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Broccoli Powder: Benefits, Uses and Where to Buy


Broccoli Powder

Increasingly popular among health-conscious foodies, broccoli powder is made by grinding freeze-dried or air-dried broccoli florets into a nutrient-dense green powder that looks a lot like matcha or moringa powder. Whether made from organic or non-organic broccoli florets, freeze-dried broccoli powder is a concentrated source of vitamin C, vitamin K and fiber, and it contains high levels of glucoraphanin, a phytochemical that can be converted into cancer-fighting sulforaphane.

In this article, we'll explore the nutritional profile and potential health benefits of broccoli powder in more detail. We'll also provide some tips on how to use broccoli powder and where to buy pure, freeze-dried broccoli powder, in case you cannot find in your local health food store.


Nutrition Facts

Fresh broccoli is about 90 percent water and an excellent source of vitamins C and K, according to nutrition data published by the USDA (1). When broccoli florets are dried to make powder, most of the water is removed. This concentrates what's left, jamming more calories and air-resistant nutrients into a smaller space. Especially freeze-dried broccoli powder is a concentrated source of vitamins C and K because even the more sensitive nutrients, such as vitamin C, are not easily destroyed when foods are freeze-dried. Air drying, by contrast, can cause a significant loss of nutrients like vitamin C. (2, 3)

Vitamin C is perhaps best known for its antioxidant properties, but it also stimulates collagen synthesis, enhances iron absorption and plays a role in the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. Vitamin K, on the other hand, is thought to be good for your cardiovascular system because it helps direct calcium into the bones, thereby reducing the risk of calcium build-up in blood vessels.

Broccoli also contains a fairly good amount of dietary fiber, most of which is insoluble fiber, the type that promotes bowel regularity and helps prevent constipation (4, 5). When fresh broccoli is dehydrated and ground into a green superfood powder, all the fiber it contains is crammed into a small space, making broccoli powder an extremely concentrated source of fiber.

However, the recommended serving size of pure broccoli powder is typically between 1 and 3 teaspoons, which is equivalent to eating less than a cup of fresh broccoli, so the contribution of broccoli powder to the recommended daily intake of fiber should not be exaggerated.

It is also worth noting that some companies dehydrate broccoli juice to make broccoli juice powder which, unlike whole broccoli powder, contains hardly any fiber.


Sulforaphane Content

Some Brassica vegetables, such as broccoli and kale, are rich in a glucosinolate called glucoraphanin. While glucoraphanin itself is relatively inert, an enzyme called myrosinase can convert glucoraphanin into sulforaphane which has been extensively researched for its potential anti-cancer effects.

A growing body of evidence suggests that sulforaphane may help prevent cancer by inducing phase II enzymes which are involved in the elimination of mutagens; by triggering apoptosis (self-destruction of cancerous cells); by inducing cell cycle arrest; and by inhibiting NF-κB, a protein complex that is thought to play a major role in the initiation, development and spread of cancer within the body. (6, 7).

Freeze-drying does not destroy myrosinase, and research suggests that freeze-dried broccoli powder is an excellent source of sulforaphane, provided that the broccoli is not exposed to high temperatures at any point during the production process (8). Unlike low temperatures, high temperatures can destroy myrosinase, and in vivo studies comparing the effects of raw vs cooked broccoli confirm that cooked broccoli provides significantly less sulforaphane than its raw counterpart (9).


Organic vs Non-Organic Broccoli Powder

When it comes to green superfood powders, people often think organic is better and more pure. While that may be true for kale powder and spinach powder, which are made from vegetables that are known to contain relatively high levels of pesticides when conventionally-grown, it doesn't seem to hold true for broccoli.

In fact, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has included broccoli in its Clean Fifteen list of produce which includes vegetables and fruits that contain few pesticides and low concentrations of pesticide residues (10).

What's more, a study that analyzed the vitamin C content of organic vs non-organic broccoli concluded that organic broccoli did not contain significantly more vitamin C than its conventionally-grown counterpart (11). Similarly, a study that compared the content of the sulforaphane precursor glucoraphanin in samples of freeze-dried broccoli found no significant differences between the organic and non-organic samples. However, organic broccoli was found to contain higher levels of glucobrassicin, another type glucosinolate (12).


6 Ways to Use Broccoli Powder

There's no shortage of wonderful ways to cook and eat broccoli, whether you are using fresh or frozen broccoli. Even the tough broccoli stems can be used to create tasty and filling dishes.

Also broccoli powder is a versatile ingredient, and there are tons of different ways to incorporate this nutrient-dense powder into your diet. Here are 6 ideas on how to use broccoli powder:

  1. In smoothie recipes, you can use broccoli powder as a substitute for kale or spinach powder, or almost any other green superfood powder. Just don't exceed the recommended daily dosage printed on the package.
  2. You can also add broccoli powder to soups and sauces. To protect the heat-sensitive nutrients it contains, it is best to add it towards the end of the cooking process. This also helps protect myrosinase, the enzyme that converts glucosinolates into sulforaphane.
  3. Yet another great way to incorporate some nutrient-dense broccoli powder into your diet is to mix a small amount into dips and salad dressings.
  4. Add broccoli powder to homemade pesto. Basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic and olive oil may be the classic pesto ingredients, but incorporating broccoli powder into your pesto can add a nice twist to this classic recipe.
  5. Follow the trend started by an Australian café and stir a small amount of broccoli powder into a cup of coffee to boost its nutritional value!
  6. Use broccoli powder to add color and a boost of nutrients to egg-based dishes such as omelettes and scrambled eggs. Simply add a spoonful of broccoli powder to the egg mixture before cooking it on a frying pan.
  7. If you like to make pasta from scratch, try making healthier homemade pasta by incorporating some broccoli powder into the pasta dough.

Where to Buy Pure, Freeze-Dried Broccoli Powder?

Can't wait to start using broccoli powder to add more nutrients and health-protecting sulforaphane to your diet? If the health food stores near you don't carry broccoli powder, not to worry – you can always buy it online! The online retailer Amazon, for example, sells several brands of broccoli powder. If you can't decide which one to pick, try this one – it contains pure, certified organic broccoli powder and nothing else (no preservatives, fillers or other additives), and the florets have been freeze-dried to maximize their nutritional value.


References

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28
  2. S. Roshanak et al (2016). Evaluation of seven different drying treatments in respect to total flavonoid, phenolic, vitamin C content, chlorophyll, antioxidant activity and color of green tea (Camellia sinensis or C. assamica) leaves. Journal of Food Sciece and Technology, 53(1), 721-729.
  3. D. Asami et al (2003). Comparison of the Total Phenolic and Ascorbic Acid Content of Freeze-Dried and Air-Dried Marionberry, Strawberry, and Corn Grown Using Conventional, Organic, and Sustainable Agricultural Practices. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 51, 1237-1241.
  4. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2018). The Nutrition Source: Fiber. Last accessed: November 2018.
  5. B. Li et al (2002). Individual Sugars, Soluble, and Insoluble Dietary Fiber Contents of 70 High Consumption Foods. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 15(6), 715-723.
  6. S. Tortorealla et al (2015). Dietary Sulforaphane in Cancer Chemoprevention: The Role of Epigenetic Regulation and HDAC Inhibition. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, 22(16).
  7. Y. Xia et al (2015). NF-κB, an active player in human cancers. Cancer Immunology Research, 2(9): 823-830.
  8. G. Bricker (2012). Thermally Processing Broccoli Sprouts Impacts the Metabolism of Bioactive Isothiocyanates in Mice. Ohio State University
  9. Vermeulen et al (2008). Bioavailability and kinetics of sulforaphane in humans after consumption of cooked versus raw broccoli. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 56(22):10505-9.
  10. Environmental Working Group (2018). EWG's 2018 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
  11. Wunderlich et al (2008). Nutritional quality of organic, conventional, and seasonally grown broccoli using vitamin C as a marker. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 59(1), 34-45.
  12. M. Meyer and S. Adam (2008). Comparison of glucosinolate levels in commercial broccoli and red cabbage from conventional and ecological farming. European Food Research and Technology, 226(6), 1429-1437.