A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry reported that many of the health benefits associated with eating broccoli require consumption of the whole vegetable. The researchers suggest that this is because key phytonutrients are poorly absorbed and are of far less value if taken as a supplement, according to the new research.
Broccoli, along with cauliflower, Brussells sprouts, cabbage and more, are considered cruciferous vegetables. These vegetables contain glucosinolates (a big word!), a sulphur containing compound on the outer part of the vegetable. They are then metabolized in the body to specific phytonutrients called isothiocyanates (I know, another big word!). Sulforaphane is one of the isothiocyanates being studied along with erucin. Researchers have suggested that sulforaphane is a powerful anti-cancer agent.
These important chemicals are found in the whole food form and contain their own enzymes to assist in the metabolism of glucosinolates to obtain the compounds, sulforaphane and erucin. Their research revealed that the metabolites of these compounds were significantly lower in the subjects who were taking supplements compared to those eating the whole food.
Although some nutrients, such as folic acid, are more highly absorbed as a supplement, the research suggests that the same does not apply to the health benefits of broccoli. So, lets keep eating our broccoli and continue to help our children love it too!