Broccoli is an amazing member of the vegetable family, or more specifically the cabbage family. The term broccoli originates from the Italian broccolo, referring to ‘the flowering top of a cabbage’. This delicious vegetable is often a parents saviour in that it’s one of the least repulsive to children. This being said, despite broccoli looking remarkably like cauliflower, the two are from different cultivar making them distant cousins form the same species. Broccoli was brought to the UK from Antwerp in the 18th century by Peter Scheemakers. Interestingly, broccoli was introduced to the US comparatively later by Italian immigrants around the 1920’s, and has since become a staple there.
Why is Broccoli so great?
Well it’s particularly high in vitamin C, one of the main vitamins for cell health and integrity, immune support and acts as a potent antioxidant. A cup of broccoli delivers more than 52mg of vitamin C, the same as you get from an average orange. Another benefit is that it contains a compound called glucoraphanin, this can be converted into the anti cancer compound known as sulforaphane.
If broccoli is so great then why play around with it, my Dad often tells to remember that you can lose the good through the seeking of perfection…so why take something that is already pretty darn good and tamper with it? Well, scientists have discovered that they can take two natural plant based compounds (methyl jasmonate and 1-methylcylopropene) and using them to improve broccoli’s shelf life, as well as enhancing their health benefits, specifically their anti cancer benefits. Researchers from the University of Illinois assert that the techniques involved are relatively cheap and ‘about as toxic as salt’, basically implying that it’s safe for human consumption.
The anti cancer properties of broccoli makes it an excellent food source for optimising health and minimising the risk of developing cancer. Although many factors play a part in cancer prevention and overall health such as exercise, family history and nutrition, making subtle amendments to the food powerhouses out there may not be such a bad idea. However it opens the debate of whether we run the risk of modifying everything we consume, genetic modification and the likes of is something that it is happening all too often. If a food is in need of some nutritional bolstering then fine, make it better, but if it’s not then why not leave it alone? Time will tell if this amendment is worth the effort, we shall see!
ACES College of agricultural, consumer and environmental sciences. Better broccoli, enhanced anti-cancer benefits with longer shelf life. Retrieved 24th February, 2014, fromaa