One of the benefits that comes from eating cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and purple cabbage is consumption of sulforaphane, a naturally occurring anticancer compound. However, do you know that boiling these vegetables for longer than 4 minutes destroys most of their sulforaphane? Besides eating these vegetables raw (I like purple cabbage raw, but not broccoli) are there any foods that when combined reduce sulforaphane destruction? Luckily, the answer is yes!
In the figure below, the white bars indicate the amount of sulforaphane present after 4, 8 or 12 minutes of boiling. Boiling broccoli for 8 minutes destroys almost 2/3 of its sulforaphane, and after 12 minutes, sulforaphane is ~75% reduced. Adding ground mustard seeds (grey bars) at a relative to broccoli concentration of 1% or 2% restored broccoli’s sulforaphane content almost completely back to initial levels after 4, 8 and 12 minutes of boiling. It’s important to note that a mustard seed concentration of 1%, relative to broccoli translates into 3 grams of mustard seed powder per 300 grams of broccoli! That’s not a lot!
Ghawi SK, Methven L, Niranjan K. The potential to intensify sulforaphane formation in cooked broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) using mustard seeds (Sinapis alba). Food Chem. 2013 Jun 1;138(2-3):1734-41.