Washington: Mixing fresh broccoli with a spicy food that contains enzyme myrosinase boosts its cancer-fighting ability, a new study says.

The enzyme also ensures that the item is absorbed and placed in the upper part of the digestive system where it bestows the maximum health benefit, the study suggests.

"To get this effect, spice up your broccoli with broccoli sprouts, mustard, horseradish, or wasabi. The spicier, the better; that means it's being effective," said study author Elizabeth Jeffery, University of Illinois professor of nutrition.

It's no secret that many people cook the benefits right out of broccoli instead of steaming it lightly for two to four minutes to protect its healthful properties, said Jenna Cramer who led the study, the British Journal of Nutrition reports.

"However, this study shows that even if broccoli is overcooked, you can still boost its benefits by pairing it with another food that contains myrosinase," she said according to a university statement.

Myrosinase is the enzyme necessary to form sulforaphane, the vegetable's cancer-preventive component, study co-author Margarita Teran-Garcia explained.

Other foods that will boost broccoli's benefits if they are paired together include radishes, cabbage, arugula, watercress and Brussels sprouts.

(Agencies)