Ensuring Broccoli Sprouts Retain Their Cancer-Fighting Compounds; Chicory is Newest Hot Item




By ACS / Friedrich Schiller University Jena

brusselRaw broccoli sprouts, a rich source of potential cancer-fighting compounds, have become a popular health food in recent years. But conventional heat treatment used to kill bacteria on produce can reduce levels of the broccoli sprouts’ helpful phytochemicals. Now researchers report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that high-pressure processing could wipe out harmful bacteria while maintaining high concentrations of its health-promoting ingredients.

Research has found broccoli sprouts contain anywhere from 10 to 100 times more glucosinolates than their mature counterparts. Glucosinolates are the main compounds in broccoli and sprouts that are transformed into isothiocyanates when chopped or chewed. Studies suggest isothiocyanates have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity. To help prevent bacterial contamination, the sprouts can be heated, but high temperatures can affect the conversion of glucosinolates to isothiocyanates. So Volker Bohm and colleagues wanted to explore an alternative method for getting rid of broccoli sprouts’ microbial contamination.

The researchers treated sprouts with high pressure, a method that is sometimes used to ensure the safety of seeds, fruits and vegetables while preserving heat-sensitive nutrients. Results showed that processing broccoli sprouts at 400 to 600 megapascals increased the amount of glucosinolates that turned into isothiocyanates. Up to 85 percent of glucosinolates were converted under high-pressure processing, boosting the plants’ potential health-promoting compounds. The rate of conversion for mild heat treatment at 60 degrees Celsius was 69 percent. Isothiocyanate content in boiled samples were undetectable or not quantifiable. Thus, the researchers say high pressure could be a preferred method over heating for processing broccoli sprouts.

Funding was provided by Ohio State University for the research.



By Amiel Stanick, Bon Apetit

A crisp, leafy salad is a miraculous thing: It lends satisfying bulk to a light meal and bright balance to a heavy one. It seems like just yesterday chefs of every stripe were obsessing over alt-Caesars, crunchy piles of Little Gem, and reinvented wedges. But this year it’s definitely a family of hardy, pleasantly bitter, multihued lettuces that are having their moment in the salad spotlight. Some varieties, like escarole and radicchio, feel familiar; others, like boutiquey speckled Castelfranco and finger-spindly Tardivo, look fantastically exotic.

One of the biggest selling points of chicories is their hardiness.  They taste sturdy, they feel sturdy, meaning you can treat them aggressively, says chef Jake Nemmers of Flora Bar in NYC.  They want lots of salt and acid and fat.  They are dying to be seasoned.   Not only does that mean that chicories play nice with more intense salad elements such as salty cheese, nuts, and fruit, but also that they’ll hold up over the course of a long, lazy meal much better than more delicate lettuces.

Deliciousness aside, chicories are also a win visually, an Instagram-age slam dunk.   “They’re just so beautiful,” J.J. Proville, chef of Seattle’s Our Sin.  Whether you’re a chef or a home cook, a chicory salad with all those incredible hues of purple and white and green is going to impress.  It’s a lot more interesting than iceberg.   Proville recommends mixing up different varieties for maximum visual and textural impact.