Broccoli: The Healthiest Super-Green You Should Eat
Broccoli is the tasty super-green that packs the most nutritional punch of any vegetable. Broccoli has numerous health benefits apart from being low in calories and rich in essential vitamins and minerals. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-oxidant properties which prevent allergic reactions, boosts the immune system, protects the skin, lowers blood pressure, eliminates inflammation, fights cancer and improves vision and ocular health. Read on to know the health benefits of eating broccoli!
Broccoli is known as “hari phoolgobi” in Hindi. Broccoli is a versatile vegetable which you can cook in different ways starting from steaming to stir-frying. It is also a part of different cuisines across the world, whether it’s an Indian curry or Italian pasta.
Did You Know?
– A cup of cooked broccoli offers as much vitamin C as an orange and is a good source of beta-carotene.
– Broccoli was custom-bred from the wild cabbage plant (Brassica oleracea), with the sole purpose of cultivating a more palatable vegetable.
– The largest cultivator of broccoli in the world is now China, followed by India.
– Broccoli is very common all over the world, particularly in Europe, America, and Australia.
Broccoli contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, selenium, manganese, tryptophan, fiber, calcium and phosphorus.
In terms of organic compounds, broccoli is a rich source of different phytonutrients such as glucosinolates, flavonoids, carotenoids, and various other antioxidant compounds that boost our health in major ways.
Health Benefits of Eating Broccoli
Let’s delve deeper into some of the mojor health benefits of eating broccoli.
Phytochemicals glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin and glucobrassicin compose a terrific trio in broccoli.
Together, they aid all the steps of the body’s detoxification process, from activation to neutralization and elimination of contaminants. The sulforaphane in broccoli sprout protects the aerobic cells from damage by inducing a network of detoxification enzymes.
Broccoli also contains isothiocyanates, which help in the detox process at the genetic level. Since broccoli is rich in fiber, it can help get rid of toxins through the digestive tract.
Cholesterol Reduction and Heart Health
Broccoli has the ability to lower cholesterol levels due to its high soluble fiber content, which binds with cholesterol in the blood. This binding process makes excretion of cholesterol from the body easier, and therefore reduces overall levels. Broccoli sprouts are more potent in this aspect than mature broccoli.
Broccoli keeps the blood vessels strong, which is one of the ways in which it improves heart health. The sulforaphane in broccoli is also anti-inflammatory and may be able to prevent or reverse damage to the blood vessel linings occuring due to chronic blood sugar problems. The B-complex vitamins in broccoli can also help regulate your body’s homocysteine(an amino acid) levels. Excess homocysteine builds up when a person eats excess red meat, increasing the risk of coronary artery diseases.
Zeaxanthin and lutein, present in broccoli are also known as “the eye vitamins” that have vision strengthening properties. They help prevent serious eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration by repairing damage occuring due to radiation.
Sulforaphane too protects your eyes from UV radiation. Other nutrients like vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, phosphorus, vitamin E and B complex vitamins present in broccoli are also essential for maintaining good eye health.
Several studies show evidence of the protective effects that broccoli and broccoli sprouts have against cancer. Consumption of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, helps reduce the risk of many cancers. This includes lung, colorectal, breast, prostate, pancreatic and gastric cancer. Broccoli contains isothiocyanates, mainly sulforaphane, which act against the formation of cancer at the molecular level by reducing oxidative stress. Studies suggest that these compounds also boost liver detox enzymes, reduce oxidative stress, decrease inflammation, stimulate the immune system and decrease the development and growth of cancer.
Broccoli is rich in dietary fiber which is the primary dietary ingredient in curing almost all stomach disorders. The fiber reduces constipation and also adds to the bulkiness of the food, retains water and forms healthy bowel movements. Magnesium and vitamins present in it also cure acidity, soothe stomach inflammation, and facilitate proper digestion and absorption of nutrients from the food.
A 2010 study published in the Inflammation Researcher journal found that decreasing the influence of allergy-related substances, kaempferol in broccoli also helps to lower the risk of chronic inflammation. Apart from kaempferol, there are other antioxidant phytonutrients such as quercetin, isothiocyanates (especially sulforaphane) and omega-3 fatty acids present in broccoli that help regulate inflammation and allergic reactions.
Quercetin is especially potent in treating allergies and hence is as an active ingredient in most anti-allergic drugs.
How can you include broccoli in your diet?
There are numerous benefits of eating broccoli in both cooked and raw forms. Raw broccoli contains more sulforaphane than the cooked one and is a suitable addition to salads. You can cook broccoli in many ways and easily incorporate it into your diet. After cutting it into smaller florets, you can steam it (either in a microwave or on the stove), bake it or stir-fry it with ginger, garlic and other vegetables. You can add it to your pasta, pizzas, salads or soups to give them an interesting twist. People who cannot eat raw broccoli should try to eat steamed broccoli. This cooking method helps retain most of its nutrients than other methods such as stir-frying, blanching, boiling, sautéing or frying.
Thus, whether you eat it raw or cooked, this vegetable provides your body with a plethora of nutrients. The numerous health benefits of eating broccoli makes it a must-have vegetable in your diet!
Is broccoli your favourite vegetable? If not, read our article once more! Comment below to let us know how you prefer cooking broccoli.
Disclaimer: Some people might have allergies due to broccoli consumption. Consuming high amounts of broccoli may have harmful effects on the thyroid gland in sensitive individuals. Individuals taking blood thinners (or on the drug warfarin) should consult a doctor before increasing broccoli consumption. This is because the high amount of vitamin K present in broccoli may interact with the medication. Overeating broccoli can also cause stomach problems due to its high fiber content.
100 grams of broccoli (raw) provides 34 kilocalories, Carbs- 6.64 grams (sugars- 1.7 grams and dietary fiber- 2.6 grams), protein- 2.82 grams, Fat- 0.37 grams, Sodium- 33 grams, Potassium- 316 grams