Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family whose large flowering head and stalk are eaten as a vegetable. The word broccoli comes from the Italian plural of broccolo, which means “the flowering crest of a cabbage”, and is the diminutive form of brocco, meaning “small nail” or “sprout”.
Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Therefore, if you are trying to eat healthier, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli should be at the very top of your grocery list. And if you or your kids are not big fans of broccoli, be sure to read how to incorporate more broccoli into your diet.
Important to realize, Broccoli belongs to the Cruciferous vegetable family. Just but to mention a few, includes kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens, rutabaga, and turnips. These nutrition powerhouses supply loads of nutrients for few calories.
When the word cruciferous is paired with the word vegetable, it does not sound fun. It sounds like the word crucifies …yikes. I get this picture of a bunch of vegetables marching down a path, each carrying a cross. That would be an interesting VeggieTales movie!
Quick tips to enjoy more broccoli:
- Keep it simple and sauté chopped broccoli drizzled with olive oil, cracked black pepper, and minced garlic.
- Chop raw broccoli and add to your next wrap.
- Top your flatbread or pizza with chopped broccoli before roasting.
- Make your own pesto or pasta sauce and add it.
What are the Benefits of Broccoli?
Notably, the cruciferous family of vegetables has generated a lot of interest in the health world due to their cancer-fighting compounds. But, this leads many if not all asking about the benefits of eating broccoli. Good news! You probably already grow at least one (and likely several) types of cruciferous veggies. Well, allow me to take you through.
Broccoli is known to be a hearty and tasty vegetable that is rich in dozens of nutrients. It is said to pack the most nutritional punch of any vegetable. When we think about green vegetables to include in our diet, broccoli is one of the foremost veggies to come to our mind.
Coming from the cabbage family, broccoli can be categorized as an edible green plant. After all, these mini trees are notoriously being pushed off the kid plates around the world, but broccoli’s reputation as one of the healthiest veggies still rings true.
Studies suggest that increased consumption of plant foods like broccoli decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality. It may also promote a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
There are three main varieties of broccoli:
- Calabrese broccoli
- Sprouting broccoli
- Purple cauliflower — despite its name a type of broccoli
Of all of the various health benefits of cruciferous vegetables, the most common theme among them is their power to protect our bodies against many different types of cancers.
Broccoli is a good carb and is high in fiber, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating. Along with this, it is also great for weight loss because it is rich in fiber.
It is an ideal green vegetable to include in your salads and completing your five colored vegetables every day. In addition to this, it also contains proteins, making it suitable for vegetarians that are otherwise not able to complete their protein requirement.
Here are 10 overall benefits;
1. Cholesterol reduction:
Like many whole foods, it’s packed with soluble fiber that draws cholesterol out of your body. This is because the fiber in broccoli helps bind with bile acids in the digestive tract.
Eventually, this makes excreting cholesterol out of our body easy. According to research by the Institute of Food Research, a particular variety of broccoli can help reduce the blood LDL-cholesterol levels by 6 percent.
2. Cancer prevention:
Broccoli shares cancer-fighting and immune-boosting properties with other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
It contains properties that deplete estrogens which usually cause cancer in the body. Research shows that it’s extremely suitable for preventing breast and uterus cancer.
3. Heart health:
The anti-inflammatory properties of sulforaphane, one of the isothiocyanates (ITCs) in broccoli, may be able to prevent (or even reverse) some of the damage to blood vessel linings that can be caused by inflammation due to chronic blood sugar problems.
Broccoli is great for heart health as it contains fibers, fatty acids, and vitamins that help to regulate blood pressure in the body. This also helps in reducing bad cholesterol, hence leading to a healthy heart.
Above all, it helps to protect blood vessels from damaging as well.
4. Reduces allergic reaction and inflammation:
Research has shown the ability of kaempferol to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances on our bodies. It even has significant amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, which are well known as an anti-inflammatory.
Along with this, it can also help people suffering from arthritis as it contains sulforaphane. A chemical that blocks the enzymes that can cause joint destruction and hence lead to inflammation.
5. Powerful antioxidant:
Broccoli contains antioxidants that can help the body in a variety of ways. Not forgetting, it is deeply concentrated with vitamin C, making it great for immunity.
Other than this, broccoli also contains flavonoids that help recycle vitamin C efficiently. It is also enriched with carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and other power-packed antioxidants.
6. Eye care:
Broccoli contains beta-carotene, vitamin A, phosphorous and other vitamins such as B complex, vitamin C and E.
All these rich nutrients are great for eye health as these help in protecting the eyes against macular degeneration, cataract and even repairs the damages done. Especially, by harmful radiations, we go through by being constantly on our phones or being in front of a screen.
Skincare not only includes glow but also its immunity. Since broccoli is a powerhouse of antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin C and minerals such as copper and zinc, broccoli helps in maintaining healthy skin.
This means it also protects the skin from getting infections as well as keep the natural glow of your skin. Broccoli is full of vitamin K, amino acids and folates, making it ideal for maintaining healthy skin immunity.
8. Bone health:
Broccoli contains high levels of both calcium and vitamin K, both of which are important for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis.
Along with calcium, broccoli is also full of other nutrients like magnesium, zinc and phosphorous. Because of these properties, it is extremely suitable for children, elderly and lactating mothers.
Since broccoli is enriched with vitamin C, which has numerous antioxidant properties, it is great for anti-aging. This is because antioxidants help fight the free radicals responsible for aging.
These free radicals often damage the skin. Eating it regularly helps in reducing fine lines, wrinkles, skin issues like acne and even pigmentation.
10 Great for detoxification:
Since broccoli is rich in fiber, it can help get rid of toxins through the digestive tract. Other than this, broccoli is also full of antioxidants that help in overall detoxification of the body.
Broccoli includes special phytonutrients that help in the body’s detox process. This means that the body gets rids of unwanted contaminants. It also contains isothiocyanates, which help in the detox process at the genetic level.
Broccoli is famously one of the least favorite vegetables of many, along with its cruciferous cousin, Brussels sprouts. But what if you have just been storing and preparing it wrong?
Fresh, young broccoli should not taste fibrous, woody, or sulfurous. To make sure you get the best tasting broccoli, store the unwashed vegetable in loose or perforated plastic bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Only wash it right before eating, as wet broccoli can develop mold and become limp.
When left at room temperature, it becomes fibrous and woody. You may not be able to tell by looking, but its flavor continues to diminish the older it gets.
If you are taking blood-thinners, such as Coumadin (warfarin), it is important that you do not suddenly begin to eat more or fewer foods containing vitamin K. In that case, which plays a large role in blood clotting.
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