Broccoli may have a variety of health benefits, including its ability to improve digestion, lower cholesterol levels, and maximize vitamin and mineral uptake. It might also help prevent allergic reactions, boost the immune system, protect the skin, aid in preventing birth defects, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and improve vision as well as ocular health.
What is Broccoli?
Broccoli may be a cruciferous vegetable, which belongs to the Italica cultivar group of Brassicaceae oleracea like cabbage and cauliflower. The most commonly eaten parts of it are the green or purple flowering heads, which are shaped like a tree, coming off a thick and edible stalk. 
There are many types of broccoli, which are popular in different parts of the world. The three main varieties are as follows.
- Calabrese broccoli: It is the most common type, named after Calabria (Italy) and is simply called broccoli.
- Sprouting broccoli: This variety has many heads and thin stalks.
- Purple cauliflower: It is shaped like cauliflower and consists of tiny flower buds.
- The other types include broccoli Rabe, Chinese broccoli, and broccoflower.
Watch Video: 8 Wonderful Benefits Of Broccoli
What Does Broccoli Taste Like?
Raw broccoli may generally has a mildly bitter taste like a cabbage. People with a particular receptor gene might be sensitive to some flavors and find it extremely bitter and unpleasant. This taste is because of the presence of natural compounds called glucosinolates.
|Serving Size :|
|Total lipid (fat) [g]||0.37|
|Carbohydrate, by difference [g]||6.64|
|Fiber, total dietary [g]||2.6|
|Sugars, total including NLEA [g]||1.7|
|Glucose (dextrose) [g]||0.49|
|Calcium, Ca [mg]||47|
|Iron, Fe [mg]||0.73|
|Magnesium, Mg [mg]||21|
|Phosphorus, P [mg]||66|
|Potassium, K [mg]||316|
|Sodium, Na [mg]||33|
|Zinc, Zn [mg]||0.41|
|Copper, Cu [mg]||0.05|
|Manganese, Mn [mg]||0.21|
|Selenium, Se [µg]||2.5|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]||89.2|
|Pantothenic acid [mg]||0.57|
|Vitamin B-6 [mg]||0.18|
|Folate, total [µg]||63|
|Folate, food [µg]||63|
|Folate, DFE [µg]||63|
|Choline, total [mg]||18.7|
|Vitamin A, RAE [µg]||31|
|Carotene, beta [µg]||361|
|Carotene, alpha [µg]||25|
|Cryptoxanthin, beta [µg]||1|
|Vitamin A, IU [IU]||623|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]||1403|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]||0.78|
|Tocopherol, beta [mg]||0.01|
|Tocopherol, gamma [mg]||0.17|
|Tocotrienol, alpha [mg]||0.04|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]||101.6|
|Fatty acids, total saturated [g]||0.11|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]||0.03|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]||0.11|
|Aspartic acid [g]||0.33|
|Glutamic acid [g]||0.54|
|Sources include : USDA |
In terms of unique organic compounds, it might be a rich source of phytonutrient glucosinolates, isothiocyanate, flavonoids like kaempferol, and various other antioxidant compounds that positively boost our health!
A 100 gm serving of raw broccoli may have approximately 32 calories, making it an excellent choice to add to meal when trying to induce weight loss. Broccoli may help promote satiety due to its fiber content thus keeping you fuller for longer periods.
Health Benefits of Broccoli
Health benefits of this cruciferous vegetable include the following:
May Aid in Digestion
Research on broccoli published in the Journal of Functional Foods revealed the results of an animal study conducted to check if broccoli is helpful in maintaining gut health. As part of the study, a group of mice was administered the green vegetable as part of their regular diet and it was seen that they were better able to tolerate their digestive issues such as colitis and leaky gut in comparison to those that were not given the green vegetable. It was thus concluded that the fiber content may have played a vital role in regulating digestion. Along with kaempferol, fiber also tends to keep the stomach lining healthy and helps maintain healthy bacteria levels in the intestines.
May Prevent Chronic Diseases
Broccoli may contain certain phenolic compounds that might help keep chronic diseases at bay. This may lower your chances of developing diabetes, asthma, heart disorders, and many other lethal diseases, thereby, decreasing mortality. Broccoli may be most effective when consumed with other healthy, disease-preventing foods that are not processed.
May Improve Liver Health
A 2016 report published in the Journal of Nutrition revealed that broccoli may help keep your liver functioning at its optimal level by lessening the development of fatty liver.
May Boost Brain Health
Broccoli may help boost cognition and memory because it is rich in vitamin K and choline. In addition to this, sulforaphane may also help aid in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s and many neurodegenerative diseases.
May Aid In Hair Care
Nutrients, found in broccoli, like vitamins A and C might be great for keeping your hair shiny, thick, and healthy. These vitamins may also counter dry hair by regulating sebum production on the scalp to naturally moisturize hair leading to less brittle and fragile hair and reduces hair loss.
May Have Anti-inflammatory Properties
A 2014 study published in the Preventive Nutrition and Food Science Journal suggests that broccoli florets might have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It may have antioxidants like vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, sulforaphane, kaempferol, and many others, which makes this cruciferous vegetable good for relieving inflammation.
May Possess Anti-aging Properties
Broccoli may combat the aging process with the help of a compound called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) present in it. NMN may promote the production of a compound that triggers metabolism and hence prevents genetic changes that lead to premature aging. Antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin C, and collagen also play a key role in delaying aging.
May Help Control Diabetes
A 2012 study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, may suggest that broccoli sprouts may improve insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients. To elaborate, it may suggest that sulforaphane and kaempferol in this cruciferous food might have the ability to lower blood sugar levels in those who have Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus diabetics, thereby helping control it. Broccoli in addition to a heart-healthy, carbohydrate-controlled diet is always encouraged for the best results when it comes to blood glucose control.
May Improve Metabolism
Nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, folate, and vitamin A in broccoli may assist in boosting the body’s metabolism. Fiber, especially, shows a TEF (thermic effect of food) and may increase your metabolic rate after eating. It may also promote satiety by having a good amount of dietary fiber.
May Augment Sexual Libido
Broccoli might help boost blood circulation to the organs of the body and may help in improving libido. It contains folate and vitamin C, which can improve fertility.
May Detoxify the Body
The presence of vitamin C, sulfur, and amino acids may make broccoli a good detoxifier. It might help remove free radicals and toxins like uric acid from the body, thereby purifying the blood and keeping away toxin-related problems such as boils, itches, rashes, gout, arthritis, rheumatism, renal calculi, skin diseases like eczema, and hardening of the skin. It may also be an alkaline vegetable and can help balance the body’s pH levels.
May Help With Skin Care
Broccoli may aid in skincare and give you a glowing, healthy, and radiant appearance. The antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, amino acids, and folate, present in it, might do this magic.
May Protect From UV Rays
Glucoraphanin, a phytonutrient found in significant amounts in broccoli, may have been connected with reversing the negative effects of sun exposure.
May Offer Relief from Stomach Disorders
Broccoli may be very rich in fiber or roughage, which may help relieve constipation since that is the root cause of almost all the stomach disorders. Fiber adds to the bulkiness of the food, retains water, and stimulates healthy bowel movements. The magnesium and vitamins present in it may help reduce acidity, facilitate proper digestion, and aid in the absorption of nutrients from the other foods. It might also soothe the stomach by reducing inflammation. It is recommended that those who suffer from Irritable Bowel Disease (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis) as well as diverticulitis, may avoid roughage as this can cause flare-ups.
May Prevent Heart Disease
Along with the antioxidant glucoraphanin, the high-fiber content in broccoli might help reduce LDL or bad cholesterol levels and keep the heart functioning properly. Also, reducing bile has a strong impact on cholesterol levels, thereby helping your heart health. Studies have shown that the fiber combines better with bile, making it much easier and efficient to excrete. Kaempferol is a flavonoid that may also aid in keeping the heart healthy owing to its anti-inflammatory properties.
May Aid In Eye Care
Carotenoids like zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, and phosphorus, and other vitamins such as vitamin A, B complex, C, and E found in broccoli may be very good for ocular health. These substances can be used to protect eyes against macular degeneration and cataracts, while also repairing the damage caused by radiation.
May Lower Risks Of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
A Harvard Medical research paper suggests that broccoli may be rich in beta-carotene, which when consumed causes nearly a 25 percent less risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Plus, it may contain omega 3 fatty acids, which also might help in preventing ALS. Recent research suggests that intake of diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce or delay the onset of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
May Boost Immunity
Broccoli may derive its purple and green color from antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, selenium, copper, choline zinc, and phosphorus. These compounds present may be really great immune system boosters and they might protect you from numerous infections. In addition to eating a balanced diet, it is encouraged to get adequate sleep and manage stress to see the best results.
May Improve Bone and Teeth Health
Broccoli may keep the bones and teeth strong as it is rich in vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. Eating the vegetable can be very beneficial, particularly for children, elderly people, and/or pregnant or lactating women. Children and older adults may be very prone to osteoporosis, weakening of bones and teeth, and calcium deficiency. Moreover, vitamin K is essential for the formation of osteocalcin, which is a protein, only found in bones.
May Help Fetal Development During Pregnancy
Broccoli might be full of nutrients essential for pregnant women. It may contain proteins, calcium, vitamins, antioxidants, iron, and phosphorus. Being rich in fiber, it may also eliminate constipation, which is very common during pregnancy. The folate content in these vegetables might help ensure that there are no birth defects such as neural tube defects, which is a major problem for pregnant women who have a folic acid deficiency in their diet. It is still recommended that women take prenatal vitamins or take what is instructed by their OB/GYN.
May Regulate Blood Pressure
Chromium, found abundantly in broccoli, may help regulate blood pressure. Also, the nutritious amount of potassium in broccoli might act as a vasodilator. More specifically, potassium may help improve blood flow and oxygenation of essential organs by relaxing tension and stress of veins and blood vessels. Magnesium and calcium may also aid in regulating blood pressure and can help keep the heart protected from cardiovascular diseases like strokes or heart attacks.
May Fight Anemia
The vegetable may be rich in iron and protein and hence, forms an excellent remedy against anemia. Copper might also be another essential mineral in the production of red blood cells, along with iron. So include this green vegetable in your diet and help prevent iron-deficiency anemia.
How to Select Broccoli?
Look for the ones that has bright green heads, compact clusters of florets, and firm stalks. Make sure the fragrance is peppery and not unpleasant.
How to Store Broccoli?
Storing it will require you to mist its unwashed heads and wrap it in paper towels. You can refrigerate it for a maximum of 2-3 days. However, it is best to use fresh vegetables in your food preparation.
Uses of Broccoli
- It can be eaten cooked or raw.
- You can also steam it for a healthy meal.
- Include sautéed broccoli and olive oil in your salad to give it a nutrient boost.
- Add it as a healthy addition to soups and stews.
- Cheesy roasted broccoli: Roast broccoli, sprinkle salt and cheese, and garnish with a lemon slice to enjoy a healthy savory first course.
- Pizza: Topping your pizza with raw or steamed broccoli will give you a great flavor along with many health benefits.
- Pasta: Sauté it in olive oil and add it to your pasta.
Although this amazing vegetable may have a wealth of health benefits associated with it, there is always room for caution. The common side effects are as follows:
- Abdominal pain
- Allergic reactions
- Skin rashes
Blood-thinning: Vitamin K in broccoli may inhibit your anticoagulant medication. So be cautious while eating it if you are already administering warfarin or any other blood thinners. It is recommended that if you do not currently eat a lot of broccoli and you are taking Coumadin (Warfarin), do not increase your broccoli intake without discussing it with your doctor or dietitian.
Hypothyroidism: The green vegetable can worsen thyroid condition if eaten in excess. To be safe, it is best to talk to a doctor before adding it to your diet in large quantities. Other than that, eat it in moderation and start enjoying the health benefits right away!
History and Origin
It has been a part of their cultural history dating back to the 6th century BC. Broccoli was eventually spread throughout Europe and was widely cultivated. It didn’t make a significant appearance in the Americas until the early 20th century. The largest cultivator of this vegetable in the world is China, followed by India. It is very common all over the world, particularly in Europe, America, and Australia, but not as much in Africa. It can also be found in some South Asian cuisines like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.