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Broccoli: 3 Ways to get the Benefits without the Symptoms

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If I had to name the top foods that come up in sessions as “fear foods” it would be the two B words- Beans & Broccoli!

Broccoli is an interesting one since we know it is one of the foods that are packed with sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is the compound we know is important for gut health, it’s antioxidant capacity and cancer prevention effects (research). Yet we also know broccoli can trigger symptoms with IBD. Even though triggering symptoms doesn’t mean it’s causing harm or inflammation (in fact it does the opposite)- symptoms and quality of life are important! So what can we do?

Here are 3 ways you can get the benefits without the symptoms:

  • Broccoli Sprouts – Did you know 1 cup of broccoli sprouts can have up 10-100x the sulforaphane found in the same amount of broccoli?! Typically broccoli sprouts are less likely to trigger symptoms as well. Broccoli sprouts are so easy to just throw on a sandwich or top soup with- so this is my top pick for bypassing the broccoli symptoms (research).
  • Cooked Frozen Broccoli – Frozen broccoli has been pre-cooked so it’s usually pretty broken down already and less likely to be a trigger. I like to heat it up, cut it into smaller pieces and put it in some vegetable broth. I made a “cheesy” broccoli by adding a little soy milk and miyoko’s cashew cheese- I usually go for the sharp english cheddar because it’s one of a few miyoko’s products that doesn’t have coconut oils added. If you don’t like it or it’s not in your budget- you could also just add some nutritional yeast and lemon! You can even add rice to make it more of a broccoli & cheese casserole.
  • Blending Cooked Broccoli – If you are in a flare up but want to get the benefits of broccoli or cauliflower – I’ll usually suggest starting with small amounts and blending into something you are already eating like soup or mashed potatoes. Remember “go low and slow” with trigger foods. A small amount of something can really go a long way! This is our best tip for how to expand the diet overtime.

When it’s more than a trigger

I want to also note- for some broccoli can be more than a trigger food. For some it’s what we can a “trauma food” – a food that might have been a part of the story with stricturing or obstruction. If this is the case, you may want to work with someone who is IBD trained and informed with how to deal with the trauma side of IBD. If this is you, please reach out. We would love to work with you or help you find someone to work with! We know fiber is important for IBD – including those with stricturing disease. However, it’s not as simple as just having it. Sometimes you’ll need to work with someone for a time to learn strategies specific to you!