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What is Broccoli Good for? Benefits & What You Need To Avoid

Broccoli is together with its relatives cabbage, kale, cauliflower and brussel sprouts known among the healthies vegetables you can eat. They are sometimes referred to as "super veggies".

Raw and properly cooked broccoli provide real health benefits for both adults and children.

Broccoli has a high fiber content and is an excellent source for Vitamin A, C, K, Folate, Calcium and Manganese.

Studies show that compounds found in broccoli

  • Have anti-cancer properties
  • Act anti-inflammatory
  • Fight oxidative stress
  • Can help with allergies
  • Can also act preventatively in regard to adult diabetes

In this article we'll go deep into what makes broccoli a must have for you and how you can get the most out of it.




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What Is Broccoli And Where Does It Come From?

Broccoli is a vegetable that is categorized in the subgroup dark green vegetables. It's a member of the cabbage family and its name is derived from the Italian word "broccolo," meaning the flowering top of a cabbage.

Records from about 2000 years ago indicate that the broccoli originates from Italy, from the city Calabria. This has not been entirely proven but where ever it comes from it’s an amazing veggie.

Our most common broccoli that we cultivate today is the Calabrese broccoli, which is named after the city.

Why Broccoli Is So Good For You

Boiled for a short while. Crisp and delicious!

Broccoli is rich in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Raw broccoli has emerged as one of the healthiest foods. Like cauliflower and cabbage, it's low in calories and provides a lot of nutrition per serving.

When broccoli is consumed as a part of a balanced diet, it may protect against cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic ailments.

Broccoli is also an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, calcium and manganese.

Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet. Broccoli has a high fiber content. Not only in soluble fiber, but insoluble as well. Since your body needs both types, broccoli can fulfill both needs.

Broccoli contains the flavonoid "kaempferol." Kaempferol is an anti-inflammatory, helping to fight against cancer and heart disease, and has been shown to be preventative in adult diabetes onset.

This kaempferol connection might lead to future research on the benefits of broccoli for a hypoallergenic diet because the kaempferol are known for their anti-allergic immune response.

According to a study, broccoli sprout weakens nasal allergic response. It also reduces the effects of particulate pollution on allergic disease and asthma which might help cure allergies.

Broccoli Is Packed With Sulforaphane

Sulforaphane is a compound that is found in broccoli and other cruciferous plants like, cauliflower and cabbage. When it comes to broccoli it’s the sprouts that have the highest amount of sulforaphane.

The broccoli sprouts contain 20% more glucoraphanin than regular broccoli. Glucoraphanin is the most concentrated form of sulforaphane. To get every little bit of it, you should eat broccoli raw. Perhaps have them in a salad or on a sandwich.

Broccoli sulforaphane content is responsible for most of its health benefits. According to a 2018 study published in the journal Oncotarget, sulforaphane exhibits anti-cancer properties. This compound sulforaphane has been shown to inhibit colorectal cancer cell growth and signaling while preventing them from spreading throughout the body.

Another study, publiched in the Journal of Functional Foods in 2015, showed that sulforaphane can fight inflammation and oxidative stress.

Broccoli may protect against heart disease. Oxidative stress plays a major role in the cardiac disorders. Sulforaphane found in cruciferous vegetables is an indirect antioxidant that can serve as a defense mechanism against oxidative stress.

A few studies have shown that the bioactive components of cruciferous vegetables can have beneficial effects on biomarkers of cancer-related processes in people, according to National Cancer Institute. Higher consumption of vegetables in general may protect against some diseases, including some types of cancer.

The sulforaphane shows chemopreventive properties and is a potential anti-cancer compound. Unlike anti-cancer drugs, sulforaphane destroys cancer cells without causing damage to healthy cells and tissues.




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Broccoli Should Be One Of The First Foods You Give To Your Child

Delicious and extremely healthy!

In Sweden the Swedish authority's recommend broccoli as one of the first foods a child should eat when you start to giving him or her food instead of breast milk.

Just boil the broccoli and mash it to a pure with some of the broth from cooking, and if you want to make it more luxurious and also remind your baby of the flavor, you can mix in some breast milk.

Broccoli is good for children and adults of all ages.

But children can sometimes be a bit tricky when it comes to eating vegetables. If so, there are ways to make broccoli more fun than just a green soggy veggie on the plate.

How to spice up your broccoli

There are several things you can do to spice up your broccoli dishes. Not just for your children but for your whole family.

One thing that is usually very appreciated by many is a veggie plate with dip. You take broccoli and other vegetables that you like and cut them in to bite size and then serve them with a nice creamy dip.

Another thing that can spice up the broccoli is to have it in the food, not just as a side dish. For example in a gratin or in a pasta sauce.

You can also make a mash of broccoli just by boiling it some and then mix it with some butter and salt.

Some melted cheese on top of some broccoli might also do the trick.

What Is Broccoli Rabe?

Broccoli, broccolini, and broccoflower are all part of the same botanical family. Broccoli rabe is really not a broccoli despite its name. Broccoli rabe is however, much more closely related to turnips. Broccoli rabes real name is Rapini.

The edible parts are the leaves, buds, and stems. The buds somewhat resemble broccoli, but do not form a large head. Rabe is known for its slightly bitter taste.




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What Does Broccoli Look Like?

Broccoli, the gift that keeps on giving!

Broccoli is a green vegetable that looks like a small tree. They have the stems, branches and the big crown on top.

Even when you cut the broccoli, the small pieces in them self also look like little trees.

Imagine your children becoming giants, during dinner, and eating whole forests!

Broccoli sprouts are three- to four-day-old broccoli plants that look like alfalfa sprouts.

The spouts don’t taste like broccoli, but tastes more like radishes. They work perfectly in a salad.

Here's How You Select The Right Broccoli

Broccoli is available all the year round in supermarkets, but it’s important to ensure that the broccoli you buy is fresh.

Select heads that are tight and firm. The buds on the broccoli should be closed, and the whole package shifting between dark and bright green. Avoid the yellowish ones.

You should always keep the broccoli in the fridge, and consume it within a few days, before it begins to turn yellow or lighter green.

Yellowing florets or woody stalks with holes at the base or open bud clusters indicate that the vegetable is not fresh and should be avoided.

What To Avoid When Storing And Preparing Your Broccoli

There are a few things you need to avoid in order to to get the best benefits from your broccoli. From how you store it, to how you should cook it.

Storing Your Broccoli Properly

Broccoli should be kept unwashed in a plastic bag, removing as much air from the bag as possible.

It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Do not wash it before storing as it might get spoiled due to the exposure to water.




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How To Properly Prepare Your Broccoli

When cooking your broccoli you need to make sure to not overcook it.

Much of the nutrients, especially the most important ones are destroyed by the prolonged heat.

And also, overcooked broccoli is really boring and tasteless!

To avoid destroying the enzyme that is responsible for the anti-cancerous benefits of broccoli you shouldn't cook it for longer than about 2 to 3 minutes. This will also preserve a lot of the other nutrients that are heat sensitive.

Raw Broccoli: All The Nutrients But Don't Overdo It

One way to get all the nutrients from a broccoli is to eat it raw. But there are many things you can do with broccoli to vary both the taste and texture. It can easily become boring to eat the same broccoli every time.

It is recommended that you shouldn’t eat raw broccoli in large doses. This because it contains goitrogenic compounds that can suppress thyroid function in the long term. This can occur when you eat very large doses, normal consumption is believed to not be a problem.

How To Properly Cook Your Broccoli

Here are three of the best ways to prepare your broccoli if you don’t want to eat it raw but still preserve as many of the health benefits of broccoli as possible.

Cooking

Before you cook broccoli, you should wash and rins it in cold running water. Cut the florets into quarters for uniform cooking. The stems and florets are the edible portions. So, the stem should be peeled and cut into slices. Let is cook for only 2-3 minutes.

Steaming

Steamed broccoli is a great way to preserve its nutritional value. Fill a pot with a few inches of water and place a steamer basket on top, such that the water does not touch the bottom of the steamer basket. Cover the pot and steam on medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes until they become tender.

Blanching

Fill a bowl with ice water and bring it next to the stove. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a tablespoon of salt and broccoli florets. Cook for 1 to 1 ½ minutes until the florets turn tender and crisp. After they’ve turned tender and crisp, put them into the ice cold water for just a short while. You can also use the same method for the stems.

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Conclusion: You Should Add Broccoli To Your Diet, Today!

Broccoli contains a lot of nutrients and has the potential to aid in cancer treatment. That alone is amazing!

Broccoli sprouts have even higher amounts of glucoraphanin, the main nutrient responsible for most of the beneficial properties than the regular broccoli. About 20% more.

Broccoli has shown to be anti-inflammatory, to be able to help against heart disease, has been shown to be preventative in adult diabetes and might also help cure allergies.

Broccoli is amazing. I seldom eat it raw, but after reading all the research for this article, I just have to start doing that.

I usually cook my broccoli, and I too have overcooked it from time to time. Our children all love broccoli even if it’s overcooked so I haven’t been all that careful with it.

But, from now on, that’s about to change. No more overcooked broccoli in our house!




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Frequently asked question about broccoli

What are the healthiest ways to prepare broccoli?

Cooking (not longer than 2-3 minutes), Steaming (4-5 minutes) and Blanching (1-1.5 minutes).

Is Broccoli good for babies?

Broccoli is very good for babies. In Sweden the Swedish authority's recommend broccoli as one of the first foods a baby should eat when you start to give your baby food instead of breast milk.

How to know if a broccoli is fresh and which ones to avoid?

Select heads that are tight and firm. The buds on the broccoli should be closed, and the whole package shifting between dark and bright green. Avoid the yellowish ones. Yellowing florets or woody stalks with holes at the base or open bud clusters indicate that the vegetable is not fresh and should be avoided.

What makes broccoli one of the healthiest vegetables?

Sulforaphane, which you find in broccoli and other cruciferous plants like, cauliflower and cabbage in the form of glucoraphanin, have been shown to exhibit anti-cancer properties, is able to fight inflammation and oxidative stress. Broccoli sprouts have even higher glucoraphanin content.

Article written by,

Sara Niemelä

co-founder Care Omnia, Head Content Creator

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), University Diploma in Educational Information and Communication Technology, Bachelor of Science in Social Work