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With each passing day, more and more people are adopting vegetarian food into their diet because of the health benefits. If you are one among them, then the green tree like veggie that you saw at the grocer’s yesterday can be your new best friend. The green cauliflower that resembles a miniature tree is known as broccoli and has myriad health benefits. Broccoli is an edible green plant that is a powerhouse of nutrients like vitamin C and K, minerals, antioxidants, fibre, potassium, iron and sodium among other things. And do not presume that since it is healthy, it would not be tasty. Broccoli is one of the most flavoursome veggies available in the market today.
What is Broccoli?
Broccoli is an edible vegetable that belongs to the cabbage family and is widely cultivated across the globe for its high nutritional value. The plant is generally green in colour and closely resembles a cauliflower but for its green or purplish flower buds. The word broccoli means the flowering crest of a cabbage and there are around three main cultivars of broccoli, videlicet: Sprouting Broccoli, Calabrese Broccoli and Purple Cauliflower. Here we have listed the top ten health benefits of including broccoli in your everyday diet, its nutritional value and more. Read on to know more.
Benefits of Broccoli
1. Anti- Carcinogen Properties
Recent findings in the medical field have linked broccoli to being a potent veggie in preventing cancer and other diseases. A journal published by researchers of the University of Connecticut suggests that two key nutrients called selenium and sulforaphane that are present in broccoli have anti-carcinogen properties and can be useful in curbing cancer.
2. Detoxifies the Body
A research partly funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences showed that daily consumption of broccoli sprout beverage is effective in ridding the body of air borne pollutants or toxins. 291 men and women from the Jiangsu Province in China became a part of the clinical trial. Glucoraphanin in broccoli gets converted to sulpforaphane upon consumption and is effective in detoxification of the body.
3. Prevents heart diseases
A research conducted at the University of Connecticut suggests that Broccoli is very effective in the prevention of heart related diseases. Broccoli is known to facilitate the blood pumping ability of the heart. Regular intake of broccoli causes the heart to sustain lesser damage in cases of oxygen deprivation to the heart. It also regulates the blood pressure of the body and regulates cholesterol and prevents heart attacks.
4. Lowers Cholesterol Level
Broccoli is known to reduce cholesterol levels of the body as the soluble fibres present in broccoli bind with bile acids and hence draw out bad cholesterol from the body through the digestive tract. Recent findings by the Institute of Food Research concluded that broccoli can lower LDL or bad cholesterol in the body by almost 6 percent.
5. Prevents Diabetes
According to a new study, conducted at the American Association of the Advancement of Science, the extract of broccoli sprouts can be used as a potent weapon to curb Type 2 Diabetes. Sulforaphane, a compound that is found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables reduces glucose production in the liver significantly and hence reverses the disease and its effects.
6. Improves teeth and bone health
A research published by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) suggests that Broccoli can prevent brittle bones and dental problems. Broccoli also is also very helpful in preventing Osteoporosis.
7. Anti allergic properties
Broccoli and Broccoli sprouts are high in quercetin, polyphenols and kaempferols which are anti allergic in nature. Because of its anti inflammatory properties, broccoli is also effective in reducing the inflammation of the airway in asthmatics. A journal published at MDPI showed that quercetin, a compound that is found in broccoli is an antioxidant that scavenges free radicals from the body, inhibits the release of histamines and stimulates the immune system.
8. Rich source of Vitamin C
According to the Dairy Council of California, broccoli has high concentrates of Vitamin C and beta carotene. The Vitamin C in broccoli is twice as much as in one orange. Vitamin C is used to repair tissue damage and reduce free radicals in the body. Vitamin C also has antihistamine properties. Glucoraphanin, a compound found in broccoli helps prevent sun damage.
9. Keeps the stomach healthy
Broccoli is loaded with dietary fibre. According to a research conducted at the University of Liverpool, broccoli boosts gut health. The fibre in broccoli helps harmful bacteria to pass through the bowels, keeping the gastrointestinal tract free of problems. Another research showed that broccoli is helpful in preventing stomach cancer.
10. Anti- Inflammatory properties
A research conducted by the Korean Society of Food Science and Nutrition and published by the NCBI showed that broccoli is a powerhouse of antioxidants and polyphenols. Polyphenols are vital in protecting cells against oxidative damage. They destroy free radicals and have shown metal chelating properties.
Nutritional Values of Broccoli
Nutritional value of 100 gms of Broccoli
|Dietary Fibre||2.6 gm|
|Vitamin A equivalent||31 µg|
|Pantothenic Acid||0.573 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.175 mg|
|Folate B9||63 µg|
|Vitamin C||89.2 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.78 mg|
|Vitamin K||101.6 µg|
Risks or Precautions when consuming Broccoli
- HIV/ AIDS patients are advised to avoid broccoli as it causes gas in the stomach and one can feel bloated and not hungry.
- Consumption of large quantities of broccoli is unhealthy as the amount of antioxidants in the body increases. Although antioxidants are useful in fighting free radicals, in high amounts, they can target the healthy cells of the body and cause more harm than good.
- Some people might be allergic to broccoli. Symptoms like stomach pain, wheezing,, rashes, nausea, itching or nasal congestion can occur if a person is allergic to broccoli.
- If consumed in large quantities, broccoli, like the other members of the cabbage family can cause gas build up in the stomach and intestine and cause bloating and discomfort.
How to Consume Broccoli
Broccoli can be consumed either raw or cooked. Broccoli is flavoursome and tasty and can be prepped in a jiffy. Here are a few ways to consume broccoli
- Steamed Broccoli
Broccoli should be cut into florets and run under cold tap water. Then you can steam the florets in a microwave or stove for a few minutes till tender. Plunge them in ice cold water to prevent overcooking. Add some salt, a little drizzle of olive oil and vinegar and enjoy.
- Roasted Broccoli
Cut the broccoli into florets, wash and pat dry. Then toss them in generous amount of olive oil, salt to taste, black pepper and herbs of your choice. Spread the florets on a baking pan in a single layer and bake at 190◦ centigrade for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven, flip the florets and bake for another 10 minutes at the same temperature. Dig into the crispy goodness.
- Broccoli in Salad:
Broccoli is one of those vegetables that can be consumed raw. Cut a few florets of broccoli and wash them and throw them in a bowl. Add chopped lettuce, chopped carrots, onion, celery and cranberries. Add mayonnaise, olive oil, sugar, salt and vinegar and toss.
Some Fun Facts about Broccoli
- Broccoli is one of the oldest vegetables on the planet. It has been on the planet for the last 2000 years.
- Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable of the Brassicaceae family. Other vegetables in the family are cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and garden cress.
- China and India are the two countries that account for the maximum production of broccoli in the world. Next in line is USA.
- The largest broccoli was grown by John and Mary Evans and it weighed 35 pounds.
Broccoli is a versatile vegetable that should be included in the everyday diet. The vegetable is not only wholesome for your health, it also tastes delicious. We are sure that with so many benefits and delights to your taste buds the veggie is bound to find its way to your heart and stomach.