We want the biggest bang for our efforts. And that goes for our healthy eating too. Many people aren’t keen on eating veg, so if they are making the effort, we want to make sure they get the maximum goodness out of them. Find out how to do that with cooked cruciferous vegetables. 

The last couple of weeks I’ve blogged about types of cruciferous vegetables, their benefits, how to prepare them, and I’ve included a couple of raw cruciferous veg recipes

But what happens if you forget about the myrosinase time or a recipe didn’t include chopping the veg much to release myrosinase. Can you remedy that?

Also, what about frozen cruciferous veg? Can you use them and still get sulforaphane?

Sulforaphane production refresher

If you missed my previous blog post on how you get maximum sulforaphane from cruciferous vegetables, you can click back to it.  Otherwise, here is a quick overview

  • sulforaphane has many potential benefits in the body as it acts to switch on genes that help protect cells, improve detoxification, and many other things
  • cruciferous veg don’t contain sulforaphane but they can make it from two chemicals (glycosinolates and myrosinase) they hold separately from each other in the plant. 
  • to make the sulforaphane from cruciferous veg you have to chop them when they are raw – or chew them. This brings the two chemicals together and sulforaphane is made.
  • if you cook cruciferous vegetables, you should chop them and leave them for at least 15 minutes before cooking, to let the sulforaphane form, otherwise, the chemistry won’t happen.  I call this the “myrosinase time” –  the time taken for the myrosinase chemical to do its stuff. Cooking destroys myrosinase so you need to give it time to do its stuff, before cooking. 

Vegetables are good at sharing myrosinase!

If the recipe you are making didn’t seem to work out where you could chop the cruciferous vegetables and leave them for 15 minutes before cooking, have you lost all that potential sulforaphane power?  Or maybe you forgot or didn’t have enough time for the myrosinase 15 minutes. Can you remedy the situation and still get some sulforaphane? 

Yes, you can. The crucial part is the myrosinase which is destroyed by heating/cooking. We need to find another way to add that. 

But vegetables are good at sharing! If you have cooked your veg without myrosinase time, the other chemical is still in the plant, it just needs some myrosinase to get it working. So the solution is to add some other vegetable with myrosinase in it.

For example, mustard is a great myrosinase saver.  If you’ve cooked your veg without myrosinase time, sprinkle over some crushed mustard seeds or a dollop of mustard and that provides the myrosinase and the chemistry can begin. Yes, mustard is a cruciferous vegetable – so will share its myrosinase with others. 

The other solution is to add some other raw cruciferous veg to your dish. So if you have got some roasted veggies, add a little raw watercress, crunchy radish, or broccoli sprouts on top – and they will provide the necessary myrosinase. 

The combination of cooked and raw is a good one as there are more chemicals in cruciferous veg than just sulforaphane and some are more accessible when cooked and some when raw. 

What about frozen cruciferous veg?

Yes, using frozen veg is often a good and economical way to go. However, with cruciferous veg like broccoli and cauliflower, before freezing, the vegetables are blanched. This means they are quickly heated in boiling water – which destroys the myrosinase enzyme and thus sulforaphane can’t be produced. 

But that’s fine. You just follow the “sharing” of myrosinase ideas we’ve discussed above and the frozen broccoli will still produce sulforaphane. So add a bit of mustard or add another raw cruciferous veg to your plate and you’ll get all that goodness. 

What about thyroid health and cruciferous veg?

You may well have read that eating cruciferous veg can affect your thyroid function. This is really only an issue if you are deficient in iodine. We get iodine from fish, seafood, seaweed etc – and it’s also in some multivitamin/mineral  supplements. So we want to make sure we are eating cruciferous vegetable regularly for their health-giving benefits, but as with all essential vitamins and minerals, we don’t want to be deficient in iodine.  

Take-home message for cooked cruciferous vegetables

The best approach is to mix things up a bit over the week. Have some raw and some lightly cooked, using either “myrosinase time” or sharing myrosinase to get the most sulforaphane we can, no matter how it is prepared. 

So make time for myrosinase or else let your veg do some myrosinase sharing. 

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