Broccoli is a green vegetable that’s part of the cruciferous family with cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts and kale. It belongs to the plant species – Brassica oleracea. Broccoli comes in 3 different forms: sprouting broccoli, calabrese broccoli and purple cauliflower and is a nutritional powerhouse full of vitamins and minerals and is super rich in fiber and antioxidants.
We’ve always been told to eat our greens; broccoli is actually one of the best greens you can eat, here are 10 reasons why:
1. Vitamins, Minerals and Bioactive Compounds
Broccoli is a rich source of multiple vitamins and minerals and is loaded with fiber and other bioactive compounds. Broccoli can be a super healthy addition to your diet, whether cooked or eaten raw. However different cooking methods like microwaving, boiling, stir-frying and steaming may alter broccoli’s nutrient composition, particularly reducing vitamin C, soluble protein and sugar. Steaming it is probably one of the healthiest ways to cook it.
One cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli packs:
- Protein: 2.6 gram
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Fiber: 2.4 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
- Vitamin C: 135% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 116% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin B9 (Folate): 14% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 6% of the RDI
- Potassium: 8% of the RDI
- Selenium: 3% of the RDI
2. Potent Antioxidants
Broccoli is home to multiple potent antioxidants that support healthy tissues and cells in the human body. Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize cell damage caused by free radicals, and therefore reduce inflammation. Studies on animals and via test-tubes indicate that sulforaphane is a potent antioxidant in broccoli. Broccoli also contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which prevent cellular damage in eyes.
3. Bioactive Compounds
Several bioactive compounds present in broccoli help to reduce inflammation in body tissues. It is a rich source of one particular phytonutrient called kaempferol. Kaempferol is a flavonoid which has strong anti-inflammatory properties. It can help lower the risk of chronic inflammation.
Cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli, contain bioactive compounds that reduce cell damage caused by chronic diseases. Multiple small studies over the past ten years have shown that eating broccoli may protect our body against different types of cancer:
- Prostate cancer
- Breast cancer
- Gastric cancer or stomach cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Renal cancer/kidney cancer
5. Antioxidants and Fiber
Broccoli’s antioxidant content supports better blood sugar control in people with diabetes. One research study showed a significant decrease in insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes who consumed broccoli sprouts continuously for one month. Broccolo is also a good source of fiber, and higher intake of dietary fiber is associated with lower blood sugar and improved diabetic control.
6. Supports Heart Health in a Variety of Ways
Several studies indicate that broccoli may support heart health in many different ways. Elevated “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels are known to be major risk factors for heart disease, broccoli may play a role in improving these markers. One study found that people treated with broccoli sprout supplements experienced reduced triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol and they also had an increase in “good” HDL cholesterol levels. Specific antioxidants in broccoli also reduce various heart disease risk factors and prevent heart tissue damage.
7. Healthy Digestion and Reduced Constipation
A major benefit of broccoli includes healthy bowel functioning and digestive health due to its richness in fiber and antioxidants. Healthy bacteria and bowel regularity within the colon are two vital components to digestive health and you can maintain a healthy gut function by eating broccoli.
8. Slows Mental Decline and Supports Healthy Brain Function
A study in older adults revealed that one serving of broccoli helps to resist mental decline associated with aging. Compounds like kaempferol and sulforaphane present in broccoli have proved to be good for mental health.
9. Helps Slow the Aging Process
The process of aging is largely attributed to oxidative stress and reduced metabolic functioning throughout your lifespan. Although aging is an unavoidable natural process, diet quality is thought to be a major player in the development of age-related diseases. Sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli, is responsible for slowing down the aging process.
10. Vitamin C Content Supports a Healthy Immune System
Broccoli is loaded with Vitamin C, an essential nutrient for your immune function. The human immune system is complex and requires several nutrients to function properly. Vitamin C plays a crucial role in both the prevention and treatment of various illnesses. A half-cup serving of cooked broccoli boasts 84% of the RDI for vitamin C.
Eat More Broccoli
Broccoli benefits your overall health in many different ways, it can improve blood sugar control, reduce inflammation, boost immunity and promote cardiovascular health. Including this nutritious cruciferous vegetable in your diet as a daily staple will put you one step closer to achieving your health goals!