Chances are when you were young your mother forced you to finish your broccoli. It’s good for you, she claimed. Turns out your mother was right. These days broccoli are at the top of the super food lists and are tossed into many different dishes. It can be prepared in a variety of ways. With the various ways you can consume broccoli, the only remaining question is whether it is better to eat broccoli raw or cooked?
It’s better to eat broccoli raw or slightly cooked. The vitamins and minerals in broccoli are decreased or destroyed when exposed to cooking heat for lengths of time. Keeping broccoli out of water while slightly cooking can help retain more of its nutrients.
However, many people don’t enjoy the taste of broccoli when it is raw. This article will let you in on a few tricks you can apply when preparing broccoli so you could preserve most of its nutrients and reap the most benefits1.
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Is It Better To Eat Broccoli Raw Or Cooked?
Although both cooked and raw broccoli is packed with nutrients most of them get lost during cooking 2. Raw broccoli is rich in sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a compound that helps stimulate the body’s detoxifying enzymes which help maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Another benefit of sulforaphane is it has anti-cancer properties 3. Raw broccoli is richer in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. All of these helpful nutrients have been proven to decrease within minutes of cooking.
The only and unaffected thing, when broccoli is subjected to heat treatment, is the antioxidant lycopene. Broccoli is relatively poor in lycopene in comparison to other vegetables, like tomatoes, but has a substantial amount none the less.
Studies have proven cooking increases its levels. Lycopene is known to be helpful in boosting the immune system and helping combat cancer.
However, a few benefits come from cooking your broccoli you should consider when weighing the advantages and disadvantages of eating your broccoli raw. Treating broccoli with heat will soften the tough fibers. Cooking will decrease bloating which is typically tied with other vegetables from the cabbage family.
In addition, heat will increase the effectiveness of antioxidants found in broccoli, not just lycopene. Boiling will help preserve the omega 3 fatty acids which help in maintaining brain health. If you keep the heat exposure under a minute and a half and the broccoli is not cooked in water, most of the vitamins and minerals will be preserved 4.
Is It Good To Eat Raw Broccoli?
Therefore, with all of the benefits that come with eating broccoli raw, is it really safe to do so? The answer is yes. Broccoli is perfectly safe to eat raw and is included in many different dishes. Broccoli is one of the most featured food in raw veggie platters with different dips 5.
This is appealing to many people because the preparation time is shorter than many other vegetables. To ensure your broccoli is safe for consumption you need to wash it thoroughly. This will remove any dirt or withered parts of the broccoli.
After that, all you need to do is cut it into more manageable pieces and remove the woody stem. If you don’t like the tough chewy texture, you can remove the remaining skin with a vegetable peeler.
Broccoli prepared this way can be enjoyed in salads, as a snack, or as a side dish. This way you’ll be able to get all the benefits from broccoli. The only side effect of eating broccoli this way is gassiness and bloating caused by the tough fibers in raw broccoli.
Does Cooking Broccoli Kill Nutrients?
Cooking does change the nutritional composition of anything affected by the heat. Many enzymes are destroyed when exposed to heat and its effects are slowed down. Frying will reduce the amount of omega 3 fatty acids.
Many vitamins contained in the broccoli will be removed because of the exposure to the heat. Vitamins like A, K, B and C will be significantly affected by heat exposure.
Even though some of the compounds will be affected by the heat, broccoli will still be packed with nutritional compounds. Many of the benefits will be decreased, but broccoli remains extremely healthy, none the less. In addition, broccoli is high in nutrients but not in calories. This enables you to eat enough and get all the health benefits in smaller portions.
How Do You Make Broccoli More Nutritious?
Broccoli itself is nutritious, and no way of preparation can make it more nutritious than it is on its own. The only way you can increase nutritious value is by pairing it up with another nutritious ingredient.
The most popular combinations are broccoli with roasted butternut squash, stir fried broccoli with chicken and different salads.
Nutrition is increased when raw or cooked broccoli is paired with other vegetables, protein and other ingredients.
Another thing you can do to ensure you’re getting the most nutritional possible is picking the best broccoli. The most obvious signs a broccoli head is not good are browning and yellowing on the edges 6. This indicates that the aging process has started and the nutritional value has already decreased.
The same thing is indicated by any kind of discoloration along the broccoli head. A good, fresh broccoli head will have a firm and tough texture in the stem. If it’s wobbly or soft, it will not have the crispy texture that many like. This indicates the broccoli head you picked up has been sitting on the shelf for a while.
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What is the Healthiest Way to Eat Broccoli?
Picking fresh broccoli and pairing it up with other nutritional ingredients increases its health. In addition, the most important thing to increase the nutritional value is preparing it in a way that preserves the most nutrition.
The safest option is eating your broccoli raw or cooked for a short amount of time. One way to accomplish this is using a microwave oven. The short amount of exposure will enable you to soften the broccoli and bring out the most flavors without affecting the nutrition of the broccoli. Don’t cook the broccoli in water 7.
A popular recipe is chopping the broccoli into small pieces. After you clean and cut the broccoli, let it sit for around an hour and a half to remove as much water as possible. The lack of water makes sure you can cook the broccoli in a shorter amount of time.
Another effective method is shortly sautéing the broccoli with a little bit of water and garlic. This method will preserve the most color and taste. The garlic will enhance the natural flavor of broccoli. The short preparation time will retain its crunchy texture and protect the broccoli fiber.
The same will happen to the other nutrients ensuring you reap the most of the health benefits broccoli has to offer. In addition, this will ensure the protection of sulforaphane.
The last non-destructive way of preparing broccoli is steaming it. This can be done by placing small chunks of broccoli in a strainer over a pot of boiling water. Steaming will ensure your broccoli is cooked through and because it’s not placed in water, all of the broccoli’s nutritional goodness will remain inside it. This way you can get soft broccoli if desired and help you avoid the bloating that typically comes with it.
Steaming the broccoli helps it retain its vitamins. Most vitamins found in broccoli are water soluble which means they will be decreased when prepared in water. This preparation will also protect broccoli’s most prominent minerals like potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium.
Read Next – More Anti-Aging Articles
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Antioxidant and Anticancer Activities of Broccoli By-Products from Different Cultivars and Maturity Stages at Harvest
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effects of different cooking methods on health-promoting compounds of broccoli
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Anticancer Activity of a Broccoli Derivative, Sulforaphane, in Barrett Adenocarcinoma: Potential Use in Chemoprevention and as Adjuvant in Chemotherapy
- Queensland Government: Does how you cook veggies change how good they are for you?
- Fruits & Veggies: Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Broccoli
- USDA: Picking a Winner – Tips and Insight to Selecting Seasonal Produce
- Wiley Online Library: Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking