Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italia) has a reputation as a superfood. It is low in calories and contains a wealth of nutrients and antioxidants that support many aspects of human health. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, alongside vegetables such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale, cabbage and collard greens.
Broccoli is a rich source of vitamins especially vitamin c & vitamin k, minerals such as potassium and calcium, and antioxidants. Antioxidants nutritionally help in the prevention of some chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The body naturally produces molecules called free radicals during processes such as metabolism, and environmental stresses add to these. Free radicals or reactive oxygen species are toxic in large amounts. They can cause cell damage that can lead to cancer and other conditions. Broccoli is one of those vegetables full of powerful antioxidants that helps to protect the body from the effects of free radicals.
Reducing The Risk Of Cancer
Broccoli and other related cruciferous vegetables contain a range of antioxidants, which may help prevent the type of cell damage that leads to cancer. One of these is sulforaphane, which is a sulfur-containing compound that gives broccoli a bitter bite. Some scientists have suggested cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli play a role in “green chemoprevention,” in which people use either the whole plant or extracts from it to help prevent cancer. Cruciferous vegetables also contain indole-3-carbinol. Research from 2019 suggests that this compound may have powerful antitumor properties. Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, turnips, cabbage, arugula, broccoli, daikon, kohlrabi, and watercress may all have similar properties.
Improving Skin Health
Vitamin C helps the body produce collagen, which is the main support system for body cells and organs, including the skin. As an antioxidant, vitamin C can also help prevent skin damage, including wrinkling due to aging. Studies have shown that vitamin C may play a role in preventing or treating skin conditions such as shingles.
Improving Bone Health
Calcium and collagen work together to make strong bones. Over 99% of the body’s calcium is present in the bones and teeth. The body also needs vitamin C to produce collagen. Both are present in broccoli. Vitamin K has a role in blood coagulation, but some experts have also suggested that it may help prevent or treat osteoporosis. People with low vitamin K levels may be more likely to experience problems with bone formation. Getting enough vitamin K from the diet help keep the bones healthy.
When the immune system is under attack, inflammation can occur. Inflammation can be a sign of a passing infection, but it can also occur with chronic autoimmune conditions such as arthritis and type 1 diabetes. People with metabolic syndrome may also have high levels of inflammation. Broccoli have anti-inflammatory effects, according to a 2014 study. Scientists found that the antioxidant effect of sulforaphane in broccoli helped reduce inflammation markers in laboratory tests. They therefore concluded that the nutrients in broccoli could help fight inflammation. In a 2018 study, 40 overweight individuals consumed 30 g of broccoli sprouts per day for 10 weeks. At the end of the study period, the participants had significantly lower levels of inflammation. Also, broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin K as mentioned above, vitamin k is important in wound healing.
Protecting Heart Health
The fibre, potassium, and antioxidants in broccoli may help prevent against CVD. A 2018 population study demonstrated that older women whose diets were rich in cruciferous vegetables had a lower risk of atherosclerosis. This is a condition affecting the arteries that can result in a heart attack or stroke. This benefit may be due to the antioxidant content of cruciferous vegetables, and particularly sulforaphane. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends increasing the intake of potassium while adding less sodium to food. This relaxes the blood vessels and lowers the risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular problems. A cup of broccoli provides almost 5% of a person’s daily need for potassium. One 2017 review found that people who eat the most fibre have a lower risk of CVD and lower levels of blood lipids (fat) than those who consume little fibre.
Broccoli is a highly nutritious vegetables that can be eaten raw or cooked; Broccoli can be eaten by people of all ages and babies aged 6 months + (cooked). The NHS advises introducing veggies to babies (especially vegetables that aren't sweet as it helps the baby gets used to different flavours) and broccoli is a great example of this.
The USDA provides the following nutritional information for 90g of raw, chopped broccoli.
Vitamin C: 81.2mg
Vitamin K: 92.8µg
Broccoli is quite versatile and easy to find in most grocery stores. It's a type of vegetable with a thick, central stalk with green leaves and green florets (some purple varieties). Broccoli is considered one of the most nutritious vegetables and can be a delicious addition to any meal or as a side dish, in casseroles, soups, puree and stir-fry, or eaten raw as a snack; Broccoli central stalks can also be added to dishes (especially soups and casseroles) and therefore avoid any wastage. Avoid overcooking, as it will not only make it less visually appealing but will also reduce the availability of vitamins and minerals.