Second Strategy to Cooking Broccoli

Image Credit: Jessica Spengler / Flickr. This image has been modified.

How to Cook Broccoli

When I used to teach medical students at Tufts, I gave a lecture about this amazing new therapeutic called “iloccor-B.” I’d talk about all the new science, all the things it could do, its excellent safety profile. Just as they were all scrambling to buy stock in the company and prescribe it to all their patients, I’d do the big reveal. Apologizing for my “dyslexia,” I would admit that I’d got it backwards. All this time I had been talking about broccoli.

The main active ingredient in broccoli is thought to be sulforaphane, which may protect our brains, protect our eyesight, protect our bodies against free radicals, boost our detoxification enzymes, and help prevent and treat cancer.

In my videos The Best Detox and  Sometimes the Enzyme Myth is the Truth, I talked about how the formation of sulforaphane is like a chemical flare reaction, requiring the mixing of a precursor compound with an enzyme, which is destroyed by cooking. This may explain why we get dramatic suppression of cancer cell growth from raw broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, but hardly anything from boiled, microwaved or steamed (except for microwaved broccoli, which actually retains some cancer fighting abilities). But who wants to eat raw Brussels sprouts?

There is a strategy to get the benefits of raw in cooked form. In raw broccoli, the sulforaphane precursor, called glucoraphanin, mixes with the enzyme (myrosinase) when you chew or chop it. If given enough time—such as when sitting in your upper stomach waiting to get digested—sulforaphane is born. The precursor and sulforaphane are resistant to heat and therefore cooking, but the enzyme is destroyed. No enzyme = no sulforaphane.

That’s why I described the “hack and hold” technique—if we chop the broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, or cauliflower first and then wait 40 minutes, we can cook them all we want. The sulforaphane is already made; the enzyme has already done its job, so we don’t need it anymore.

When most people make broccoli soup, for example, they’re doing it wrong. Most people cook the broccoli first, then blend it. We now know it should be done the exact opposite way. Blend it first, wait, and then cook it.

What if we’re using frozen broccoli, though? In my video, Second Strategy to Cooking Broccoli, you can see the amount of sulforaphane in someone’s body after they eat broccoli soup made from fresh broccoli versus from frozen broccoli. The difference is dramatic. Commercially produced frozen broccoli lacks the ability to form sulforaphane because vegetables are blanched (flash-cooked) before they’re frozen for the very purpose of deactivating enzymes. This prolongs shelf life in the frozen foods section, but the myrosinase is dead by the time you take it out of your freezer. It doesn’t matter how much you chop it, or how long you wait, no sulforaphane is going to be made. This may be why fresh kale suppresses cancer cell growth up to ten times more than frozen.

The frozen broccoli is still packed with the precursor—remember that’s heat resistant—and we could get lots of sulforaphane out of the frozen broccoli by adding some outside enzyme. Where do we get myrosinase enzyme from? Researchers just buy theirs from a chemical company. But we can just walk into any grocery store.

All cruciferous vegetables have this myrosinase. Mustard greens, a cruciferous vegetable, grow out of little mustard seeds, which we can buy ground up in the spice aisle as mustard powder. If we sprinkled some mustard powder on our cooked frozen broccoli, would it start churning out sulforaphane? We didn’t know…until now.

Boiling broccoli prevents the formation of any significant levels of sulforaphane due to inactivation of the enzyme. However, researchers from the University of Reading found that the addition of powdered mustard seeds to the heat processed broccoli significantly increased the formation of sulforaphane. In the video I mentioned earlier, Second Strategy to Cooking Broccoli, you can see the amount of sulforaphane in boiled broccoli versus the amount after half a teaspoon or a teaspoon of mustard powder is added. Both a half teaspoon and a full teaspoon increase sulforaphane by the same amount, suggesting that we could use even use less mustard powder for the same effect. Therefore, although domestic cooking leads to the deactivation of myrosinase and stops sulforaphane formation, the addition of powdered mustard seeds to cooked cabbage-family vegetables provides a natural source of the enzyme such that it’s practically like eating them raw.

So, if we forget to chop our greens in the morning for the day, or are using frozen, we can just sprinkle some mustard powder on top at the dinner table and we’re all set. Daikon radish, horseradish, or wasabi—all cruciferous vegetables packed with the enzyme—work as well. Just a quarter teaspoon of Daikon radish root for seven cups of broccoli worked—just a tiny pinch can do it. Or you can add a small amount of fresh greens to your cooked greens, because the fresh greens have myrosinase enzyme that can go to work on the cooked greens.

I love kitchen chemistry—it totally revolutionized my daily greens prep. One of the first things I used to do in the morning is chop my greens for the day, so when lunch and supper rolls around they’d be good to go. But now with the mustard powder plan, I don’t have to pre-chop.

This helps explain the results I presented in Raw Broccoli and Bladder Cancer Survival.

OK, but what’s so great about this sulforaphane stuff? For a taste, see:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More Than an Apple a Day, From Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

94 responses to “How to Cook Broccoli

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  1. I love these practical tips! Just cut up broccoli, kale, cauliflower, collards etc 40 minutes before cooking, or add mustard powder, daikon or other raw cruciferous after cooking to get all the benefits these wonderful vegetables provide.

    1. Just last Saturday, at Trader Joe, I found a product called riced cauliflower, which is cauliflower chopped into small pieces the size and shape of a grain of rice. Inside the bag, it looks like cooked white rice. I added it, uncooked, to pasta and also sprinkled on a salad. Assuming that the chopping had created at least some sulforaphane, I tried to cook it into a curry but ended up with a dish that looked and felt like fried rice! One disadvantage of this product is, to my nose, it smells worse than whole cauliflower.

      1. Riced cauliflower sounds really interesting and like a fun way to serve cauliflower. Maybe what you smelled in the cauliflower that had been cut for so long was the sulforaphane as it’s one of the substances that gives crucifers their distinctive smell. I bet you could make it yourself and thus fresher by whirring up cauliflower florets in a food processor.

        1. Yes, I occasionally put my cauliflower into a blender and use it as a rice substitute. It’s more expensive than brown rice though.

  2. Your March 2012 video changed the way I prepare greens. This post gives more ideas. When I started studying your website (and I do mean study), I had frequent symptoms of multiple chronic diseases and ulcerative colitis had been wildly out of control for 2 years. All have reversed and the UC has been in complete remission since early 2015 when I made the last major transition toward WFPB diet. I year later it remains in full remission with only 1/4 the prescribed medication. I hope to go to zero. Frequent chest pains have stopped. Ditto head pains (my family has a lot of stroke victims). Chronic hypertension is now reversing and my cholesterol is 170 total, and still dropping. Even the arthritis (or what it felt like anyway) has almost completely dissipated. No medication was used for any of these other problems that I wasn’t even trying to solve. I would have been content just to stop the internal bleeding. I am very grateful and appreciative you collected all this in a book. Pre-chopped broccoli, collards and kale are a daily event. And after going through your entire library (taking notes in my offline library), I still learn from you.
    Very, very grateful.

  3. You didn’t (this time) mention the most powerful way to get your sulforaphane and that is in broccoli sprouts. Just a ounce or two of sprouts on your salad is as good as eating a pound and half of raw broccoli. Can’t stand the flavor, here is one idea, add them to your breakfast smoothie (if you can hide a couple of cups of kale or spinach in a smoothie without making it taste like a liquid salad, then a half cup of sprouts should be no problem). Rather than put them straight in blender, I think there might be advantage to grinding them up in a mortar and pestle so that the glucoraphanin has time to mix with the myrosinase before being diluted in the large amount of other liquids in the smoothie.

      1. 1. Soak seeds 6 hours (times vary for dif seeds, this is broccoli) completely submerged in water in a mason jar in a dark, area that is room temp (kitchen cupboard)
        2. Strain water out after the 6 hours and add a protective material that will allow air, but not bugs, through. Examples: paper towel laid on top, sprayed with a spray bottle which will seal it to the ring of the bottle. Alternatively: shirts, cheesecloths, etc are great with a rubber-band to keep them a hold.
        3. Twice a day (I get away with once a day too, but ideally, twice) fill the jar with water until the seeds/sprouts are submerged. Then strain the seeds to remove water and put the protective material back on top. If you are getting mold, it could be because after you strain, you aren’t paying attention to how much water is collected in the bottom of the container afterward. You should strain them, put the jar down, wait 30 secs and then observe to see if there is water collected in the bottom. You don’t want water collected, you just want the seeds/sprouts to be wet from the wash/rinse.
        4. Sprouts will have decent length in 3-5 days. I like to put them near light once they have a good root length and the cotyledons (first leaves) are visible. This will turn them nice and green to ensure that you’re getting those healthy chloroplasts in your belly.
        5. Oh and one last thing, don’t mistake root hairs for mold. Roots grow tiny lil hairs that could resemble mold if you don’t know it, but really, they are just trying to reach out any way they can for the liquid gold they love and those lil root hairs give them a bit more surface area of absorption.

        Hope that helps

      2. Mine don’t sprout in my cold kitchen in the winter, but they sprout fine the rest of the year. Positioning the sprouting jars near a heat source, such as on top of the fridge, might help. The websites of companies that sell seeds to gardeners might show the optimum sprouting temperature.

        1. Mine don’t sprout well either in my house, don’t know if it’s Ohio winter or that I keep the house at 64! In any event, I’ve had GREAT sucess storing the jars and growing them in the oven!

      3. I use the Vogel Biosnacky Seed Sprouters (jars) and never have an issue. As has been mentioned already, the change the water twice a day and rinse a few times. You can always add a pinch of salt (liquid salt solay is great) or sodium bicarbonate to help kill any bugs in there; just rinse a couple of times after. Once they look ready transfer to a container/bag for storage on the fridge. Don’t over grow them as that often leads to mould in my experience. Good luck

  4. If I used my favorite salad dressing, a simple mix of balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard, to dress cooked broccoli would there be enough myrosinase in the prepared mustard to react with the glucoraphanin in the cooked broccoli (or brussel sprouts, etc), or should I also mix in some powdered mustard?

    1. Jim: This question was asked back when Joseph was here. He guessed that since prepared mustard is cooked, that prepared mustard would not work.

      1. Jim and Thea: Even some commercially available mustard powders are irradiated with UV light, which is known to denature proteins. The best choice would be to buy whole mustard seeds and grind them at home.

          1. I used a pepper grinder on fine to grind brown mustard seeds which does not subject them to the prolonged heat (140F heat during the several hours required in mustard making), then added to mayonaise with a bit of honey for a great tasting honey mustard good for sprout “powerhouse” sandwiches and as a dressing for blanched or microwaved Broccoli. Also used some sour cream and probably greek style plain yogurt would work well. To me it tasted better than prepared mustards. Mustards also use a lot of vinegar–not sure if that low a pH damages the enzymes.

  5. In “Eating on the Wild Side” Jo Robinson says to chop or press garlic ten minutes before exposing it to the heat of the pan in order to get the benefits of eating garlic. She says this not true for onions.

  6. what I use to do is eating raw purple cabbage..maybe its just 1/4 the Sulforaphane but it’s easier to do. By the way, I think Ive read/heard somewhere Dr Greger saying purple cabbage has the same antioxidants as berries? Does anyone know about this? Thank you :)

    1. Yes, purple cabbage has anthocyanins, hence the purple color. Berries also have anthocyanins. But anthocyanins are not one compound but a class of compounds, so it’s good to eat a wide variety of things containing anhocyanins so as to get the whole spectrum.

  7. I find that a convenient way to try and add “sulforaphane” to my diet is to blend broccoli sprouts with a small amount of water to make a thick liquid and then add it to a soup after the soup has been heated. Does anyone know if this method would allow the sulforaphane to be generated? I also add mustard powder to the soup as an additional measure. Thanks in advance for any responses.

    1. Yes, I’m sure that blending broccoli sprouts activates the production of sulforaphane. However, you’ll still need to wait the requisite 40 minutes after blending before subjecting the pureed broccoli sprouts to heat.

      1. What about freezing the mixture after waiting 40 minutes? Would the benefits be destroyed if I made a big batch and froze them in ice cube trays. That way I could throw them into recipes as I needed to… and I wouldn’t have to make it energy day.

  8. Michael, I think this should be the “if you have to” and not a replacement for getting the Sulforaphane naturally from the plant source (vs the Mustard Powder which has been dried etc). Sounded to me like you are saying that this is your “go to” for convenience now. Absolutely nothing scientific from that notion, but if it can be produced naturally from a fresh, living tissue, why not? Just a thought.

    1. After. The point of adding the mustard powder is to supply an ingredient that goes away with high heat. So, if you are starting with pre-cooked broccoli (i.e., frozen), you can maximize the cancer fighting properties of the broccoli by adding in the mustard powder after the broccoli has been heated up.

        1. Hi Ivi,

          I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thank you so much for your question.

          Yes!! Wasabi powder can be a replacement for mustard powder, as wasabi is part of the same family of foods that produce sulforaphane. However, this is assuming that the wasabi powder is either raw (hasn’t been cooked) or that it was ground up before being cooked. I am unfamiliar with the process of making wasabi powder.

          I hope that this helps to answer your question!

  9. Wonderful and so helpful. Does anyone know whether or not enzymes are preserved if I cut the broccoli, wait 40 minutes and then freeze it — then cook when needed? Thanks so much.

  10. For years, I knew the value of sulforaphane in cancer prevention, but was puzzled until now about how to get enough in the daily diet– and consistently enough to make a major preventive (therapeutic) difference.

    Dr. Greger’s gems of nutritional magic are an enormous daily benefit to me, as I discover the wealth of research he makes available– often, for the first time, anywhere.

    What a wonderful idea it has turned out to be to trust the lay public to understand ground-breaking new research into nutrition.

    Dr. Greger began his medical career in hope of bringing about the same marvelous health benefit he witnessed as a boy with his grandmother, who was wheeled into a Pritikin clinic but walked out by herself.

    So, a Valentine to Dr. Greger for all the good work he, his staff and volunteers do every day.

  11. Well that will change the way I prepare my kale. I grow lots and usually store it in the freezer but I’ll start chopping it up first, leave it for a bit and then freeze it. It will take less room in the freezer as well. I use it in smoothies a lot so it’s going to be put through a blender anyway. Or add some powdered mustard seeds to my smoothie. Don’t know how that would taste.

    1. Would regular mustard work to pull out the sulforaphane vs. the m. powder? Plain org. yellow mustard sure sparkles up a vegan salad, bean dish, and or the right soup/stew/goulash, and a plethora of old schooldays recipes-turned-vegan. (PS: Can the HUS dept. you direct choose a name other than PH&Animal Agriculture? It would add a lot of torque to your indescribably excellent work).

  12. What about precut, bagged fresh kale? I noticed that Wegmans just started selling it. I would assume that the sulforaphane is present there and has already mixed with the enzyme…

  13. Would adding raw broccoli sprouts to cooked crucifers work to max out the sulforaphane availability? They are a raw crucifer, clearly, but I’m wondering if sprouting messes with the mechanism or if maybe it’s not fully developed yet in the young sprouts?

    1. Both yellow and Dijon mustard are subjected to heat of 140 or more degrees during a long grinding period and also to heat from high speed blending. According to Dr. G heat destroys the necessary enzyme and is likely why he recommends powder which may be subjected less to heat. I supposed you could just use a mortar and pestle to grind them yourself. Don’t know if a pepper mill will grind them they seem tougher than black pepper berries and an electric spice grinder will add a bit of heat, I know it adds a lot of heat to coffee beans which is why people use burr grinders instead.

  14. I have a general question about prepared vegetables. My favorite way to cook vegetables and my best way to enhance vegetable input for my family is roasting. I know must time steaming it’s the best, but do you think with most roasting vegetables all the time it’s still ok?
    And a second question do you have studies for nutrition loss from however cooked vegetables that are stored in the fridge? So would it be very negative to pre roast (etc.) some veggies and pack them in the fridge for, let’s say 3-4 days?

  15. I eat a majority of my broccoli raw so haven’t thought much about hack and hold though it’s nice to be aware of re. preparing dishes with cooked broccoli. But I was curious as to whether there are any health benefits at all from cooked broccoli sans hacking and holding ? E.g. I sometimes like to order broccoli dishes at restaurants. Would it be better to skip the restaurant broccoli dishes in favor of dishes with other veggies whose health benefits survive cooking ?

  16. Food for thought :) I just read the following on Wikipedia. So what should we do then? :)

    Isothiocyanates, the primary product of glucosinolate hydrolysis, has been known to prevent iodine uptake in the thyroid, causing goiters. [25] Isothiocyanates in high concentrations have also been known to cause hepatotoxicity, or liver damage.[4] However, more recent studies have shown that diets high in glucosinolate-containing vegetables such as dietary brassicas have been associated with lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.[2] [26] Isothiocyanates have been shown to induce phase II detoxification enzymes involved in the xenobiotic metabolism of carcinogens.[27] There has been increasing evidence to suggest that a myrosinase-like enzyme may also be present in members of the human gut microbiome. Although myrosinase, like many enzymes, will be denatured at high temperatures and thus lose its activity when cooked, a gut microbe capable of catalyzing the same hydrolysis of glucosinolates would be able to activate ingested glucosinolates into their more potent forms, e.g. isothiocyanates. [28] [29]

    According to an article in the NEJM, a Chinese woman who ate 1 to 1.5 kg (approximately 2 to 3 pounds) of raw bok choy daily developed severe hypothyroidism due to excessive ingestion of myrosinase.

  17. I really hope someone can help me with this: What about claims that you have to cook those vegetables or they are actually harmful? Are those debunked?

    “Cabbage, broccoli, kale, are cruciferous vegetables, which contain substances called goitrogens. Foods that contain goitrogens are also called goitrogenic foods.
    And for a good reason: they got their name from goiter, which is basically an enlarged thyroid. This is because they can cause your thyroid gland to malfunction.
    And the last thing you want to do is mess up with your thyroid gland.
    Because this gland regulates your body temperature and your mood.
    It also produces hormones that regulate how fast your body uses energy, as well as the use of calcium in your body (this is absolutely essential, as our body uses calcium everywhere).
    It controls how your body responds to other hormones and how it makes some proteins.
    Does it mean these veggies are not good for you?
    No. It simply means they need to be cooked and not eaten raw.
    This is because goitrogens are neutralized (partially) by cooking.
    Cabbage, broccoli, kale, bok choy, spinach, are veggies that need to be cooked.”

  18. I chop broccoli into bite size pieces and stir in a mixture of oil, lemon juice and Bragg Liquid Aminos which breaks down the texture of the broccoli making it tender and great flavor. Does this interfere with the process of sulforaphane? Sounds like it is another way to preserve the sulforaphane process.

  19. Hi Beverly and thanks for the great question! The answer is: it would be impossible to know without an actual test of the sulforaphane level, but there is a problem here in that acids, such as the citric acid found in lemon juice, often “denature” (inactivate) proteins such as the enzyme myrosinase. It may or may not make a difference. We’ll never know without actual lab tests.

    Thanks for reading!
    Dr. Ben

    1. Thanks for your question, Morrys,

      I know that enzyme is found in horseradish and wasabi, but watch out since you could be intolerant to them, too!

      Please let us know how it works for you. :-)

      Moderator Adam P.

  20. Hi, Merri. Yes, cooking with mustard powder would likely destroy the myrosinase. It is best to sprinkle it on the cooked broccoli. You could include the mustard powder in a sauce to be added to the broccoli, as long as the sauce is not cooked, or the mustard powder is added to it after cooking. I hope that helps!

  21. So if I was to blend frozen broccoli and mustard powder that would produce sulphorphane? I use frozen spinach in my smoothie everyday but I’d like to get more sulphorphane for my inflammation (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/M.E.) frozen is just easier. What do you think? Also does frozen spinach have sulphorphane? Thanks heaps

  22. Tony,
    Yes you are correct. The mustard has the enzyme to activate the precursor in the frozen broccoli. You may want to consider Kale instead of spinach in your smoothie. It has more sulforaphane. However, the best source overall is broccoli sprouts, which are very easy to do at home.

  23. Curious, does the liquid inside of the vegetable do all of this? For example, were I to juice one of those vegetables, and put the pulp to the side for later use, would the same chemical reaction still be happening in the pulp itself, sans the majority of the liquid that was in it? And does it matter how small the cuts are? As in, would it be better to cut it into smaller pieces to get more of a reaction during its wait time, or are florets just fine?

    1. Christy,
      Thanks for your questions. Its been demonstrated time and again that extracting out food components greatly reduces the beneficial effects of their nutrients. I would not recommend extracting the juice from the pulp. I’m not aware of any specific studies doing this with broccoli; its just a general principle of Whole Food Plant Based eating for maximum nutritional benefit. The more cuts, however, the better in this case. For the “biggest bang for your buck” try broccoli sprouts since it has even more sulphoraphane. Here’s more interesting videos on sulphoraphane .

      1. I’m sorry for the late reply – wanted to message to say thank you for your help!

        I mainly asked because of the effect that goitrogens have on me, though my body didn’t react well to broccoli sprouts, for some reason. I love cruciferous veggies, though, so I just resort to cooking them long and slow. The question about juicing was because I’ve noticed many recipes separating cruciferous veggies from their juice after cooking, and since foods normally lose liquid when cooked, I wanted to inquire about what effect the food’s inherent levels of moisture might have.

        I have a quick question on this site’s page for “Carcinogens in the Smell of Frying Bacon,” as well, though – could you please help me with it? If not, that’s okay. I wanted to thank you, either way, and say many thanks for this wonderful site!

  24. Tried this and the bitterness in the mustard powder ruined the dish! Will prepared mustard work? Does vinegar impair/inhibit/destroy/whatever myrosinase. Found homemade mustard recipe which is just water, vinegar, salt, sugar, and mustard powder allowed to sit in jar in fridge for few days to mellow, will this work?

  25. Hi Metrobusman – Mustard powder does have a strong taste! You only need to use a very small amount, about a 1/2 teaspoon total, to reintroduce the myrosinase enzyme to get sulforaphane production. I am only familiar with heat destroying the myrosinase enzyme and could not find anything specifically on vinegar. Another simple solution is to set aside a few small pieces of raw cruciferous veggies while you cook your dish, and then sprinkle these on top of your finished product. I hope this gives you some other ideas!

    -Janelle, RD CD
    Health Support Volunteer

    1. Thx. Perhaps I just got a bad batch of Coleman’s mustard powder becuz I put precisely 1/2 tsp of it on boiled rutabaga and when I tried some the taste was so vile that I had to spit it out. The tiny bit I did inadvertently swallow roiled my stomach for some time thereafter. The worst thing I had ever tasted.

      Bought some delish daikon pickles from my local Asian grocer. No nitrites on the label…

  26. Hi,

    I have seen a number of articles describing how to maximize the sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts/broccoli.

    Specifically, to maximize the formation of sulforaphane in broccoli, they found that heating it for 10 minutes at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) did the trick. Here is a link to one such paper

    Has Nutrition Facts any research / thoughts on this approach?


  27. Does the chopped broccoli need to sit out on the counter for 40 minutes, or could it be put right in the refrigerator and still produce the sulforaphane? If it has to sit out on the counter, should it be exposed to the air, or can it be in an air-tight container? Thank you!

  28. Daikon radish was mentioned as an additive that would help cooked broccoli produce Sulforaphane. Would regular garden radishes have the same effect?

  29. Hi I’m a RN health support volunteer. That’s a great question. Any fresh cruciferous vegetable would have the same ability to help cooked cruciferous vegetables start producing Sulforaphane again. Radishes are a cruciferous vegetable so that would be an effective additive to your frozen broccoli.


  30. Can I get an equal effect by adding dijon mustard (ingredients: vinegar, water, mustard seed, salt, spices) rather than straight up mustard seed powder?

    The first I can handle. The second makes me want to gag.

    1. Hi Jude, I believe Dr. Greger said in the past that it needs to be the powder. I find that I don’t even notice the powder if I just use a little bit.

  31. Why is 40 minutes vs. 10? Where did that # comes from? A cow chewing cruciferous veg doesn’t take 40 minutes. So where does that # come from I want a paper, an authority not conjecture.

  32. Hi, Paul A. Borst! Forty minutes appears to be a time long enough allow the enzymes to do their work without allowing other nutrients in broccoli to significantly degrade. This information comes from multiple papers. You can find the sources cited in the videos here: Click the “Sources Cited” link below the video window. I hope that helps!

  33. Is the enzyme still active in fresh cruciferous if you buy it pre-chopped? It is mentioned that it takes 40 minutes to fully release, but once it has released, can it disperse?

  34. Hi, Dean! As far as I know, the enzyme sulforaphane should still be potent in fresh, pre-chopped cruciferous veggies, as long as they really are fresh. Although I have no data on this, I suspect the sulforaphane would break down somewhat over time, but I don’t know how long that might take. It makes sense that, if nature prevents a helpful chemical reaction from happening until a food is consumed, then there is a reason for it. As mentioned above, you can also get this reaction to occur after cooking, by adding some mustard. More on that here: You can find everything on this site related to sulforaphane here: I hope that helps!

  35. I often purchase bags of chopped broccoli at Costco. As the broccoli has been chopped and bagged for days before purchase (and I might take another week to consume it), can I assume that the myrosinase is already present due to the chopping prior to bagging it for sale?

    Obviously, you don’t need to chop it again.

    If the myrosinase would be produced by the (i’m guessing here) mechanical chopping prior to bagging for sale, this seems to me to be the easiest way to ensure you are absorbing the isothiocyanates, or glucosinolates, as the myrosinase should be active.

    I would appreciate any comments on this.

    Nathan Zassman

  36. I have a question. How long does the reaction take for Glucoraphanin and myrosinas to form sulforaphane? If I chop kale in a blender really good, and then cook it (let’s say to make kale burritos) does that give the reaction enough time to make the sulforaphane which is not sensitive to heat?

  37. Erik,

    Good question and the short answer: it depends……for an in depth dive into the chemistry see: Optimisation of enzymatic production of sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts and their total antioxidant activity at different growth and storage days at: and did you know that your GI bacteria are hard at work doing some of the conversion ?:

    If your wanting to push the sulforaphane you can do a combination of approaches: see both Dr. G’s and Helathspan’s sites.

    Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger

  38. Hello,
    Can one use a small amount organic stone ground mustard as a substitute for a “tiny pinch of mustard seed” or “horseradish” to steamed Brussels sprouts if one does not “hack and hold” this cruciferous vegetable or others for 40 minutes to provide a natural source of the myrosinase enzyme such that it’s practically like eating them raw?

    Thank you.

  39. Interesting question! I did some research to clarify if mustard involves cooking which might affect the enzymes that are so helpful. It appears mustard does not require cooking, just grinding the seeds, adding vinegar, spices, etc, so it seems mustard should work the same as the ground mustard seeds. You might want to check out the specific mustard you are using- or, as I was surprised to learn, you can just make your own stone ground mustard (lots of recipes on the internet) Dr. Greger mentions use of horseradish as having the same positive effects as the ‘tiny pinch of mustard seed.” so you can use either. Hope that helps. ,

  40. What medium would you recommend to apply the mustard powder? Currently i ak just sprinkling it onto my steamed brocc, but due to the ‘clumpy’ nature of the powder, I’m concerned it’s only getting applied to small portions of the vegetable. im wondering whether I could apply it via an olive-oil based horseradish/mustard powder dressing to ensure the coating is thorough, thus maximising sulforaphane production. Thoughts?

    Geordie from Australia

  41. Does cauliflower have to be chopped 45 minutes before cooking, similar to your recommendations for broccoli?

    And are broccoli sprouts considered a substitute for greens?

  42. Hi, Kathleen Donaghy! Like broccoli, it is reasonable to assume that the sulforaphane in cauliflower may be activated by the “hack and hold” strategy described above, or by adding some mustard powder, horseradish, or daikon as a condiment after cooking. You might be interested in this ICYMI: Yes, broccoli sprouts count as greens, and include loads of sulforaphane. I hope that helps!

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