Broccoli has an excellent reputation among healthy food choices. Its rich nutrients are highly beneficial for the body. It belongs to the cabbage family and can be eaten raw or cooked. It is always hand-harvested. Calabrese broccoli, sprouting broccoli, and purple cauliflower are three major varieties of broccoli.
Why should you add broccoli to your diet? Here are some of the most important reasons:
Why Should You Include Broccoli in Your Diet?
Broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables, with only 34 calories per 100 grams. It is packed with vitamins C, K, and B, as well as dietary minerals.
It has twice the amount of Vitamin C as an orange and as much calcium as whole milk. It contains selenium, a powerful anti-cancer agent. It also has anti-viral and anti-cancer properties.
Broccoli contains phytochemicals such as sulforaphane, which delay precancer lesions and modulate cancer cells.
Why Should You Munch On Broccoli? 10 Health Benefits of Broccoli
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable rich in several nutrients and offers many health benefits. Here are some of the most important health benefits of broccoli:
1. Protects Against Certain Types of Cancer
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and garden chess, are rich in the phytochemical compound called sulforaphane. A study suggests that this compound is effective in preventing and treating various types of cancers, such as:
- Prostate cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Skin, urinary bladder, and oral cancers
Broccoli’s bioactive compounds, such as vitamins, polyphenols, sulfides, glucosinolates, and antioxidants, make it an important element of your daily diet. Researchers often refer to it as ‘Green Chemoprevention’.
Broccoli is also rich in Indole-3-carbinol, which boosts DNA repair and halts cancer cell growth.
Although there are several studies that link broccoli to a reduced risk of cancer, please note that a balanced diet, as well as lifestyle factors, play a vital role in cancer prevention.
2. Rich in Vitamins, Minerals, and Bioactive Compounds
Broccoli is a nutrient-rich vegetable. It is packed with an array of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other bioactive compounds. Here is a detailed breakdown of vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds present in 100 grams or 3.5 oz of broccoli:
- Energy: 141 kJ (34 kcal)
- Carbs: 6.64 grams
- Protein: 2.82 gram
- Fat: 0.37 grams
- Fiber: 2.6 grams
- Beta-carotene: 31 μg
- Vitamin C: 107% (89.2 mg)
- Vitamin A Equivalent: 4%
- Vitamin K: 97% (101.6 μg)
- Vitamin B9 (Folate): 16% (63 μg)
- Potassium: 7% (316 mg)
- Zinc: 4% (0.41 mg)
- Magnesium: 6% (21 mg)
- Iron: 6% (0,73 mg)
- Phosphorus: 6% of the RDI
- Selenium: 3% of the RDI
Note: It is important to note that the use of different cooking methods, such as boiling, microwaving, steaming, or frying, can change the vegetable’s nutrient composition.
Furthermore, broccoli consists of antioxidants such as carotenoids that help solidify and improve immunity. Vitamin B-9 helps in proper cell growth.
The presence of dietary fiber helps maintain bowel movements, along with lowering cholesterol levels. Irregular cholesterol levels may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
3. Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is the process by which a body activates the immune system to remove harmful foreign stimuli such as a bacteria or a virus. The immune system begins fighting against the external agent, resulting in symptoms like pain, redness, swelling, etc. Inflammation can be either acute or chronic.
The presence of phytochemicals, antioxidants, and other bioactive compounds in broccoli helps reduce inflammation. Kaempferol is a flavonoid in broccoli that has strong anti-inflammatory properties. It assists your body to fight against bacteria or viruses of any kind. Additionally, sulforaphane in broccoli reduces and controls inflammation.
A study to determine the inflammatory status of young, healthy smokers uncovered that 10-day broccoli consumption significantly reduced CRP levels in smokers.
Along with broccoli consumption, other lifestyle factors also greatly contribute to reducing inflammation.
4. Controls Blood Sugar Levels
People with diabetes can include broccoli in their diet to control blood sugar levels. It is known to have a low glycemic index. The presence of chromium in broccoli helps stabilize blood sugar levels. It helps the human body to process insulin effectively, protecting against diabetes.
A study suggests that chromium is a beneficial mineral in the regulation of insulin action. It contributes to enhancing insulin activity.
Besides chromium, broccoli’s sulforaphane again lowers blood sugar levels and helps Type-2 diabetic patients.
5. Supports Detoxification
Broccoli plays a crucial role in detoxification. It helps create a shield against malignant cells of the body. Sulforaphane helps the liver to produce detoxifying enzymes capable of blocking free-radical attacks on DNA. Additionally, broccoli’s phytochemicals help reduce susceptibility to carcinogens and the levels of heavy metals in the body.
Experts have quoted that broccoli can detoxify the cancer-inducing chemicals before they become life-challenging.
6. Reduces Constipation
Broccoli is rich in fiber and antioxidants that support healthy bowel function and the digestive system. Sulforaphane present in it protects you from many digestive problems.
For digestive health, regular bowel function and healthy gut bacteria are two primary components. Adding antioxidant- and fiber-rich food like broccoli aids in maintaining a healthy gut.
A study found that daily intake of broccoli sprouts normalizes bowel habits in healthy human subjects.
7. Supports Healthy Brain Function
Many nutrients are responsible for promoting healthy brain function. One of them is Vitamin K. Broccoli is a rich source of Vitamin K. Hence, it helps maintain a generously good brain function and sharpens cognitive ability.
Another potent bioactive compound in broccoli that supports brain health is sulforaphane. It is considered one of the best therapeutic compounds to treat brain injuries.
Beta-carotene in broccoli has the potential to prevent cognitive decline, according to a report by Harvard Medical School.
8. Helps Reduce Cholesterol
Our body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells. However, high cholesterol may cause several health issues.
The soluble fiber present in broccoli aids in reducing high cholesterol levels. Fiber and bile acids combine together and help lower cholesterol.
A study found that higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower) lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
9. Supports Dental and Oral Health
Maintaining oral health is paramount to avoid periodontal diseases. Dentists suggest eating raw broccoli as its elements protect your teeth from plaque. Further, it shields the gums too.
The following nutrients in broccoli help maintain oral health and prevent dental diseases:
- Vitamin C: Helps increase tissue strength.
- Sulforaphane: Reduces the risk of oral cancer.
- Beta-carotene: Strong gum and teeth health.
- Kaempferol: Protects from periodontal diseases.
10. Promotes Healthy Bones and Joints
Bones tend to weaken with aging. However, including broccoli in your meals can save you from any sort of surgery. It promotes healthy joints in the long run.
Broccoli has salicylic acid that helps strengthen your cartilage. Researchers have found that sulforaphane helps prevent osteoarthritis. Further, the presence of calcium is good for overall bone health.
What are the Tips for Using Broccoli?
So, you might be asking: “How do I include broccoli in my diet?” You can consume broccoli both raw and cooked, here are some options to eat broccoli:
1. Raw Broccoli
As broccoli is a nutrient-dense vegetable, eating it raw is highly recommended than any other state to avoid losing any of its nutrients. However, if you are interested in cooking broccoli, it is advised to steam it for about 5 to 6 minutes. This will retain most of its nutrients.
2. Wash the Broccoli and Cut the Florets Well
Always remember to wash broccoli before you prepare it for eating. Cut the large stem with a knife and pull the florets or completely cut them off from the bases.
Note: Instead of cutting the stem, you can also eat it completely. It is completely edible.
3. Add Cream or Prepare a Salad
After cutting the florets, you can eat them plain. You can use them to prepare a salad with other vegetables like tomatoes and berries. You can even add cream for extra flavor.
Note: Eating raw broccoli can be monotonous. Therefore, you can add spices and other vegetables to make it delicious or taste different.
Steam florets or whole broccoli for 5-6 minutes, add salt and pepper, and give a good toss. Additionally, you can season it with olive oil, vinegar, or any other seasoning ingredient.
Note: Steaming helps you preserve the nutrients of broccoli immensely. However, refrain from frying it as it results in a major loss of nutrients.
5. Combine with Other Foods
Combine broccoli with other foods or use it as toppings. For instance, use it in pasta or salads for extra flavors.
Note: Avoid the intake of broccoli with refined wheat-flour-based products.
3 Interesting Dishes to Make with Broccoli
Eating broccoli on its own daily can be boring. You can try out the following delicious broccoli-based dishes at home. All the recipes are easy and quick to prepare.
1. Stir Fry Broccoli
If you have a craving for eating stir-fried broccoli, here is a simple and quick way out! However, it is recommended not to eat broccoli in a fried state more often.
- Olive oil
- Sesame seeds
- Orange pepper
- Garlic and ginger
- Soy sauce
Take a pan and add olive oil. Saute all the vegetables, including garlic and ginger, and add broccoli at the end to maintain its crispiness. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add sesame seeds and a tablespoon of day sauce.
Serve the dish hot!
2. Creamy Broccoli Soup
- Onion and garlic
- Cashews (for rich flavor)
First, separate the florets from the stem. Steam them for 5 to 6 minutes. Take a pan, put olive oil, and saute broccoli with onion and garlic. Now add the steamed broccoli and, finally, add boiled water. Stir it for 2-3 minutes. Add cashew paste, salt, and pepper.
Serve it hot!
3. Chicken and Broccoli
- Chicken pieces
- Sesame seeds
- Onion and garlic
- Salt and pepper
This recipe is rich in protein and nutrients. Start with boiling your chicken pieces and stir broccoli in olive oil on one side. Take a pan and add olive oil. After that, add ginger and garlic, broccoli, and boiled chicken. Now, add sesame seeds on top of it with spices. Cook for 5-6 minutes.
And you’re done! Enjoy this quick and healthy recipe.
Are There Any Side Effects of Broccoli?
While broccoli offers numerous benefits, consuming excessive amounts of this vegetable may lead to some side effects.
Due to its high fiber content, consuming large quantities of broccoli can potentially cause gastrointestinal discomfort for some people, including gas and bloating. This is primarily attributed to the presence of raffinose, a complex sugar composed of galactose, glucose, and fructose. Raffinose is not fully digested in the small intestine and reaches the large intestine, where it undergoes fermentation, leading to the production of methane gas and resulting in gastrointestinal discomfort.
It’s important to note that the extent of these digestive effects can vary from person to person, and many people can enjoy broccoli without experiencing significant discomfort.
Cooking broccoli can significantly reduce those side effects. Additionally, steaming can help retain broccoli nutrients. It makes certain nutrients more bioavailable and easier to digest.
Broccoli is a powerhouse of nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
From providing a safety net for different types of cancer to reducing cholesterol and maintaining healthy joints, broccoli is a beneficial vegetable. It serves as a beneficial addition to a balanced diet. Its nutrient-rich profile offers a wide range of health benefits.
Try to incorporate broccoli into your meals while maintaining a diverse and balanced diet for overall well-being.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is there any nutritional value in a broccoli stem?
Broccoli stem contains all the nutrients that the florets have. It is rich in vitamins and minerals with few calories. Overall, it’s an excellent food that you must include in your diet.
2. How is broccoli grown?
Broccoli requires a good amount of sunlight (approximately 5 to 7 hours). Plant the seeds in fertile and moist soil. Add manure to it and continue watering at appropriate times.
3. Does broccoli help in weight loss?
Yes, broccoli is a great food to use for weight loss. It is low in calories and has a high water content.
4. Is broccoli good for kidneys?
Broccoli is rich in antioxidants and helps maintain kidney health. It contains potassium and small amounts of sodium and phosphorus. Hence, it is recommended for kidney-related ailments.