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Does Broccoli Really "Fight Cancer"?

Broccoli

You've been urged a few hundred times at the very least to "eat your broccoli." Parents know best, right? So you did. You sat at the dinner table, and you pretended you were a giant eating teeny, tiny trees.

Well, as it turns out your parents wishes for you weren't unfounded.

For many years, we were told by people in fancy white jackets that vegetables such as broccoli—called cruciferous vegetables—had properties that could "kill cancer cells." But do you know why?

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There's compound called sulforaphane in cruciferous vegetables that helps our bodies fight cancer. Sulforaphane actively kill cancer stem cells, slowing a tumor's growth.

Another key word to know: epigenetics. Epigenetics encompasses the idea of how factors like diet can affect our genetic coding, and, ultimately, how those genes are expressed.

Sulforaphane inhibit HDAC enzymes that are known to work against the ability of genes that suppress development of tumors. It has the ability to activate over 200 different genes. In particular, broccoli will activate genes that can prevent cancer development.

According to some studies, sulforaphane also normalizes DNA methylation (the process of when a methyl group is added to a DNA molecule), which is a crucial part of normal cell function and suppressing bad genes.

Abnormal DNA methylation is crucial in the early stages of cancer.

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Broccoli Sprouts

The most interesting part about all these cruciferous vegetables, and broccoli in particular?

Apparently, broccoli shoots contain over 50 times more sulphoraphane than fully mature broccoli.

How can you take full advantage of this effective and affordable cancer-fighter?

According to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition, combining broccoli with spicy foods that contain myrosinase (an enzyme) can actually enhance broccoli's cancer-fighting properties.

Anything from mustard to wasabi can give your broccoli a little boost.

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Incorporate broccoli and broccoli shoots into your diet with these incredible recipes, courtesy of Food & Wine and The Cooking Channel!

Caramelized broccoli with garlic

Caramelized broccoli with garlic

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 heads of broccoli (1 1/4 pounds total), stems peeled and heads halved lengthwise
1/2 cup water
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Method:
1. In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
2. Add the broccoli, cut side down, cover and cook over moderate heat until richly browned on the bottom, about 8 minutes.
3. Add the water, cover and cook until the broccoli is just tender and the water has evaporated, about 7 minutes.
4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil along with the garlic and the crushed red pepper and cook uncovered until the garlic is golden brown, about 3 minutes.
5. Season the broccoli with salt and black pepper, drizzle with the lemon juice and serve.

Tangled carrot and broccoli sprout salad

Tangled carrot and broccoli sprout salad with tahini dressing

Ingredients:
1/3 cup French green (du Puy) lentils, rinsed
3/4 cup water
1 pound assorted orange, red, and purple carrots
2 1/2 cups broccoli shoots
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup toasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
Tahini dressing:
1/4 cup tahini
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 to 3 tablespoons water, as needed

Method:
1. Put the lentils in a pot with the water and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, 15 to 20 minutes, adding water if the liquid has evaporated and the lentils are still tough. Drain the lentils and set aside to cool.
2. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrots. Rest the bottom of one of the peeled carrots on a cutting board. Starting at the skinny tip of the carrot, press firmly down the length of the carrot with the vegetable peeler to create thin shavings. Repeat with the remaining carrots. (If you prefer, you can use a mandoline instead.) Add the shaved carrots to a mixing bowl along with the broccoli shoots and onion.
3. To make the dressing, in a separate small bowl, whisk together the tahini, olive oil, agave nectar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach the consistency of a basic vinaigrette.
4. Add the dressing to the bowl with the vegetables and toss to coat. Add the lentils and half of the pistachios and toss again. Sprinkle the remaining pistachios on top and serve immediately.

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To make this wonder food more accessible, grow broccoli shoots in an Urban Cultivator. It's one of easiest and fastest shoots to plant, and is ready to eat in as little as six days.

Through planting your own in an Urban Cultivator, you can have broccoli shoots 365 days a year and at the comfort of your own home.

What do you think of this news? How do you eat broccoli at home? Let us know in the comments section!

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Sources:

Broccoli-based medicine—A potent tool against osteoarthritis and cancer
Cancer-fighting broccoli: New study sheds light on what makes the veggie so super
Broccoli fights cancer by clearing bad tumor suppressors

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