Broccoli has a reputation as a superfood. It is low in calories but provides a wealth of nutrients and antioxidants that support many aspects of human health.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, alongside kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens, rutabaga, and turnips.
In this post, learn more about nutritional content of broccoli, several possible health benefits, and some tips for cooking and serving it.
During natural processes like metabolism, the body creates molecules called free radicals, and environmental stresses contribute to these. Free radicals, or reactive oxygen species, are toxic in large amounts. They can cause damage to cells that can contribute to cancer and other conditions.
A lot of them can be removed by the body, but dietary antioxidants can help. Read more here about antioxidants.
The parts below address in more detail the common health benefits of broccoli.
Lowering the cancer risk
A number of antioxidants are present in cruciferous vegetables, which can help avoid the form of cell damage that leads to cancer.
One of these is sulforaphane, a sulfur-containing compound that gives a bitter bite to cruciferous vegetables.
Some studies also proposed that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli can play a role in “green chemoprevention,” where either the whole plant or extracts from it are used by individuals to help prevent cancer.
Indole-3-carbinol also contains cruciferous vegetables. Analysis from 2019 shows that this substance could have significant antitumor properties.
Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, turnips, cabbage, arugula, broccolini, daikon, kohlrabi, and watercress may all have similar properties.
Enhancing bone protection
In order to make healthy bones, calcium and collagen work together. In the bones and teeth, about 99 percent of the body’s calcium is present. In order to produce collagen, the body also requires vitamin C. In broccoli, both are present.
Vitamin K plays a part in blood coagulation, but it has also been suggested by certain researchers to help prevent or treat osteoporosis. People with low levels of vitamin K may be more likely to suffer bone formation issues. It can help to keep your bones safe by having enough vitamin K from your diet.
A cup of broccoli weighing about 76 grams (g) provides 3 percent to 3.5 percent of a person’s daily need for calcium, 45-54 percent of their daily need for vitamin C, and 64-86 percent of their daily need for vitamin K, depending on their age and sex, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Strengthening Immune Health
An antioxidant that has a host of benefits is vitamin C.
It helps the immune system and can help reduce cancer, cataracts, anemia, and cardiovascular disease (CVD). It can also help reduce the effects of the common cold in supplement form and shorten the time a cold lasts.
Enhancing skin health
Vitamin C enables collagen to be produced by the body, which is the primary support system for body cells and organs, including the skin. Vitamin C can also help avoid skin damage as an antioxidant, including wrinkling due to ageing.
A 76 g cup of broccoli offers 5.4 percent to 7.1 percent of the daily fiber allowance of a person.
Inflammation may occur while the immune system is under attack.
Inflammation may be a symptom of a passing infection, but with chronic autoimmune diseases including arthritis and type 1 diabetes, it can also occur. High inflammation levels can also occur in people with metabolic syndrome.
According to a 2014 study, broccoli may have anti-inflammatory impact. Scientists observed that in laboratory studies, the antioxidant activity of sulforaphane in broccoli helped decrease inflammatory markers. They concluded, therefore, that the nutrients in broccoli could help combat inflammation.
In a 2018 report, for 10 weeks, 40 otherwise stable individuals with obesity ate 30 g of broccoli sprouts per day. The participants had slightly lower levels of inflammation at the end of the study period.
Reducing diabetes risk
One 2018 review has showed that persons who consume a high fiber diet are less likely than people who eat little fiber to develop type 2 diabetes. In people with diabetes, fiber can also help decrease blood sugar levels.
Protecting cardiovascular health
In broccoli, the fiber, potassium, and antioxidants can help prevent CVD.
A 2018 population analysis found that there was a reduced chance of atherosclerosis in older women whose diets were high in cruciferous vegetables. This is a condition affecting the arteries that can lead to a stroke or heart attack. This advantage may be due to the antioxidant content, especially sulforaphane, of cruciferous vegetables.
The American Heart Association (AHA) advises that potassium intake be increased and less sodium is added to food. This relaxes the blood vessels and decreases the risk of elevated blood pressure, which can lead to cardiovascular problems such as atherosclerosis and others.
Almost 5% of a person’s daily need for potassium is given by a cup of broccoli.
One 2017 review found that individuals who eat the most fiber have a lower risk of CVD and lower blood lipid (fat) levels than those who eat little fiber.
Which foods can help with high blood pressure prevention? Found out here.
According to the USDA, the table below lists the quantity of each nutrient in one cup of broccoli, weighing about 76 g.
It also indicates, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, how much an adult requires for each nutrient. According to sex and age, needs differ.
|Nutrient||Amount in 1 cup broccoli (76g)||Daily adult requirement|
|Carbohydrate (g)||4.78 g, including 1 g of sugar||130|
|Calcium (milligrams [mg])||35||1,000–1,200|
|Vitamin C (mg)||40.5||75–90|
|Folate (micrograms [mcg])||49.4||400|
|Vitamin A (mcg)||6.08||700–900|
|Beta-carotene (mcg)||70.7||No data|
|Lutein and zeaxanthin (mcg)||566 mcg||No data|
|Vitamin E (mg)||0.11||15|
|Vitamin K (mcg)||77.5||90–120|
Various B vitamins, calcium, copper, selenium, and a number of antioxidants are often found in broccoli.
People should try to pick pieces that are tight and firm to the touch and dark green in color when purchasing broccoli. Avoid limp pieces, turning yellow, or wilting pieces.
Fresh, young broccoli should not taste fibrous, woody, or sulfurous. If an individual stores it at room temperature or for a long time, broccoli may become woody or fibrous.
Store unwashed broccoli in loose or perforated bags in the refrigerator’s crisp drawer. Just before consuming it, people can just wash broccoli, since wet broccoli will grow mold and become limp.
Broccoli is a great source of vitamin K, but this may conflict with the use of blood-thinning medications like warfarin for some people (Coumadin). People taking these medications should not unexpectedly increase their consumption of foods high in vitamin K, such as broccoli.
Some individuals may also have an allergic response to the substances present in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. They can seek medical attention if a person develops hives, swelling, or trouble breathing after eating broccoli. It can be life threatening if anaphylaxis occurs.
Some vegetables also contain traces of pesticides, but broccoli features on the 2019 list of 15 “clean” vegetables from the Environmental Working Group. This ensures that there’s a low chance of contamination.
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