Ask women’s cancer researchers to identify the one vegetable that they might recommend to specifically prevent breast cancer in post-menopausal women and it may well be broccoli or broccolini. I call it the ‘Queen of the Crucifer’s’.
It’s difficult to overestimate broccoli’s healing powers (or broccolini), but this crisp, delicious member of the cruciferous family has been shown to fend off a host of serious conditions, including heart disease and cancer. If you can get organic, then this is best.
Numerous researchers now know that the more oestrogen you are exposed to during your lifetime, the greater your risk of breast cancer. They also know that the best protection is food that brings your body back into its proper hormonal balance and which blocks the harmful effects of too much oestrogen.
I wish I knew about this when trying to understand why my breasts became large and lumpy in my early 50s, because I would have made an effort to add cooked broccoli to my day.
Broccoli’s impressive power as a cancer fighter is due in part to its attack on two fronts. It contains two compounds, – indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane – that help to mop-up cancer causing substances from the liver, before they have a chance to do harm.
Indole-3-carbinol is also found in other cruciferous vegies, such as cabbage and brussel sprouts and is particularly effective against breast cancer. You may have heard about DIM, or it may also be in those menopause supplements you might be taking for oestrogen dominance. DIM (diindolylmethane) is a byproduct of Indole-3-carbinol.
Sulforaphane also does good work to keep us healthy as we age. It is a compound known to protect us by boosting the production of cancer-blocking enzymes.
But there’s more to the brilliance of broccoli that I want you to know about if you are struggling with your symptoms and weight during menopause.
Although evidence has been mounting that broccoli is great for cancer prevention, for women in menopause and post-menopause, equal evidence suggests that the nutrients in broccoli help to protect against heart disease.
I’m always passionate about this aspect of our health as we move through menopause, because in the Western world, incidence of heart disease in post-menopausal women rates higher than breast cancer. That’s why, despite the focus on sulforaphane in broccoli which helps to block cancer-producing enzymes, I also prefer broccoli for heart health. This is because it is high in beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene is a powerful nutrient that’s converted to Vitamin A and helps to prevent heart disease as well as helping to heal a lifetime of damaged cells and tissues. Very important for those of you who do lots of exercise!
Cauliflower shouldn’t miss out on the attention either. It’s full of healthy nutrients as well, but the problem with cauliflower compared to broccoli, is that it has greater amounts of purines in it. These are amino acids that break down to uric acid in the body. As any of you with sore joints and gout know, you need to be careful of your purine consumption.
Many women on the MyMT™ programmes have sore joints when they start out, so being careful about purine consumption is something that you will find in the MyMT™ nutritional information as well as in my ‘Restore your Joyful Joints’ module which is part of my programmes.
In the Kitchen with MyMT™
Marco’s Vegetarian Broccoli Burgers
The MyMT™ Food Guide is packed full with over 100 recipes – all meeting the criteria I have for providing the correct nutrients for women in their menopause nutrition. Too many recipes don’t do this, so I have sourced them from a variety of recipe books as well as from women on my programmes and from Mediterrranean Diet and evidenced Heart Health sources. This recipe is from Marco, a chef from South America who worked up in a ski-field I was visiting. I was sitting in the lodge and saw that he was Vegetarian Broccoli Burgers, so I asked him for the recipe to share with women on my programmes.
Today I’m sharing this with you, so that you get broccoli-rich foods into your life. I particularly like this recipe because the broccoli is chopped finely and cooked. If women have gut health concerns or IBS, then cruciferous vegies such as broccoli, served raw, may cause bloatin and discomfort as I used to find myself.
- Brown or Arborio Rice (1 cup, preferably organic).
- Red onion
- First cook the rice in lightly salted water or you can make a simple Rice Risotto, using arborio rice, for a different flavour.
- Chop up the following veggies very finely: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Mushrooms, Red Onions.
- Throw in a handful of sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. Add cooked chick peas if you want (or canned – rinse these first).
- Add a 1/2 teaspoon of Moroccan Seasoning, Salt and Pepper.
- Beat an egg and mix it into the mixture. Add 1 egg to about 3 cups of mixture, but ensure it isn’t too runny.
- Wet your hand ands shape the mixture into small patties and cook on a hot plate or in a hot pan/ skillet.
- Serve with salad and some hummus.