Broccoli belongs to the cabbage family which also includes cauliflower, collards, Brussels sprouts etc. and is known as a cruciferous vegetable. In looks it mostly resembles a cauliflower but broccoli’s florets are green in color. The compact head of florets are attached to small stems growing from a longer stalk. History of broccoli starts from Italy . From there it spread to other places and is now an easily available vegetable which grows all year round .
Nutrition in Broccoli
Broccoli is known to promote general health and has got numerous other health benefits. Broccoli is rich in nutrients including vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, vitamin A like substances called carotenoids, folate, calcium and fiber. It is also good sources of plant chemicals, also called phytochemicals, which has anti-cancer properties. It is also rich in minerals such as Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Manganese and Selenium. It is considered to be a super food.
Health benefits of Broccoli
Eating broccoli regularly or at least 2-3 times per week can provide fantastic health benefits. Increasing the serving size also helps.
Broccoli helps in detoxification of body : It has a unique combination of 3 glucosinolate phytonutrients which make Isothiocyanates – the detox regulating molecules. These help in all the major steps of detoxification of body including the activation, process of neutralization of toxins and then elimination from the body.
Fights inflammation-based disorders : Broccoli contains a natural antioxidant called thiocyanate, which protects the body from damage due to inflammation based disorders such as cystic fibrosis and neurodegeneration. Not only this, it also fights against inflammation due to allergies as it has a special substance – kaempferol. It acts on our stomach and significantly reduces allergy induced inflammation.
Fights against cancer : Any food which has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxification properties is very likely to reduce cancer risk, same is with Broccoli. Broccoli contains a component called indole-3-carbinol which has the ability to prevent hormone related cancers. Another component sulforaphane helps in formation of enzymes that can block cancer. Beta-carotene present in broccoli works against free radicals which weaken our defense system as in cancer. Phyto-chemicals called isothiocyanates present n broccoli sprouts prevent bladder cancer . Research has shown direct relation between lowering of cancer risk and usage of broccli, especially in case of colon, breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, etc.
Benefits to heart and lungs : Broccoli has a powerful cholestrol lowering capability, especially when it is steamed. According to research eating Broccoli leads to depletion of bile juices, to replace which liver uses cholesterol, thus dropping its level. Sulforaphane in broccoli increases the activity of protein Nrf2 which prevents plaque buildup in the cardiovascular system. Broccoli contains a protein called thioredoxin which lessens the deterioration of heart muscles due to lack of oxygen .
Sulforaphane also protect against respiratory inflammation and increases antioxidant enzymes which protect airways from free radicals that enter as dust and other particles from outside. Thus broccoli helps prevent asthma, rhinitis and other lung diseases.
Benefits for stomach : Broccoli extracts improve stomach’s defensive mechanism against infections. Fibers from broccoli are particularly beneficial against Crohn’s disease . Broccoli sprouts prevent inflammation and ulcers in stomach . The fiber content helps to form a healthy stomach and intestine.
Benefits from Vitamin C : Broccoli’s high vitamin C content helps in prevention of cataracts and treatment of cold. It also aids in iron absorption by our body.
Benefits during pregnancy : Broccoli contains folic acid which prevents complications during pregnancy and help in normal tissue growth.
Fight bone related problems : Sulforaphane present in broccoli can promote joint health by blocking the enzymes that are responsible for joint destruction in arthritis . Broccoli is rich in Calcium which is beneficial against osteoporosis . Broccoli also is a rich source of Magnesium which helps in healthy bone formation.
Misc health benefits of Broccoli : Broccoli contains potassium which can help reduce high blood pressure . It also has good amount of Selenium which enables the thyroid to function normally. Researches has shown that Carotenoids in broccoli play an important role in promoting eye health.
How to select and store Broccoli
Select compact ones with florets, stems and stalk that are free of bruises. Avoid the ones with yellow flowers on top as it indicates over-maturity. In order to store, keep raw broccoli in a plastic bag inside the refrigerator where it will remain fresh for around 10 days. The ones that have been cut should be used quickly as it will start losing nutrients soon.
How to use
Broccoli can be used in a multitude of ways. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Steaming the broccoli is very good for retention of nutrition and flavor. Broccoli sprouts are also especially nutritious.
Broccoli in Your Daily Life
- Cream of Broccoli Soup: Excellent broccoli soup recipe with garlic and onions
- Broccoli Salad: All season nutritious salad
- Ginger Broccoli: Quick and easy to cook with ginger and sesame
Precautions while using Broccoli
There is no need for any precautions in using broccoli and only thing to be ensured is that they are washed and cleaned properly. There is a misconception that broccoli is goitrogenic, but this is found to have no basis on fact .
Broccoli with so many health benefits is surprisingly easy to incorporate in our daily food. We highly recommend Broccoli for each and every one.