January 23, 2009

Raw Broccoli: Crabby Draws the Line

Cartoon by Natalie Dee

I may have mentioned before that I'm one of those crackpots who will often heed the results of the health studies I read.

For example, years ago I read that red bell peppers have more nutrients than green ones, and blue potatoes have more than white ones. So I will actually go out of my way to buy blue potatoes and red bell peppers.

I know full well that often these studies are followed up by newer studies that say the opposite. But when I'm not tearing my hair out cursing all the conflicting studies, I tend to remember the last thing I read, and if possible, I do what it says.

On the other hand, sometimes when I don't like the results, I pretend I never even read the study.

Like when I read that you shouldn't put milk in your tea or you won't get any of the antioxidant benefits. I tried tea without milk, didn't like it, and so I said "Feh! I'll drink it the way I like it!" (Actually, I'm guessing I used a different word than "feh," but I bet it also started with an "f".) And while the jury is still out on the whole issue, at least one tea with milk study came along and said--nah, it's ok--go ahead and add milk if you like.

So what's the latest study I plan to ignore?

One that says raw broccoli delivers ten times more of the anti-carcinogen sulforaphane than cooked broccoli.

Which is great news for all you folks who like it raw!

But I hate raw broccoli and don't mind it cooked. More specifically, I like it best if it's overcooked, and combined with other tasty ingredients like olive oil or garlic or cheese.

(And yes, there was indeed an earlier study that said the opposite: that cooking broccoli increased antioxidants. But alas, there's a difference between how much of the good stuff is in the food, and how much actually ends up in your bloodstream, so that's part of the reason the studies go back and forth. Am I ridiculously obsessed with stupid unpredictable antioxidants that keep changing their minds? Yep, apparently so!)

Anyway, as much as I like the idea of all that virtuous sulforaphane being ready and available in raw broccoli, I'm still going to cook the hell out of it. Of course, I could just eat TEN TIMES AS MUCH broccoli as I used to in order to make up for the fact that I cook it, but I think I'd rather say "screw it" and croak a decade or so earlier.

Oh wait. Wasn't I just saying the other day about how I'm feeling all inspired to be more positive on the blog from now on, and not quite so Cranky?


Well, um...

Hang on, I'm thinking...

Got it!!

(If this blog had a soundtrack, harp music would now be playing...)

Broccoli may have been the vegetable they studied, but it isn't the only one that has sulforaphane in it, right? There's cabbage and cauliflower and some other ones too. I bet they're also pretty powerful cancer fighters if eaten raw.

Raw cabbage... that's coleslaw! And raw cauliflower.... that's not so bad! Especially if you dip it in something yummy. (At the moment, let's ignore the fact that most yummy dips are full of saturated fats or the wrong omega's or whatever.)

So until the scientists change their minds again, I'll skip the raw broccoli, but please pass the raw cauliflower and dip. And I'll take a side order of coleslaw!

(Anyone placing bets on how long this whole "have a more positive attitude" thing is gonna last?)

Does anyone else read about health research only to ignore the findings they don't like? Anything in particular you're ignoring at the moment?


  1. Oh my! I totally do that. I'm like, "no milk in my tea?" PUNT that article right outta there!

    I really think that the positivity thing is working for ya Crabby!

    Have a great weekend!

  2. And study that tells me that I can't have milk in my tea just HAS to be wrong.

    In fact, any researcher who would even question the necessity of milk in tea just has to be misguided anyway.

    So there.

    (I think I'm working on "defiant" rather than "positive" this morning.)

  3. Have you ever tried the bags of premade broccoli slaw? (Like regular slaw but with broccoli instead of cabbage.) I bet you'd like it raw; you can't even tell that it's broccoli.

    As far as conflicting info, I'm the same way with studies about coffee. I toast the positive ones with a shot of espresso, while the negative ones get nothing but scorn for being a pile of poorly researched crap.

  4. I seem to remember a study done on the killer sugar substitute saccharin and the end of the world as we know it. The study (gave cancer to rats) was pumped to the world and almost put the company Sweet n Low out of business. Later, when no one was really listening, the real story came out about giving the test rats 1000 times the amount any human would ingest in a lifetime. Been very skeptical of "research studies" ever since.

  5. Hell yes, the Bag Lady has been ignoring the studies she doesn't like for years! Especially the ones about booze and cigarettes being bad for you! *cough* How can they say that? *cough* Sheesh.

  6. Naw, sometimes I just man up and eat the %^(#$% broccoli!

    Like you guys, I take most studies with as little salt as possible :-)

  7. I ignore any and all studies. I prefer to live in blissful ignorance.

    PS. I actually HAVE those smiley face stickers!!!

  8. Oh yes...Ignore, scoff at, generally disparage...

    On the other hand I once read a Question/Answer thing somewhere in which the question was asked whether putting butter on cooked vegetables would be bad. I forget the actual wording of the question and the answer, but I remember the gist was: you are better off eating your veggies with butter than not at all.

    I like the happy medium approach. As long as you are eating your broccoli, I don't think it matters whether it's cooked or raw.

  9. I just don't pay a lot of attention to studies. They conflict each other so much it's ridiculous. I prefer the common sense approach. I know veggies are good for you and that chocolate and wine are ok in moderation and I don't stress over whether I should be eating it raw or cooked. Sometimes I like it raw and sometimes I like it cooked and sometimes I like it cooked with lots of cheese melted on top. All that cheese may actually not be great for me but if I'm otherwise fairly balanced in my diet then who cares? You seem like you have a pretty good balance in your diet and you exercise regularly, which is more than I can say, so I think you'll be alright if you cook the feck out of your broccoli. That's my $.2. :-)

  10. I have been eating raw broccoli for years, but the truth is I despise it. Despise. Cooked, fine. I am going to follow your not-too-crabby lead and just quit doing it. Bring on the cauliflower!

  11. I am ingoring that you dislike my favourite food in the whole wide world...

    But I will gladly pass you the cauliflower.

  12. I tend to ignore studies and go with "vegetables and fruits = good".

    I'm also neutral on the milk in tea issue: I take it with and without milk (as I discovered when a then-boyfriends sweet grandmother made me tea and no milk and I just met her and didn't want to seem rude).

  13. Raw broccoli is good for you?
    Yeah! I have broccoslaw for lunch.
    Some studies make me shake my head...like how green tea loses it's antioxidants if you make it with boiling water...I thought, but that's how you make tea isn't it? Antioxidants are great, but it's not like if we don't get as much of them as humanly possible we'll die a terrible agonising death...I just try to eat some.

  14. It's a sobering statistic that one out of one dies. If you are moderate in your food intake, exercise, and take reasonable precautions, when you do go you can go without regret that you did yourself in knowingly.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  15. I read a lot of studies and change what I do in response to each one. It's a mad house here.

  16. I remember the pepper study--that's one I've been ignoring ever since, because I don't like the red peppers (too sweet! not enough bite!) and I only eat them in other people's cooking.

    Crabby, I'll eat all your broccoli and you can have all my cauliflower. I love broccoli, and don't like to eat it raw because it has less broccoli taste that way. (I don't eat any raw vegetables now, because my father has five or six teeth left, and his doctor and his dentist have been arguing for years about to pull or not to pull.)

    If a study comes out saying something I like is good for you in some way (coffee! chocolate!) I'll eat more of it; all other studies get ignored.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  17. I don't listen to ANY of it. Unless it's going to make me fat, it's going in my mouth.

    I love raw vegetables but they don't love me (or my bottom...ewww...)

    TA x

  18. I'm ignoring a study that says you should have "150 calories of something sweet" to keep your cravings at bay. 150 calories is not nearly enough candy and isn't even 1/2 a piece of dessert.

  19. Yes! I selectively remember and give creedence to the studies that reinforce stuff I like to do/eat, mysteriously forgetting the rest.

    I shoot for variety mainly. And economy to a certain extent. So I'll get say, 3 green peppers for every colored pepper because the green are less expensive but the other colors add the "rainbow" effect.

    I absolutely luuurve raw broccoli. I love the different sizes of flowerets (I even love the word floweret). I love to break them apart into smaller trees and dip them. Or to just have a really big one. I love how they suck up lots of what you dip them in. So you can dip into a thin vinaigrette or salsa and still get plenty of it while it would just slide sadly off a carrot, pepper, or tomato. I love it with hummus, that new Tosititos Creamy Salsa and every kind of dressing. I also love this one recipe from NY Times with roasted garlic, cumin, and crushed red pepper tossed with oil, vineger, and raw broccoli. I make it every month or so.

    It's funny how raw broc sends me into raptures but others are just like, "Meh." :) I will definitely be committing the Raw-Broccoli-Rocks study to memory!

  20. I heart broccoli slaw on top of my salad as it's so fresh and crunchy! YUM!

    I read studies but I tend not to shift my entire thinking on them. I figure if it's something I already like, bonus, if I've never done it before or whatever I will probably give it a shot.

  21. Broccoli is great! (When other people eat it.)

  22. Ugg, raw broccoli. Yuck, not even saturated fat makes it palatable. I'm ignoring any studies about cauliflower and peppers, too. Double yuck.

    I'm with R and dragonmamma, all happy when I find one I like and ignore the ones that just aren't groovy with my taste buds.

  23. Heh, I *love* reading up on health studies. I'm an avid reader of Self and Woman's Health both of which are forever cover the latest health studies. And yes, 9 times out of 10 I ignore everything they say.

    Purple foods better for you than Green ones? Prunes better than Plums? Meh. As long as what I'm eating is tasty and mostly healthy, my attitude is, at least I'm not eating cheese-its.


  24. I pay especial attention to any study that says wine or chocolate is good for you.

    As far as fruit and veg goes, I figure any type, raw or cooked, is better than none, so I don't worry about it.

    Here in the UK there is a particular prepacked salad bag which includes thin batons of brocolli stalk in with lettuce and raw carrot, you can't taste it separately, it just tastes of "salad" so I am happy to eat that. I wouldn't eat a raw brocolli tree on its own though.

  25. I just pay no attention. Been jerked around by stupid studies for too long. I have enough trouble getting enough veggies without obsessing over what they look like.

    Raw broccoli is okay if you put enough onion dip on it. Or chop it up really small for salads (florets are too big--you're happily crunching along and then you have to eat a whomping big piece of broccoli...:-||). It's even better in salads if you steam it just a little and it looks really pretty.

  26. I like broccoli, but once I found (live) bugs in some of it, so now I refuse to buy it fresh. If someone else has bought it and cut it up and its out on a plate I'll gladly eat it raw- but I can't bring myself to buy it. Isn't that funny?

    I liked raw but not cooked spinach for the longest time so I ignored the research that told me cooked spinach is a zillion times better for you. Now I sometimes like it cooked. I feel so virtuous. Haha.

  27. Blue potatoes? Huh?
    I ignore anything I don't want to hear because I know the next study will reverse the findings. So there!

  28. I have the same issues with research. Although at the moment I'm on doctors orders to NOT eat raw broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts or cauliflower as they are all "goitrogens" and can cause problems with your thyroid unless you cook out the problem stuff. So, you know, add that to your pool of conflicting, arbitrary and useless knowledge;)

  29. Oh, I LOVE raw broccoli. But I do NOT love the incredible stomachache that lasts for hours afterward.

    (Stomachache. Stomachache. It doesn't even look like a word, suddenly. STOMACHACHE. Wait, what? Oh! A COMMENT! Right.)

    But I pretty much ignore the studies. I figure that if my options (in this case) are to eat cooked broccoli or to eat NO broccoli, cooked is probably better. *nods head for emphasis*

  30. Hey, Charlotte, I didn't know that. I have a few thyroid problems, so I shall definitely file that away for future knowledge. Thanks!

  31. LOL. That was great. I'm big on ignoring anything negative about coffee.

  32. I don't much like raw broccoli myself. But then, I don't like the really soft ones either...I cook them until they just turn bright green and are still crunchy. So does that mean that I only have to eat five times as much?

    I reheated some cauliflower and leek soup today at work and apparently a bunch of people were asking what the funky smell was in the kitchen. Whoops.

  33. i try to eat it raw but prefer it cooked. If I'm going to eat it raw, I need something to dip....salsa does the trick when I need some spice in my day!

  34. Sure I like raw broccoli- dipped in full-fat dressing! I go with the philosphy that as long as it's not covered in butter/dressing/oil, it's better than the french fries I'd rather be eating!

  35. I don't like raw broccoli either. I've read that all vegetables are more healthy for you raw, but I don't follow it. :)

  36. "I'm on doctors orders to NOT eat raw broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts or cauliflower as they are all "goitrogens" and can cause problems with your thyroid unless you cook out the problem stuff."

    Thank you, Charlotte! Justification! Now I have more to point to than mere preference (not that preference isn't enough for me.) I've been a thyroid patient for more than forty years.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  37. NO milk in my tea - are you kidding, whoever found that must surely have been on drugs! Listen Crabby if you get too positive and too uncrabby, you'd probably just become another boring blogger... nah, don't do that to us!

    I ignore all kinds of studies... in favour of ones that say what I already believe!

  38. Oh, are there studies out there that tell you what to eat?

    I am getting better at actually eating veggies, so I am pretty much at the stage where, hey, at least it isn't fries! I confess though to liking my veggies raw more so than cooked.

  39. It's why I always stress the importance of replicability to my students. Let me rephrase, replication of results by different researchers!

    Even though I'm a researcher, it always amazes me that there can be such different results. Really, some of us are still working on eating veggies, so I figure if I get the recommended amount then it won't matter how it gets there! Besides, like you said, there are other ways to get it all in.

  40. usually if i don't like something i'll just throw it into a salad. I put so many different VEGETABLES (i hate the word 'veggie' urrrr.. those vegetables deserve respect!!!) that the stronger tastes usually over power all the weird tasting stuff.

    There really isn't any vegetable that i hate, but there are some that taste a little too funky for me, but i'll eat them anyways if it's with something else, or dipped in italian dressing. I just discovered radishes as being a weird taste and i'm not too keen on celery either (for some reason it makes my mouth go numb if i eat too much of it, maybe i'm just eating it wrong, hehe!)

    and i've never put milk in my tee, i rather have some poisonous fake sugar, thank you very much, hahaha!

    With the all knowing "studies" i usually just pride myself if i already do what they say is good for you, like how you should drink tap water because of the fluoride! yay, i do that! and if i'm doing what they say is bad for me i cut down on it, but usually that only lasts until another study comes out disproving that won!

  41. I'm currently ignoring the study that said women are less able to say no to food than men. Haven't seen the study itself; just read the headlines. But I gotta think there are some problems with it.

    As to overcooked broccoli w/ garlic and cheese, you got my number!

  42. I recently had what I considered a rather unfortunate cooking mishap with broccoli - I cooked the hell out of it on accident, leaving it steaming (with the heat off, eventually) for about an hour.

    It was like a broccoli shaped blob by the time I realized my mistake - it had the shape and color of steamed broccoli, but I could barely get it onto the plate without it "melting". The irony? My kids LOVED it.

    If you want to cook the hell out of your broccoli and are worried about the antioxidants, have a handful of blueberries and say "feh" yeah. :)

  43. "Sometimes when I don't like the results, I pretend I never even read the study." LOL LOL I often build my food plans on denial!! LOve it. And i'm with you on raw broccoli - it needs something (i.e. lots of things) to make it good... even raw i'd have to drown it in ranch dressing and I highly doubt that's what the researchers had in mind! hehe

  44. Raw broccoli I can do . . . limiting coffee, when they come around to this one (as they usually do) no way! I also like to add stuff to my studies. You know, red wine is good for you if you have one class, so I have three, because then it is three times as good for you!

  45. Thank the food Gods that folks finally can come out and say it's now ok to admit that I despise raw broccoli. Remember what happened poor ol' Bush Sr when he confessed? But why do I continue to add a floweret or two of the stuff everytime I'm at the salad bar? Yuck yuck yuck. Never again.

    They haven't said we can't have milk in our coffee, have they?

  46. Hi Cranky,
    Hilarious post! I've lost weight and improved my health astronomically by switching to a whole foods, plant-based diet. I've read all the compelling studies that I can do even better with a raw foods plant-based diet, but I can't do it. Not even for one day! I'm glad I'm not alone for being selective about what I do when it comes to my health.

  47. If that is what being healthy means. I'll have a creamy bun and larger please

  48. I love raw broccoli with little olive oil, italian seasoning and crushed red pepper- that what I have as an afternoon snack- yummy!


Thanks for commenting, Cranky Fitness readers are the BEST!

Subscribe to comments via RSS

(Note: Older Comment Threads Are Moderated)