New research, released today, confirms what your mom has been telling you all of those years: It’s really a good idea to eat your broccoli.
Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University conducted a study to find out whether the nutrients in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli could be obtained just as effectively through supplements.
They found that the body actually absorbed five times less of the glucosinalates—the healthy phyotchemicals found in broccoli—when they were ingested as a supplement. And by supplements they also mean all those healthy green-drink powders you add to smoothies.
The researchers concluded that the body couldn’t absorb the nutrients in the supplements as well because they were missing a necessary enzyme found in the whole food.
Raw foodies can pat themselves on the back, too, since the researchers also found that intensive cooking stripped the broccoli of the same enzyme, making the body less likely to absorb the nutrients. (Steaming or sauteing was fine as long as the veggies remained crunchy.)
So should you swear off all supplements? Not necessarily.
“Adequate levels of nutrients like vitamin D are often difficult to obtain in most diets,” said Emily Ho, the principal investigator. “But the particular compounds that we believe give broccoli and related vegetables their health value need to come from the complete food.” —Lisa Elaine Held