Is Broccoli Good For Cancer Patients?

11th October 2017, Dietitian Marcus Lee, Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital

Cruciferous vegetables are a diverse group of plant that includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and many more. Most cruciferous vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals such as folate, vitamin K, and fiber. Dark green cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are also an excellent source of vitamins A and C.

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in phytochemicals or phytonutrients. Phytochemicals generally are regarded as research compounds rather than essential nutrients because scientific evidence of their possible health effects has not been established yet.  Phytonutrients are plant-based compounds that may help to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Consumption of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower has been associated with a decreased risk of some cancers. Phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables, especially sulforaphane in broccoli, which has been studied extensively, are believed to offer some degree of prevention of cancer.

However, therapeutic use of foods rich in phytochemicals for cancer patients have not been recommended yet. Broccoli, like other vegetables and fruits, is lack of protein and vitamin B12.

Cancer patients who are undergoing treatment, usually need more protein and energy than healthy people. After surgery, during chemotherapy and radiotherapy, extra protein is needed to heal tissues and to reduce the risk of infection. Insufficient intake of protein and energy may lead to involuntary weight loss and reduce the efficacy of treatment.

If you are having difficulty in chewing or swallowing, you may consider blenderizing your foods to stay well-nourished.
For instance, if you like to have broccoli in your meal, you can try this recipe:

Broccoli Cream Soup with Onions

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green onion
  • 500 gram broccoli florets
  • 2 cups canned chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 cup full cream milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)

Method:

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions; cook and stir 4 minutes or until translucent.
  3. Add broccoli and chicken broth; bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until broccoli is tender.
  5. Process mixture in food processor or blender until smooth.
  6. Return mixture to saucepan; heat over medium heat.
  7. Whisk in cream cheese until melted.

Looks like your mum was right, eat your broccoli!