Broccoli Joins The Fight For Clean Air (With Recipe)!

BY ON October 3, 2014


We know vegetables are healthy, but there’s clean air research about broccoli that puts this popular brassica on the top of the menu for us!

Broccoli is known for supplying bodies with Calcium, Vitamin K, C and Folate, but but did you know eating broccoli can actually detox pollutants? Since air pollution has been associated with lung cancer and cardiopulmonary diseases, the idea of eating broccoli to detox dangerous air pollutants like benzene, acrolein, and crotonaldehyde from our bodies gives us more reasons to love broccoli. (See my delicious Cream of Broccoli Soup recipe below.)

The Broccoli Study

A group of researchers, including John D. Groopman from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, conducted a randomized clinical trial to test this theory. The study was conducted in Qidong, in the Yangtze River region in China, a highly polluted area with substantial levels of airborne pollutants, to test the effects of broccoli sprouts on detoxing specific airborne pollutants. 

Broccoli sprouts are rich source of the glucosinolate and glucoraphanin, which can act to generate anti-cancer agent, sulforaphane, that protects cells. The result from the 12 week experiment showed that urinary excretion levels of benzene increased by 61%, and acrolein level increased by 23% for those receiving broccoli sprout beverage compared with placebo. There was no difference in excretion levels of crotonaldehyde in those receiving broccoli sprout beverage compared with placebo. 

So what does this mean? It means broccoli’s magic will continue long after you’ve cleared your dinner table. And as one of the researchers  Thomas W. Kensler, noted, “…intervention with broccoli…may provide a frugal means to attenuate their associated long-term health risks.”

In addition, the idea of using a food-based solution to possibly prevent cancer and cardiopulmonary diseases from air pollution makes studies like this so valuable. More research on the optimal dosage and frequency are planned for this region in China. Read the abstract of the study here.

Eat More Broccoli!

Broccoli is my family’s favorite brassica. My garden frittata recipe calls for any garden fresh greens, but my family prefers to substitute broccoli as a main ingredient. And to give broccoli more presence on our dinner menu, I came up with this versatile creamy broccoli soup that can be eaten hot or cold. Also, to thicken the recipe for sauce, you can use zoodles – spiralized zucchini noodles. I’ve also substituted cauliflower instead of cashews. But if you like dairy,  use real cream.

Cream Of Broccoli Soup With Cashews


  • 2 cups broccoli florets and sliced stems
  • 1/4 cup of soaked raw cashew nuts
  • 1 cup leek whites and tender greens, sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 large cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 cup of chicken or vegetable stock, divided
  • 3 sprigs of fresh tarragon or 1 Tsp of dried tarragon
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil or grass fed butter
  • 2 tsp of chopped chives for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Soak raw cashews overnight in cold water in the refrigerator.
  2. Heat oil or butter in a 3 quart sized pot and sauté onions, leek and garlic until onions and leek are translucent.
  3. Add broccoli, tarragon, and chicken or vegetable stock to the pot. Cover and bring to boil. Then, simmer until all the vegetables are cooked and soft. When done, open the pot and let the vegetables cool.
  4. Meanwhile, add cashews and 1/4 cup of stock to a blender and pureé until smooth, adjusting the stock amount. Pour the pureed cashews in a bowl.
  5. When vegetables are cooled, transfer the veggies to a blender (make sure the veggie mixture is cool unless you like cleaning broccoli off of the ceilings and walls) and blend until smooth, while adding cashew pureé, alittle at a time. You can use the cashew pureé as much as you want or little as you want. A little bit goes a long way. If you are using cream, the same rule applies. If you want to use it as a sauce, use less stock to make the consistency a little thicker.
  6. Transfer the mixture back to the pot and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. For cold soup, chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  7. Garnish with chopped chives before eating.
  8. Enjoy!



TOPICS: Air Pollution, Food