Are you ruining your broccoli?

Blasting microwave radiation at your meals isn't exactly a recipe for good health -- but if you're "nuking" your chow anyway, here's a little more food for thought: Microwave ovens can kill off key nutrients -- especially the nutrients and health benefits of broccoli.

Broccoli is one of the best natural sources of sulforaphane, which can raise levels of antioxidants in your body, prevent cancer (especially breast cancer) and fight off tumors when they do form.

It's also a powerful anti-inflammatory, and recent studies have shown it may even protect against arthritis.

But there's always a catch, right?

In this case, it's a pretty big one: Broccoli keeps the sulforaphane locked up in its inert form, which is useless to you. The only way to activate it is to eat an enzyme called myrosinase along with it.

Conveniently, that myrosinase is also found in broccoli.

But if you cook the broccoli, you wipe out the myrosinase -- and, according to one new study on the health benefits of broccoli, the fastest way to kill off this enzyme is with the microwave.

Nuking your broccoli for even one minute is enough to wipe out practically all of the myrosinase.

No myrosinase means no sulforaphane -- and no sulforaphane means losing all the health benefits of broccoli.

The best way to maximize myrosinase isn't to eat broccoli raw. It's to steam it until it turns bright green -- about 3-4 minutes, according to the study presented at the American Institute for Cancer Research's annual conference.

(Just don't use one of those microwave steamers; that defeats the purpose.)

Don't stop there. Along with broccoli, serve a side salad with some raw radish, arugula, and/or wasabi. All three also contain natural myrosinase and will help awaken the sulforaphane locked inside your broccoli.

And all three are pretty healthy -- not to mention tasty -- on their own.

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