Super Vegies

Reporter: Lynda Kinkade

In a world first, Australian scientists have created a new so called super veggie. Its a variety of broccoli with 40% more cancer fighting properties than regular broccoli and it is not the result of genetic engineering.

And its just the first in a wide range of veggies that are being developed to improve our health and wellbeing. The discovery is being seen as a breakthrough in cancer prevention.

To uncover the secret, Scientist Dr Rod Jones worked with a research team from across Australia and New Zealand, for more than 10 years. "We screen over 400 different types of broccoli and we found one variety that just happen to tick of the boxes. So this didn't involve grafting or genetic modification at all. We did a market survey when we started the project and number one outcome form the public was no genetic engineering -- they want their veggies to be natural and good for them", Dr. Jones said.

The new booster broccoli's additional anti-oxidants help to slow and prevent illnesses such as heart disease, liver disease and some cancers. "The sulforaphane in booster broccoli has been shown to stop cancer cell division and also to reduce inflammation, so this is a very powerful step towards reducing your risk of lifestyle diseases", Dr. Jones said.

Five farms across Victoria and Queensland are now developing the new variety. "With regular broccoli we use more chemicals to kill a fungus on Karl Zausa, a 4th generation broccoli farmer.

"The booster broccoli uses slightly less water, which is a lot better being in a drought, so that's a big help", he added.

Antioxidant levels are at their peak when the broccoli is harvested and packed in airtight plastic wrap to ensure the levels remain high.

However, dietician Emma Stirling warns not to cook broccoli in a microwave as it reduces nutrients. "The antioxidants are best preserved by either eating it raw with a lovely dip or in a lightly steamed method", she said.


The Vital Vegetables Project, funded partly by the Victorian and the NZ Governments at a cost of $20 million, is now being expanded to include other veggies. "We've got a range of tomatoes coming out next year that are very high in anti-oxidants and vitamin C; we have a range of mini capsicums that are very sweet and also high in vitamin a, c; and we've got a line lettuces that we're hopping, towards the end of next year, will come out. After that we've got aims for any popular vegetable you can think of", Dr. Jones said.

Recent studies show three out of four of us don't eat the recommended five serves of veggies a day -- and men are worse than women. "The minimum serve you should be getting for vegetables, based on our dietary guidelines, is five serves. And really, if you want to optimise your diet for good health for the future, I would recommend that you try and fit in more. A serve is about a cup of salad vegetables or half a cup or 75 grams of cooked vegetables", Emma said.

The booster broccoli is now being stocked at most supermarkets for about the same price as the organic variety - that's about $2 dollars for 250 grams.

And despite being better for us, the booster veggies still have to be eaten in the same serves.

For more details on these booster vegetables and recipe ideas please visit the website: www.vitalvegetables.com.au