loading...

Health Benefits of Broccoli: Nutrition Facts and Recipes – EatingWell

7 minutes, 35 seconds Read
image

With its tree-like florets and vibrant green hue, broccoli is not only visually appealing but also a nutritional gem. As a member of the Brassicaceae family, alongside cauliflower, kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, it’s a part of a vegetable tribe renowned for its many health-promoting properties. Like its relatives, broccoli is brimming with several essential nutrients, including vitamin C, K, folate and fiber.

While it may be an acquired taste for some, it is often enjoyed in various culinary creations, from stir-fries and salads to soups and casseroles. Whether you’re a broccoli enthusiast or skeptic, this nutrient-rich and versatile green vegetable certainly deserves a spot on your weekly menu. Read on to learn how regular broccoli consumption can benefit your overall health and well-being.

Health Benefits of Broccoli

May Lower Your Risk of Cancer

Broccoli is packed with powerful plant compounds that may impart anti-cancer benefits. When cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are chopped or chewed, they release a phytochemical called sulforaphane, which is well-known for its cancer-fighting abilities, says Rhyan Geiger, RD, the Phoenix Vegan Dietitian. Remarkably, this potent substance has been linked to a reduced risk of various cancers, including breast, prostate, skin, colon, bladder and oral cancers. Research has revealed sulforaphane’s role in supporting detoxification pathways, aiding in eliminating cancer-causing chemicals and inhibiting cancer cell growth. Therefore, regularly enjoying sulforaphane-rich broccoli may be a proactive way to protect yourself against cancer development.

May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Heart disease stands as the leading cause of death in the United States, impacting individuals across diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Geiger notes that incorporating more vegetables into your diet, such as broccoli, can mitigate the risk of cardiovascular disease. Bursting with fiber, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, broccoli has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure and support cardiac function. In fact, a study from the Journal of the American Heart Association found that consuming more cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, is associated with a lower risk of atherosclerosis or the buildup of plaque in arteries, explains Geiger.

May Support Your Immune System

Broccoli offers a rich source of vitamins and antioxidants to help strengthen your immune system’s defenses against germs and harmful substances. Most notably, one cup of chopped broccoli contains 90% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C, providing more of this immune-supporting nutrient than a medium-sized orange. In addition, research has shown that the sulforaphane in broccoli activates antioxidant enzymes and reduces inflammatory molecules, which helps combat bacterial and viral infections.

May Improve Your Bone Health

Regular consumption of broccoli is excellent for bone health, thanks to its rich vitamin and mineral content. One half-cup serving of cooked broccoli boasts 92% of the DV for vitamin K, which plays a pivotal role in activating proteins involved in bone mineralization. Additionally, Grieger highlights that milk isn’t the only source of calcium. Surprisingly, raw broccoli offers about 43 milligrams (3% of the DV) of calcium per cup, providing a small but beneficial boost of this bone-strengthening mineral.

May Support Your Gut Health

Broccoli is a good source of prebiotic fiber, which nourishes the beneficial bacteria in your gut and helps protect your intestinal lining. Specifically, broccoli promotes a healthy balance of gut bacteria by improving the ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes, the two major groups of bacteria that inhabit your gut. The dietary fiber in broccoli also encourages regular bowel movements, helping to prevent constipation, Gieger adds. Therefore, incorporating broccoli into your weekly meals is a great way to support your digestive health.

May Enhance Your Skin Health

As the largest organ, the skin protects the entire body from harmful environmental hazards. One of these hazards is prolonged ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can lead to DNA damage, premature skin aging and even skin cancer.

While topical sunscreens and sun-shielding clothes are important external measures for protecting your skin, a diet filled with antioxidant-rich foods can also offer UV protection. Broccoli, in particular, contains sulforaphane, lutein, kaempferol and quercetin, which are plant compounds that have been shown to lessen the negative effects of UV radiation. Therefore, regularly eating broccoli can help guard the skin from the inside out.

May Reduce Inflammation in Your Body

Chronic inflammation is involved in the onset and progression of many chronic diseases. As such, incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like broccoli may help lower the risk of disease development. Sulforaphane is one of the primary compounds in broccoli that exhibits strong anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that it can help reduce the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins that initiate and regulate inflammation in the body).

Broccoli Nutrition Facts

As mentioned above, broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and sulforaphane. This cruciferous vegetable also contains trace amounts of calcium and potassium. One cup (91 grams) of raw, chopped broccoli provides:

  • Calories: 31
  • Total Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2 g
  • Total Sugars: 2g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Total Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 30 mg
  • Vitamin C: 81 mg (90% of DV)
  • Vitamin K: 93 µg (78% of Daily Value)
  • Vitamin A: 28 µg (3% of DV)
  • Folate: 57 µg (14% of DV)
  • Calcium: 43 mg (3% DV)
  • Potassium: 288 mg (6% of DV)

*The sugars in broccoli are naturally occurring ones.

Potential Downsides and Precautions

For most folks, broccoli is a safe addition to a well-balanced diet, rarely causing significant side effects or adverse reactions. However, broccoli contains high amounts of vitamin K, which can interact with anti-coagulant medications like warfarin. For this reason, it’s important for people taking blood-thinning medications to consume the same amount of vitamin K from foods and supplements every day. This consistency is crucial because changes in vitamin K intake can alter the medication’s effectiveness. However, there are newer anti-coagulant medications that may not interact with vitamin K. Therefore, you should always speak with your doctor before making dietary changes. Additionally, some people may experience digestive symptoms when consuming cruciferous vegetables, such as gas and abdominal distention.

Best Ways to Enjoy Broccoli

Broccoli’s uniquely bitter yet sweet taste makes it an ideal vegetable to include in a wide variety of dishes. Below are several ways to prepare broccoli to get the most out of its delicious flavor.

Steam

Place your broccoli in a steamer for a bright and tender side dish that pairs beautifully with any meal. But be sure to avoid overcooking it, or you’ll end up with mushy florets. Instead, Geiger recommends lightly steaming your broccoli for 5 minutes to retain its texture and nutritional value. Try our Broccoli with Creamy Parmesan Sauce the next time you need a quick and tasty vegetable to add to your lunch or dinner.

Blanch

This tried-and-true method of briefly submerging your florets in boiling water and then cooling them in an ice bath gives broccoli a radiant green color and crisp texture. Need recipe inspiration? Blanched broccoli tastes incredible in our Broccoli & Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Salad.

Sauté

Pour a tablespoon of oil into a skillet, toss in a serving of broccoli and add your favorite seasonings to create a tasty sautéed side dish. Or whip up our Sauteed Broccoli & Kale with Toasted Garlic Butter for a delectable vegetable medley that is bursting with flavor.

Roast

If you want to take your broccoli to the next level, roasting it is the way to go. This cooking method caramelizes the edges of the florets, creating a depth of flavor and adding a satisfying crunch that will impress even the pickiest of eaters. Preheat your oven and slide in a tray of our Balsamic & Parmesan Roasted Broccoli to complement your main course.

Raw

On those busy days when you can’t find time to cook enough vegetables, you can still enjoy a serving of raw broccoli. All you have to do is grab a knife and cut up the florets to toss into our highly-rated Cranberry-Almond Broccoli Salad.

The Bottom Line

When you consume broccoli regularly, you provide your body with a plethora of essential vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that may improve various aspects of your health. Whether you’re looking to support your heart, immune, bone, gut or skin health, broccoli is a great vegetable to keep on rotation throughout the week. It can even help combat cancer and inflammation. With its remarkable health benefits and culinary versatility, broccoli truly earns its place as a staple in a well-balanced diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • “Absolutely! The general recommendation is that adults aim to eat 2-3 cups of vegetables per day. Most people don’t get enough vegetables, so adding broccoli to the diet can be a great way to increase total vegetable intake,” says Grieger.

  • Both raw and cooked broccoli are healthy options. The most important thing is to prepare your broccoli in a way that you will enjoy, ensuring you eat it regularly to reap its true health benefits. However, Grieger recommends eating raw or lightly steamed to retain the most nutrients.

  • While many people prefer to consume broccoli florets, the stems are loaded with many of the same beneficial nutrients and plant compounds. So instead of throwing them away, peel and thinly slice them to enjoy in salads, stir-fries or as a raw snack with your favorite dip.

This post was originally published on 3rd party site mentioned in the title of this site

Similar Posts

0
    0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop
    Call