Broccoli is not a favourite vegetable for many people even though we know it is good for us.
“I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” George Bush
The same year President Bush made this statement, Johns Hopkins University published a cancer study showing that broccoli prevented the development of tumors by 60% and helped reduce the size of the tumor by 75%!
These findings are just a ‘taste’ of the many health benefits of broccoli. Discover these, the trivia and history behind this plant and some awesome recipes. Unless you are in a select group of individuals (page 4) broccoli is your friend!
9 Health Benefits
1. Cancer Prevention
Broccoli contains glucoraphanin, which with the body processes into the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane. This compound rids the body H. pylori, a bacterium found to highly increase the risk of gastric cancer. Furthermore, broccoli contains indole-3-carbinol, a powerful antioxidant compound, and anti-carcinogen found to not only hinder the growth of breast, cervical and prostate cancer but also boosts liver function.
2. Reducing Cholesterol
Like many whole foods, broccoli is packed with soluble fibre that draws cholesterol out of your body.
3. Reducing Allergy Reaction and Inflammation
Broccoli is a particularly rich source of kaempferol and isothiocyanates, both anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Research has shown the ability of kaempferol to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances on our body. Broccoli even has a significant amount of omega 3 fatty acids which are well known as an anti-inflammatory.
4. Powerful Antioxidant:
Of all the cruciferous vegetables, broccoli stands out as the most concentrated source of a premiere antioxidant nutrient—vitamin C plus the flavonoids that allow the Vitamin C to recycle effectively. Also concentrated in broccoli are the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, other powerful anti-oxidants.
5. Bone Health
Broccoli contains high levels of both calcium and vitamin K, both of which are important for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis.
6. Heart Health
The anti-inflammatory properties of sulforaphane, one of the isothiocyanates (ITCs) in broccoli may be able to prevent (or even reverse) some of the damage to blood vessel linings that can cause inflammation caused by chronic blood sugar problems.
Glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiian, and glucobrassicin are special phytonutrients that support all steps in the body’s detox process, including activation, neutralization, and elimination of unwanted contaminants. These three are in the perfect combination in broccoli. Broccoli also contains isothiocyanates (which you read about in inflammation) which help control the detox process at a genetic level.
8. Diet Aid
Broccoli is smart carb, high in fibre, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating. Furthermore, a cup of broccoli has as much protein as a cup of rice or corn with half the calories.
9. Alkalizes Your Body
Like many vegetables, broccoli helps keep your whole body less acidic which has a host of health benefits. Read the dangers of an over acid body at Balance Your Body.
- Broccoli is really a very large flower top, picked before it blooms.
- Broccoli was developed in Italy, in ancient Roman times, from wild cabbage.
- Broccoli was first introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants but did not become widely known until the 1920s.
- Diana Herrington, chief cook at Real Food for Life, doesn’t like broccoli. That is why I had to write this. : ) She knows it is good for many people and considers it a powerfood.
- Broccoli’s “sister vegetable”, cauliflower, is also a mild anti-allergic. It encourages the production of antibodies and is thought to help protect against allergy, asthma, migraine and depression.
- Just ½ cup/day or 2-2cup serving per week has been shown enough to get some cancer prevention benefits.
- Broccoli sprouts have also recently become popular as a result of research uncovering their high concentration of the anti-cancer phytonutrients, sulforaphane.
- United States is the 3rd largest broccoli producer in the world after China and India and grows over 1 million tons.
- Romanesco broccoli, which has the beautiful flowers pictured below, is really in with the cauliflower species. Its shape like many forms within nature approximates a natural factal. Each bud is composed of a series of smaller buds, all arranged in yet another logarithmic spiral arranged with what is called the golden ratio.
Tips for Use:
IF you are interested in lowering cholesterol, the fiber-related components in broccoli do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it’s easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw broccoli has slightly less effect on cholesterol but more in other areas.
Avoid overcooking broccoli as about half of its beneficial substances may be destroyed in the process. Also, microwaving is thought to remove valuable nutrients from broccoli.
Light steaming is best. Steam the broccoli for just a couple of minutes, until it turns bright green. Stop cooking while still has a bit of firmness to it.
- Add broccoli and cauliflower to soups and stews.
- Eat broccoli or cauliflower raw or lightly steamed with dip or pour a bit of vinaigrette over it.
- Chop lightly steamed broccoli and cauliflower and add to a pasta salad.
- Toss pasta with olive oil, pine nuts and steamed broccoli florets. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Purée cooked broccoli and cauliflower, then combine with seasonings of your choice to make a simple, yet delicious, soup.
- Add broccoli florets and chopped stalks to omelettes.
For significant anticancer benefits some researchers are recommending 3 cups per day. This means don’t just use a garnish – cook up a LOT.
Just For Fun;
Jerry Seinfeld in his famous quote to Newman: “Hold it, Newman, you wouldn’t eat broccoli if it was deep fried in chocolate sauce.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQEhmMd1fmA Broccoli song by Sesame street
Broccoli contains goitrogens, naturally-occurring substances that can interfere with function of the thyroid gland.
If you are healthy there is no risk, but certain individuals who have thyroid problems may be advised by their healthcare practitioner to limit excessive consumption of foods that contain these compounds. Cooking seems to inactivate the goitrogenic compounds found in food so steaming of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli makes good sense.
Steamed Vegetables: If you make them just right – it’s a delightful feast!
Chinese Vegetables: Nobody does vegetables better than the Chinese!