
“As we’re learning, food processing isn’t just what happens to food before it reaches the grocery shelves,” says American Institute for Cancer Research associate director of nutrition programs Alice Bender. “This research highlights that what you do in your kitchen can make those fruits and vegetables on your plate even more cancer-protective.”
Cutting the broccoli florets into smaller pieces and the stems into thin slices is also thought to enhance broccoli’s ability to stave off cancer. Tips on how to properly chop broccoli can be found here.
How to steam broccoli on the stove:
- Fill a pot with an inch of water and place the florets in a steamer basket inside the pot. If you don’t have a steamer basket you can put the florets directly in the water, but be careful that the water doesn’t cover the broccoli completely — you need only an inch or so of water, just to create steam.
- Cover the pot with a lid and set stove burner heat to medium-high.
- Allow the broccoli to steam for three to four minutes, until bright green. Steam should flood out of the pot when the lid is removed.
- Remove from heat and serve.