‘B’ is for Broccoli and for blissful health. This popular vegetable has a wide variety of nutritional benefits, including its ability to prevent many types of cancer, improve our digestive system, lower cholesterol levels, detoxify the body, and maximize vitamin and mineral uptake. Broccoli also prevents allergic reactions, boosts the immune system, protects the skin, prevents birth defects, lowers blood pressure, eliminates inflammation, and improves vision and ocular health.
What is Broccoli?
This green vegetable, which occasionally has some purple tinges, is a close relative of cabbage and cauliflower and belongs to the Italica Cultivar group of Brassicaceae family. The most commonly eaten parts of it are the flowering heads, which are shaped like a tree, coming off a thick and edible stalk. There are three main varieties which are popular in different parts of the world. Calabrese broccoli is the most common and is typically simply shortened to “broccoli” while sprouting broccoli and purple cauliflower are two other varieties of the vegetable mostly found in Europe and the Mediterranean countries.
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 broccoli in the world is now 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.
It can be eaten cooked or raw, but the best ways are to steam it, shallow fry it, or eat it raw as salad greens because that preserves the nutrients contained in it. Some ways of cooking this vegetable enhance certain health benefits, such as the increased cholesterol-lowering properties that are gained when it has been steamed. Let’s take a look at some of the nutritional assets contained in broccoli which make it such an important part of our diet!
Broccoli Nutrition Facts
The health benefits of broccoli are derived from the unique mixture of nutrients, organic compounds, minerals, and vitamins that are found in this lovely vegetable. These include significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, dietary fiber, folate, potassium, selenium, vitamin A, manganese, tryptophan, vitamin B6, and phosphorus. In terms of unique organic compounds, broccoli is a rich source of phytonutrient glucosinolates, flavonoids, and various other antioxidant compounds that boost our health in a major way!
Health Benefits of Broccoli
Health benefits of Broccoli include the following:
Broccoli may prove to be a natural wonder drug for many types of cancer, including breast cancer, cancer of the uterus, prostate cancer, and cancers of various internal organs like the lungs, colon, liver, kidneys, and the intestines. That being said, it is particularly beneficial for breast cancer and uterine cancer, since it removes extra estrogen from the body. This is due to the presence of strong anti-carcinogenic compounds like glucoraphanin, diindolylmethane, beta-carotene, selenium and other nutrients like vitamin C, A, and E, zinc, potassium and certain amino acids, which are also good anti-cancer agents.
Detoxifies the Body
The presence of vitamin-C, sulfur, and certain amino acids make broccoli a very good detoxifier. It helps 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.
The credit for keeping your skin glowing and young goes to expert antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamin C, as well as other helpers like vitamin B complex, vitamin E (the one that gives shine to your skin and hair while reviving skin tissues), vitamin A and vitamin K, omega 3 fatty acids (which add glamor), amino acids, and folate present in broccoli. They all help take very good care of your skin and leave it glowing, healthy, and radiant.
Protects from UV Rays
Furthermore, glucoraphanin, one of the phytonutrients found in significant amounts in broccoli, has been connected with reversing the negative effects of sun exposure, so you can turn back the clock on your skin by eating plenty of this beneficial vegetable!
Treats Stomach Disorders
Broccoli is very rich in fiber or roughage, the primary dietary ingredient that can cure almost all stomach disorders by curing constipation since that is the root of almost all the stomach disorders. The fiber adds to the bulkiness of the food, retains water and forms healthy bowel movements. The magnesium and vitamins present in it also cure acidity, facilitate proper digestion and absorption of nutrients from the food and soothe the stomach by reducing inflammation.
Prevents Heart Diseases
Apart from the antioxidants mentioned above, broccoli has a very high fiber content, along with significant levels of beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, and other vitamins that help reduce LDL or bad cholesterol and keep the heart functioning properly by regulating blood-pressure. When you steam it, studies have shown that the fiber components combine better with bile, making it much easier and efficient to excrete. Reducing bile has a strong impact on cholesterol levels, thereby helping your heart health. Furthermore, the potassium found in broccoli is a vasodilator that can boost blood flow and oxygenation of essential organs by relaxing tension and stress of veins and blood vessels.
Zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin A, phosphorus, and other vitamins such as B complex, C, and E found in broccoli are very good for ocular health. These substances protect eyes against macular degeneration and cataracts, while also repairing the damage caused by radiation.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Broccoli is rich in various nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids. Recent research suggests that intake of diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce or delay the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The substances responsible for the green and purple color of broccoli are vitamin C, beta-carotene, and other vitamins and minerals, particularly selenium, copper, zinc, and phosphorus. These compounds present in it are really great immune system strengtheners that can protect you from numerous infections.
Improves Bone Health
Being very rich in calcium (present by 47 mg. per 100 grams) and other nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus, eating broccoli can be very beneficial, particularly for children, old people, pregnant women or lactating mothers. That’s because these are the people most prone to osteoporosis, weakening of bones and teeth, and calcium deficiency.
Helps in Pregnancy
Since it is full of nutrients essential for pregnant women, such as proteins, calcium, vitamins, antioxidants, detoxifiers, iron, phosphorus and others, it is an ideal component of any diet for them. Being rich in fiber, it also eliminates constipation, which is very common during pregnancy. Furthermore, the folate content in broccoli ensures that there are no birth defects, such as neural tube defects, which are a major problem for pregnant mothers who have a folic acid deficiency in their diet.
Regulates Blood Pressure
An important mineral, chromium, found abundantly in broccoli, helps in the proper functioning of insulin and regulates blood sugar, thereby regulating blood pressure as well. Vitamins, which make all our systems function properly and are found in abundance in it, along with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, help regulate blood pressure even more. So add some broccoli to your diet for some real heart health protection!
Anemia is directly related to a lack of iron and certain proteins. Broccoli is rich in both of these and hence forms an excellent remedy against anemia. Eat them and feel the blood surge powerfully through your body. Copper is also found in it which is another essential mineral in the production of red blood cells, along with iron.
Word of Caution: Although this amazing vegetable has a wealth of health benefits associated with it, there is always room for caution. In some people, contact with broccoli can cause an allergic rash, as some of the powerful compounds in the vegetable can be irritating to the skin. Other than that, eat it in moderation, according to proper serving guidelines, and you can start enjoying the health benefits right away!
Is broccoli good for you?
Yes, broccoli is very good for you! A single serving of less than 100g gives you more vitamin C than you need in a day, about 11% of your daily vitamin A, as well as iron and calcium. It’s also a great source of dietary fiber and is very low in calories.
Where does broccoli come from?
Broccoli originates from Italy, as you might have guessed from the sound of its name; the word itself also comes from an Italian word that means ‘sprout’. Historically, the vegetable was actually introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants and arrived in England from Belgium during the 18th century.
How does broccoli grow?
You can grow it from seeds; it grows best in cool weather, and in soil that is slightly alkaline. You can regulate the temperature (e.g. using mulch) and the alkalinity (e.g. by adding a planting mix, or a substance like limestone) of your soil to optimize growing conditions for your broccoli.
How do you cook broccoli?
There are many ways to cook broccoli; after cutting it into smaller florets, you can steam it (either in a microwave or on the stove), bake or stir-fry it with ginger, garlic, and other vegetables. It also pairs well with lemon or lime, basil and curry powder, and can even be enjoyed raw, if thoroughly washed first.
How many calories are there in broccoli?
A cup of chopped broccoli contains only 31 calories, making it very low in energy. Therefore, it’s a great addition to your diet if you are monitoring your energy intake – it’s also filled with vitamins and minerals to help you have a balanced diet.
How much protein is present in broccoli?
Roughly 20% of the energy you get from it comes from protein, which makes broccoli a great vegetarian source for this macronutrient. It is a very low-calorie food, as are most vegetables. Most of the energy you derive from eating broccoli is from complex carbohydrates; it’s also a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
How many carbs are there in broccoli?
Just under 75% of the energy in it comes from carbohydrates. However, don’t be deterred by this! The carbs in broccoli are mainly complex, which are the ‘good’ kind of carbs. It also has vitamins A, C, B1, B6, and E, which are all great for you, plus it’s a source of potassium, manganese, and fiber.