Here’s a little-known fact: If you crush garlic and chop broccoli and then let them rest before you cook them, you significantly increase their power to fight cancer and heart disease. Crushing or chopping garlic and letting it sit a few minutes releases antiplatelet enzymes that help prevent coronary artery blockages. But whole garlic cloves, once they’ve been cooked, offer no heart benefit at all. Neither does garlic that’s been microwaved.
A similar phenomenon occurs with broccoli. Studies show that chopping it up, then letting it sit for forty minutes before cooking, releases the cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane, which would otherwise have been destroyed by cooking.
Using precut, frozen raw broccoli is just as beneficial. Of course, eating garlic or broccoli raw is the best way to get all the nutrients intact, but raw garlic and broccoli aren’t appetizing to everyone. Better to eat a lot, deliciously cooked, than little or none raw. This underscores the importance of properly preparing your veggies before eating them. Boiling vegetables is almost always a bad idea. Most of the nutrients are leached out into the water that you pour down the drain. Let’s run down a few more ground rules:
1. Always wash nonorganic produce thoroughly to rinse away as much pesticide as possible. Friction helps remove contaminants from the surface of your produce, so don’t just rinse them. Rub them. You can use a vegetable brush. Some suggest washing in a dilute solution of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. You can be less fastidious with organic.
2. Frozen vegetables are about as nutritious as fresh, and in some cases even more so. That’s especially true if they were flash frozen right after picking, which locks in the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, preventing them from degrading over time. 17 They are also cheaper.
3. The best way to cook most vegetables is to steam them for no more than 4 minutes. They should still be bright and crunchy