Broccoli is a member of the Crucifera, a large family of herbaceous plants that includes among others cabbage, cabbage, Chinese cabbage and chard. It is no wonder that broccoli is considered a royal vegetable from any medical category dealing with nutrition. It is rich in antioxidants , anti-tumors, fibers, minerals and vitamins.
Nutritional values and calories:
100 grams of cooked broccoli contain about:
|Vitamin A||120 mg (48% RDA)|
|C vitamin||101 mg. (168% RDA)|
|folate||168 mg (42% RDA)|
|Vitamin B6||0.4 mg (16% RDA)|
|Manganese||0.4 mg (16% RDA)|
|Football||62 mg (6% RDA)|
|Potassium||457 mg (14% RDA)|
|Magnesium||33 mg (8% RDA)|
|Phosphorus||105 mg (10% RDA)|
|Vitamin K||100 mg (276% RDA)|
Like many of their green leafy vegetable friends, broccoli shines when it comes to cancer prevention ( 1 ). It is widely known that proper nutrition helps prevent cancer and the anti-cancer properties of broccoli have been recognized by numerous studies. Even some anti-cancer associations recommend the inclusion of broccoli and other anti-cancer vegetables from the cruciferous family in their diet .
The consumption of broccoli improves the body’s ability to fight cancer cells by providing antioxidants, regulating enzymes and controlling the cell cycle through apoptosis (a sort of programmed cell death at some point in their life cycle that contributes to the maintenance of correct number of them within an organization).
7 reasons to eat broccoli
This nutrient-rich vegetable is an excellent source of a family of phytochemicals called Isothiocyanates (components that inhibit certain phases of carcinogenesis and induce apoptosis of numerous cell lines). In addition, broccoli also contains Sulforaphane and Indole, two types of powerful antioxidants and stimulators of detoxifying enzymes that protect the structure of DNA ( 2 ).
In addition to being a rich natural source of fiber and antioxidants, broccoli is rich in minerals and vitamins including Vitamin B6 which supports the health of mind and heart. It keeps arteries clean and corrects high levels of cholesterol and pressure, thus preventing heart attacks and heart attacks.
Broccoli even has aesthetic benefits: the high levels of Vitamin A in this vegetable are necessary for healthy skin, eyes and even fertility. A derivative of Vitamin A found in broccoli is beta-carotene, essential for liver health, immune function and an anti-tumor function.
- Strong and healthy bones:broccoli is an excellent source ofVitamin K , calcium, magnesium and potassium, each of which is essential for healthy bones, teeth and nails. High levels of Vitamin K and iron are vital for maintaining optimal bone density (furthermore the benefits extend to blood health and energy availability). It is even argued that Vitamin K protects bones better than calcium does and indeed, an increase in Vitamin K in the body positively conditions the calcium balance, the key mineral of bone metabolism. Furthermore in combination with Vitamin D, vitamin K prevents the risk of bone diseases due to the lack of both. Especially in old age, when you are more subject to fractures and loss of bone density, calcium found in broccoli it is essential for the prevention of deficiencies and for the maintenance of strong bones and teeth. Remember that when your body does not find enough calcium, it takes it from the bones to maintain an adequate level in the blood. Include broccoli in your diet and you will naturally prevent problems such as osteoporosis ( 3 ).
- Support for the digestive system: inaddition to being of cardiovascular support, foods rich in fiber are very useful in keeping the digestive system clean and healthy. Taking good amounts of fiber means promoting a more regular bowel movement and keeping the colon healthy. A more alkaline digestive tract prevents disorders such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders (4).
Studies conducted on rats show that those who followed a diet rich in broccoli had less gastric bacterial colonization, less tumor growth and less inflammation, on the contrary they developed a considerable antioxidant activity to increase immunity.
Finally the broccoli support the natural detoxification process of the body thanks to its phytonutrients (glucorafanina, glucobrassicina, gluconasturtiina) that stimulate the functionality of the liver and promote blood cleansing.
- Cardiovascular support:according to some epidemiological studies the intake of fruit and vegetables, especially of vegetables belonging to the cruciferous family, is related to the decrease in the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The rich fiber content of broccoli is excellent for lowering blood cholesterol levels naturally and quickly. The fibers prevent cholesterol from accessing the bloodstream by binding to it and effectively eliminating it from the body.
As for the sulforaphane present in broccoli instead, it significantly improves blood pressure levels by lowering it and supporting the functionality of the liver, while a compound called Lutein prevents the thickening of the arteries and the formation of plaques that could lead to cardiac arrest ( 5 ).
- Anti-tumor:as you have just learned, broccoli is a natural anti-cancer treatment and contains Isocyanates that lower oxidative stress levels by neutralizing cancer cells and fighting toxins.
They do this by reducing the poisonous effects of toxins derived from a poor diet, from environmental exposure to heavy metals and from the aging process. Isocyanates work by stimulating the production of these killer chemical agents that can eliminate cancer cells and speed up the process of elimination of toxins from the body. Several studies show that antioxidant foods, such as those belonging to cruciferous women, inhibit the growth of tumors and block DNA damage so they are particularly useful in decreasing the risk of contracting some forms of cancer such as those in the colon, prostate, intestine, lungs and breast ( 6 ).
However, to combat toxins in the body there are not only Isocyanates. Previously, Sulforafano was also spoken of, a phytochemical component able to prevent diseases by increasing the activation of the necessary enzymes: phase 2 enzymes.
They fight potent toxins and reduce the risk of contracting some of the most deadly forms of cancer, including prostate cancer. Cruciferous women are also important for women, considering that they reduce the risk of purely female tumors such as breast and cervical tumors. This is because the vegetables of this family act on the estrogens in the body by increasing the percentage of good metabolites and reducing that of potentially harmful metabolites.
However, even in smaller quantities, men also have low levels of estrogen in the body, so the benefits of introducing broccoli into their diet also apply to them.
- Weight loss support:being a complex carbohydrate rich in fiber, broccoli is an essential choice for maintaining balanced blood sugar levels and therefore energy. Including it in your diet means losing excess weight quickly. The volume of water contained in broccoli is so high that it takes up space in your stomach, nullifying food cravings and promoting satiety.
- Maintain eye health and vision:the benefits of broccoli are less known when it comes to eye diseases. The high levels of carotenoids present in broccoli ( Lutein and Zeaxanthin) are crucial for maintaining good visual skills especially in old age. These carotenoids help protect night vision and prevent ultraviolet rays from damaging the retina and the cornea. A diet rich in broccoli also provides antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin A necessary for the natural treatment of one of the major causes of blindness in the elderly: the macular degeneration.
- Vitamins for healthy skin:sulforaphane in broccoli helps repair skin damage, while high levels of vitamin A and vitamin C in this plant are essential in preventing skin cancer, skin inflammation, collagen degradation, and wrinkles UV damage.
The benefits of broccoli have been scientifically proven:
Scientific research links the consumption of broccoli and other cruciferous plants to a number of benefits:
- Tumor prevention
- Lowering of pressure and cholesterol
- Slowdown of aging
- Dental and gingival health
- Bone health
- Better healing from scars
- Blood detoxification
- Better visual health
- Liver benefits
- Balanced levels of PH and regulation of blood acidity
- Improvement of hormone levels and adrenal gland function
- Improvement of fertility
- Metabolism speeding up and better weight management
- Improved cognitive function, even in old age
Broccoli has been part of the Italian diet for hundreds of years. Considered valid for cultivation as food since the sixth century BC, this vegetable native to the northern and eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor, usually connects to the ancient Romans, who used to cultivate and consume them in different dishes of their diet. They were considered a food of unique value in terms of beneficial properties and ability to promote a certain longevity.
They were first introduced in England during the mid-18th century, after which they were presented to the United States thanks to a considerable number of Italian immigrants. However, they were not widely known until the early 1920s.
Although it can be considered a young vegetable, now the distribution of broccoli is widespread and its worldwide availability. Used in every kitchen, from Indian to Japanese, from American to French cuisine, today the largest producers of broccoli are China, Italy, India, Mexico, France, Poland and the United States.
How to choose and cook broccoli
Considering that broccoli is on the list of vegetables most prone to chemical contamination it is important, where possible, to opt for supermarkets for the organic alternative. Although you can choose a fresh product from both the farmer and the supermarket, buying frozen organic broccoli is still a good option that will also save you money.
The broccoli head and the inflorescences are the most common parts for feeding. However, every part of the broccoli is edible and rich in nutrients. Many nutrition and wellness experts in fact suggest to consume the stems as they are considered an excellent source of fiber and the green leaves attached to them that possess as many nutrients.
Broccoli is perfectly edible even raw. However it could cause more stomach pain than when it is cooked. Furthermore, as far as cooking is concerned, the broccoli nutrients are delicate and may undergo variations if subjected to high temperatures and long cooking times, therefore it is always preferable to cook it for short periods of time at low temperatures to preserve all the benefits take it with you.
Contraindication and side effects
The concern that the intake of vegetables belonging to this family may be linked to thyroid problems arises around the crucifers. Fortunately, according to some research, the amount of crucifers that could cause hypothyroidism is really considerable.Broccoli, on the other hand, appears to be considered a risk for those who have already been diagnosed with an iodine deficiency.However, in all those cases where there is a delicate thyroid situation, the advice is to limit the hiring and consult your doctor to get a more precise indication on how to supplement your diet.