The year was 1992 and the then US president, George Bush, famously announced: “I’m president of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” But as Papa Bush would have read and discovered, there’s a reason mothers, for generations, have been trying to shove it down the stubborn and unreceptive gullets of their children.
Broccoli, which originated in Italy but is now being produced widely around the world (India is its second largest producer), is among the top 10 superfoods. It is one of the most nutrient-rich foods in the world: It’s packed with nutrients to fight arthritis and cataract, boost cardiovascular health and the immune system, and build bones. Its biggest health benefit, of course, is that it can help prevent cancer. Broccoli has properties that alleviate all the problems related to cancer: inadequate detoxification, chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Research shows these three factors combine to heighten the incidence of cancer.
Colour me green: Broccoli, avocado and tomatoes mixed in mustard mayo make for an exciting salad.
It doesn’t make much sense trying to suggest fancy ways of cooking broccoli, because the one fundamental rule about broccoli is: Avoid cooking it. The idea is to keep the vegetable as fresh and crunchy as possible, as cooking techniques that soften it also take away its nutrients. Boiling reduces the levels of anti-cancer compounds; it’s best to either steam, microwave, stir-fry or simply eat it raw. Steaming broccoli for 3-4 minutes is recommended to maximize the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane. Popular broccoli dishes can be cheesy bakes and stews, but what we’re offering is a delightfully fresh broccoli, tomato and avocado salad that’ll allow you to consume the vegetable in all its crunchy goodness.
The chemical indole-3-carbinol boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells
It contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and small amounts of selenium. It also contains the compound glucoraphanin, which can be processed into the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane
A single serving provides more than 30mg of vitamin C and a half-cup provides 52mg of vitamin C
It contains a flavonoid called kaempferol which is known to reduce the impact of allergy-related substances on our bodies. This explains the unique anti-inflammatory benefits of broccoli
The fibre benefits the body’s detoxification system
EAT IT THIS WAY
Avocado, broccoli, tomato in light mustard mayonnaise
• 350g broccoli florets
• 1 large ripe avocado
• 150g tomato, peeled and diced
• 10 caper buds
• 20g mustard paste
• 100g mayonnaise
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 100ml extra virgin olive oil
Blanch the broccoli florets in hot water for 3-4 minutes and refresh in chilled ice water to retain the colour. Peel the avocado, remove the nut and cut half into dices and half into slices. In a bowl put the broccoli, diced avocado, capers, diced tomato, salt and pepper. Toss well. In a separate bowl mix mayonnaise, olive oil and mustard paste to a homogenous mixture. Add the tossed vegetables in the mustard mayonnaise dressing gently without smashing the avocado. Chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and serve.
Source: Ravi Saxena, corporate chef, The Claridges Hotels and Resorts.