Broccoli is Good for You

Genesis 1:12

“And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”

“Eat up your broccoli. It’s good for you.” This must be the eternal cry of parents everywhere as they try to persuade their children to eat the stuff. I always felt I had an excuse as my mother seemed to boil these vegetables for at least three hours until they were a soft green mess. But our mothers may have unwittingly had a point. Recent research has suggested that a chemical in broccoli may help prevent cancer.

The growth of tumors is usually inhibited by a gene called PTEN. However, this gene frequently mutates, losing its “trigger” mechanism. Researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center discovered that a simple chemical could reignite these triggers and that such a chemical could be found in broccoli. The miracle compound is called indole-3-carbinol (I3C). But the researchers warn not to binge on broccoli yet. You could require six pounds of the stuff – and boiling can destroy I3C, so the broccoli has to be eaten raw. Nevertheless, there could be routes towards extraction or synthesis of I3C.

It should not surprise us that God has designed plants in such a way that they contain compounds which are of help to us. What would be more surprising is how the production of such a useful compound could evolve by random processes.

Yet, broccoli still tastes foul to me. Fortunately, the compound is found in all the cultivated relatives of broccoli – such as sprouts, kale, cauliflower and cabbage.