A cousin of cauliflower? Yes, that’s how most Indians know Broccoli and collectively the tribe of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts are known as ‘super veggies’ for they are a nutrition powerhouse.
Looking beautiful, broccoli’s green and purple florets are packed with unique phyto-nutrients that have been known to fight diseases and promote good health.
Here are the top 7 health benefits of broccoli:
- Trying to lose that flab? Make broccoli your diet staple: Extremely low on calories, broccoli provides only about 34 calories per 100gms serving. Furthermore, it is rich in dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants that help keep the blood pressure in control.
- Fight the demons of cancer: Being rich in phyto-nutrients such as thiocyanates, indoles, sulforaphane, isothiocyanates and flavonoids like beta-carotene cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zea-xanthin, consuming broccoli is said to help fight against cancers of the prostate, colon, urinary bladder, pancreas, and breast. Compounds found in these phyto-nutrients modify positive signalling at molecular receptor levels to destroy cancer cells.
- Thinking of making babies? Bet on broccoli! Being rich in Folates, studies have found that consuming fresh broccoli aids conception and also protects foetus against neural tube defects. Folate is also a good cancer fighting nutrient, especially breast cancers.
- Care for your eyes? Load up on greens: Broccoli is a storehouse of Vitamin A – the must have for good eye-sight. Just consuming 100gms of fresh broccoli can give you 21% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A. Especially helpful for the older population, Vitamin A prevents macular degeneration of the retina and maintains the health of retinal mucosa.
- Looking for flawless, younger skin? Look no further than broccoli! The little green florets of broccoli are packed with Vitamin C, an anti-oxidant that fights skin damage caused by stress and pollution, promotes collagen growth, and prevents wrinkles. What’s more – just one cup of broccoli provides 81 mg of Vitamin C – enough for your daily intake!
- Breaking bones bothering you? Strengthen them with broccoli: Vitamin K – an important nutrient for bone health is found in abundance in broccoli – just one cup of the fresh vegetable provides 92 micrograms of it – more than enough for your daily consumption. Vitamin K promotes calcium absorption in blood and speaking of calcium, broccoli provides 43 milligrams of it in just one cup! Super food – didn’t we say?
- Been leading an unhealthy lifestyle? Detoxify with broccoli: When it comes to detoxifying your system through diet, the importance of broccoli cannot be underestimated. Being rich in fiber, it prevents constipation, maintains gut health, and promotes natural excretion of toxins from the body through bile and stool. It also boosts immune health and protects against inflammation.
Getting More of Broccoli in Your Diet
Broccoli is best had fresh – left at room temperature for extended periods of time makes the vegetable lose its flavour and taste – it becomes woody, fibrous, or sulphurous. Broccoli is best had steamed and stir-fried with a little drizzling of olive oil, black pepper, and crushed garlic. You can even add chopped broccoli to your soups, wraps, pizza, or pasta sauce. To make sure your broccoli stays fresh for longer periods, refrigerate the unwashed vegetable into zip lock vegetable bags (ones that are perforated and allow the veggies to breathe). When wet, broccoli can lose its crunchiness by becoming damp and limp and can easily develop fungi.
Fun Facts About Broccoli
- Its name originated from Italy and is derived from the Italian word “braccio,” meaning “arm.”
- Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, loved broccoli so much that he imported its seeds from Italy to plant at Monticello in early part of the year 1767.
- China is the world’s #1 producer of broccoli with over 8 million tons a year of fresh produce.
- In the U.S., California though known as the “golden state” generates 90% of the country’s broccoli produce. Americans are thinking of renaming California as the “broccoli state.” Just kidding folks!