Eating broccoli can lower your risk of bowel cancer -even if it is overcooked, say researchers.
It is well known that broccoli is a superfood that helps fight cancer, but it was always feared that cooking the vegetable for too long could prevent us from getting the full benefit.
However, researchers have discovered that eating three helpings a week can reduce your risk of bowel cancer - even if it is overcooked.
The findings show the body can still absorb the powerful cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane, using bacteria in the gut to release it from its parent chemical.
"Many people overcook their broccoli, unwittingly destroying the plant enzyme that gives us sulforaphane," the Daily Mail quoted Professor Elizabeth Jeffery as saying.
"Now we know the microbiota in our digestive tract can salvage some of this important cancer-preventive agent even if that happens.
"This discovery raises the possibility that we will be able to enhance the activity of these bacteria in the colon, increasing broccoli's cancer-preventive power," she added.
Scientists had long suspected microbes in the intestines could perform this trick, but no one knew for certain.
However, after a trial on rats at the University of Illinois, Professor Jeffery said: "The presence of sulforaphane in measurable amounts shows it is being converted in the lower intestine and is available for absorption in the body."
The discovery could lead to new treatments for bowel cancer.
The findings are published the journal Food and Function.