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Building Better Broccoli

Building Better BroccoliJust when you thought broccoli couldn’t get any better for you, here comes Beneforté.

With a marketing effort that plays up its concentrated phytonutrient content, Beneforté broccoli was developed by scientists who crossbred traditional British broccoli with wild Sicilian broccoli.

The result is a broccoli that has just as much vitamins C, A, and fiber as regular broccoli, but with 2-3 times the amount of glucoraphanin.

What, exactly, is glucoraphanin?

Glucoraphanin is a phytonutrient, it is a glucosinolate that converts to sulforaphane, another phytonutrient that may help produce enzymes that detoxify carcinogens and stop other enzymes that activate carcinogens.

According to the website of Beneforté, which is owned by Monsanto, Beneforté has about 2.5 times as much glucoraphanin as conventional broccoli, and 10 times the amount in cabbage.

Despite its higher glucoraphanin content, it is important to keep in mind that fruits, vegetables, and the health benefits they convey are a sum of their parts. Slightly higher levels of a particular phytonutrient do not ensure a products’ ability to fight cancer. It is more likely that the harmonious interplay of the numerous nutrients and compounds in fruits and vegetables are what yield beneficial health effects.

All cruciferous vegetables in the Brassicacae family – like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and bok choy – are rich sources of vitamin C, folate, potassium, vitamin K, beta carotene, and potassium.

Beneforté might have more glucoraphanin, but whether or not that really plays a role in preventing cancer in humans, remains to be seen.

A few other drawbacks of this enhanced broccoli product:

  • The product is not organic – it is not genetically engineered, but it is not organic
  • Pre-packaging almost always increases price – buying fresh produce that has not been packaged gets you more bang for your buck
  • No established health problems have been linked to low levels of glucoraphanin, so who is to say that more of it is better?
  • Broccoli by itself is perfectly nutritious – there are certainly better parts of the typical diet that need improvement more than broccoli does!

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