Does Burnt Broccoli Have Nutritional Value?

by Charlie
Burnt Broccoli

Broccoli overflows with huge amounts of nutrients including fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, especially those that help fight cancer.

Does burnt broccoli have nutritional value? Yes, burnt broccoli does have some nutritional value. Burnt broccoli doesn’t lose all of its nutrients, but it does lose much of them. In addition, burnt or charred broccoli can form cancer-causing chemicals. 

Roasting or sautéing broccoli on high heat to get a little char on it is fine. Interestingly, raw vegetables have some nutritional benefits that those cooked in high heat don’t and vice versa, so it’s good to work both raw broccoli and cooked broccoli into your diet.

Broccoli has tons of great properties to support health, and eating it raw or cooked but not burnt, is the best way to take full advantage of them.

What Happens When We Eat Burnt Broccoli?

You won’t die or fall seriously ill, but the nutritional value will be substantially depleted and even infiltrated by harmful chemicals that people should not consume

Such chemicals include acrylamide which has been linked to pancreatic cancer. It’s an organic compound likely to be in the burnt portion of food which was cooked at high temperature. It’s best to cook broccoli at a medium temperature to avoid burning it.

Moreover, burnt food (especially burnt vegetables and red meat) is difficult for your stomach to break down and digest, so the extra time and bodily energy required to do it normally makes someone feel uncomfortably full and/or cause irritating heartburn.   

When you eat raw broccoli, you get the maximum amount of the protein, fiber, potassium, folate, manganese, and vitamin K that this superfood has to offer and a lot of vitamins B and C too. However, cooking it changes its chemistry a little bit, but not for the worse, just different. Cooked broccoli slightly reduces the amount of vitamins B and C. 

On the flip side, when it’s cooked–boiled, roasted, microwaved, whatever–the heating of it increases release of certain nutrients from the stem’s walls that your body will easily absorb. With raw, those particular nutrients may never leave the broccoli and enter your system during the entire digestion period. 

Such additional beneficial nutrients include the following:

  • Lycopene. Known to be prominent in tomatoes and red peppers.
  • Beta-carotene. Making up most of the nutritional value in carrots and spinach.
  • Other anti-oxidant compounds. These a proven to help fight off cancer and other serious diseases.

Risks that Come with Eating Burnt Broccoli

Overcooking broccoli, or any food for that matter, changes its chemistry and nutritional make-up. Burning broccoli causes loss of its natural properties and introduces elements that can harm the human body. It is the increase in carbon dioxide that occurs with burnt food that is the main culprit. 

Carbon dioxide is toxic to people, so our bodies struggle to process it in a natural effort to protect our health, but it’s not effective enough to rid the toxins from our bodies completely. Some small amount of any poison or toxin normally makes a permanent physical imprint on us. 

If too much burnt food accumulates inside of us, it can lead to cell deterioration or digestion related diseases like gastro-intestinal disorders or liver disease. Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight, but one should be aware of such serious long-term consequences of regularly consuming burnt broccoli.  

Ways to cook broccoli which reduce the chance of burning:

  1. Boil – Because vitamins B and C are water-soluble, they dissolve and seep into surrounding water like that which we use to rinse or boil the broccoli. The longer the broccoli is in water or being rinsed with it, the more of those two vitamins will be lost. Likewise, the longer the veggie is in hot water, cooking, the more loss of those nutrients. However, they won’t disappear completely–likely only around 15%. There will also be a loss of folate, up to 35% but normally only 20% if not overcooked in the water.
  2. Bake – As long as cooking at a temperature below 400 degrees F, there is little chance of burning broccoli. The only way it will burn under that temperature is if it’s kept in the oven way too long–like over two hours long. It’s best to spread out broccoli on a pan in a 375 degrees F oven for about 10-12 minutes. This will cook it quickly enough to keep its nutrients, but heat it enough to release the anti-oxident compounds mentioned above.
  3. Microwave – It’s almost impossible to burn broccoli in a microwave due to the steam that is produced and lingers while food is being cooked inside that kind of an oven. Broccoli is 70% water, so it takes a long time for a microwave to reduce the vegetable to a water-free element. Before Broccoli can burn, all of the water must be evaporated from itself and its immediate surroundings. 

NOTEKeep in mind that boiling broccoli, though great to avoid burning it, is not so great for maintaining its nutrition. Vitamins B and C are water-soluable, so the longer broccoli cooks or sits in water, the more of those to nutrients you will lose in the water…Up to 25% of them!

AVOID broiling and grilling.

Broiling in the oven places the flames so close to the broccoli that the vegetable can burn in a matter of seconds if not constantly monitored. Plus, the broccoli can literally catch on fire, causing some of the dangerous chemicals to ruin the otherwise delicious, nutritional veggie, not to mention burning down your kitchen.

Similarly, broccoli can catch the grill flames, causing the veggie to burn. At least with grilling, the food can be monitored while the grill is open. If it’s not left unattended, and flare up can be easily put out, saving the broccoli from being ruined by burning. 

Still, broccoli, which contains small amounts of fructose, glucose, and sucrose, can easily char, so it’s important to avoid charring itto black… a dark golden brown will do just fine.

Final Thoughts

Steaming, microwaving, boiling and baking vegetables are good methods for cooking broccoli, but just keep the amount of water and length of cook time to the bare minimum to preserve the nutrients. And don’t burn it!

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