Broccoli is a real and super healthy superfood. Among other things, broccoli consumption is said to prevent cancer. Professor Ingrid Hare from the University of Heidelberg conducted research on this topic and Steffi Strunchik spoke to her about the amazing results.
SWR1: What makes broccoli so healthy?
Ingrid Hare: For example, broccoli is a vegetable rich in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. It has also been discovered to contain many secondary plant matter. One of them, sulforaphane, is particularly interesting. Sulforaphane is a substance that has been studied for a relatively long time. Years ago we found that sulforaphane works against aggressive cancer stem cells. Sulforaphane is a small, biologically active molecule that has an anti-inflammatory effect. This is very important because inflammation is the Achilles heel of many cancer cells.
SWR1: By what name do we know sulforaphane?
the master: Sulforaphane is mustard oil. So far we know that broccoli and the entire cabbage family contain what’s called mustard oil. In addition, the substance is known from horseradish or radish, as mustard oil provides a pungent taste. You also note that broccoli contains mustard oils because broccoli is a bit bitter.
SWR1: A 2019 “broccoli study” was conducted in cancer patients with promising results. What and how much did the participants eat?
the master: Because of our experimental research, we really wanted to test this on patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. The patients had to take 15 capsules of freeze-dried broccoli sprouts daily.
SWR1: Can eating a lot of broccoli help cancer patients?
the master: At least that’s what we recommend. Because we don’t know how many broccoli sprouts patients should eat. Of course, overeating can have harmful side effects. You are always on the safe side with a daily diet. Not only do you have to eat broccoli, but you can help yourself with the whole cruciferous family. And you can find vegetables in every supermarket. This is not only broccoli, but also broccoli, radish, radish, watercress, mustard, canola oil, etc. Lots of different types of vegetables. If you incorporate it into your daily diet then I think you are on the safe side. Mustard oil has an anti-inflammatory effect and I think you can tell. At least I can see that in my case.
SWR1: What is the best way to absorb mustard oil?
the master: I always suggest preparing vegetables fresh. When it comes to nutritional supplements with broccoli sprouts, there are now so many products on the market that they don’t even know which one is really good and how the prices are justified. We say: fresh preparation every day is still the cheapest and perhaps the most useful.
SWR1: What kind of preparation do you recommend?
the master: This has also been researched in detail. It has been found that the best way to prepare mustard oil is to fry it in a frying pan for 5 minutes. Break the broccoli into small florets and fry in good vegetable oil for five minutes until crispy. This is the best way to preserve fabrics. If you want to boil broccoli in water, you can do that too. But one must keep in mind that the active ingredients leach into the cooking water. Then you should prepare the sauce with the cooking water instead of pouring it away.
SWR1: Do you also recommend broccoli or broccoli sprouts for cancer prevention?
the master: In our recommendations to patients, we generally suggest a vegetarian diet: less meat, lots of fish, and avoiding alcohol and smoking. This is also a recommendation for cancer prevention, for example from the German Cancer Society. She also recommends incorporating broccoli and other types of cabbage into your daily diet and reducing the most harmful foods and drinks. It should be a preventative from cancer. Recent studies show that a healthy lifestyle protects about 30 percent of cancer. The remaining percentages are due to other, less controllable factors.
SWR1: Why are broccoli sprouts healthier than cultivated vegetables?
the master: Broccoli sulfide is not made to treat humans from cancer, but to protect themselves from predators, for example. When caterpillar or other pests bite broccoli, it tastes so bitter that the caterpillar stops relatively quickly. And even fungi and bacteria are “repelled” by the mustard oils in broccoli. So it works as a natural antibiotic. Broccoli sprouts have the advantage that the plant tries to protect its sprouts from predators and bacteria. Therefore, these sprouts produce more mustard oil than adult broccoli.
SWR1: Broccoli sprouts have recently attracted negative attention because they were contaminated with EHEC. Is it safe to buy broccoli sprouts?
the master: I’ll be careful there too. Buds naturally like to attract pathogenic diarrheal pathogens such as EHEC due to the warm, moist germination. But, I guess you can smell it, the moment it smells a bit unpleasant – this also applies to a prepackaged salad – if it doesn’t smell fresh anymore, I won’t eat it. Also, self-growth on the windowsill is dangerous. You need to do it when it is warm, so that it goes quickly and does not spoil anything. It is also important that the seeds you take to germinate without knots. In the case of the EHEC incident mentioned in 2011, it was found that pathogens were indeed present in the seeds. If you buy broccoli sprouts as freeze-dried sprouts that you can eat, you should be sure to have the sprouts checked for bacterial contamination by an independent laboratory. So Salmonella is not included, EHEC pathogens are not included. I think this is important.