Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable rich in various nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. It’s especially known for its high level of sulforaphane, a potent antioxidant that’s also present in other cruciferous vegetables, including kale, cauliflower, and cabbage. However, sulforaphane is not the only essential nutrient in broccoli. Stick with me as I take you through broccoli nutrition facts, including the nutrient composition in raw and cooked broccoli and whether one is better than the other.
Broccoli Nutrition Facts
This section will focus on the nutritional content of raw and cooked broccoli to help you make the right decision, especially when focusing on specific nutrients.
A cup of raw broccoli contains 31 calories, while a cup of cooked broccoli contains 55 calories. But what’s a calorie, and why is it important?
Like a teaspoon or a measuring cup, a calorie is a unit that measures how much energy is in a particular food or drink. In other words, a calorie measures the stored energy in food that the body releases when digesting or breaking down that food.
Calories play an important role in fueling various metabolic processes that sustains life. Therefore, meeting your daily caloric requirements in addition to other nutrients is essential for promoting normal body functions.
Caloric needs may vary from person to person depending on various factors like physical activity level, age, body composition, weight, and medical conditions.
That being said, consuming more calories than you need can cause your body to store the extra amount as fat, leading to weight gain.
Likewise, if you want to lose weight, going down on the calories you eat can create a caloric deficit, causing your body to use stored energy for fuel, thus promoting weight loss.
Both raw and cooked broccoli is considered low-carb and can be very beneficial for your weight loss journey. Besides, broccoli is also rich in fiber that can keep you full longer, thus regulating your appetite and preventing cravings that can compromise your weight loss goals.
2. Dietary fiber
Fiber is the portion of plant-based food that the body cannot completely break down during digestion. So it moves along the digestive tract untouched. While this may seem like nothing important, dietary fiber is very beneficial for the gut and overall health and well-being.
Broccoli, in particular, contains a very important type of fiber known as prebiotic fiber. This form acts as food for your gut bacteria, helping them grow and diversify. As a result, you end up with a healthy microbiome that’s strong enough to suppress the effects of bad bacteria in the gut and thus prevent disease.
Fiber also promotes bowel movements which promote regularity and prevent constipation. It also bulks the stool, meaning it helps the stool to form, and thus can be very beneficial in managing diarrhea.
Additionally, fiber can help eliminate wastes and toxins from the body and prevent cholesterol absorption into the body, helping you maintain healthy levels.
Here are the daily fiber intake recommendations according to the American Heart Association:
- Women under 50: 25-28 grams per day
- Men under 50: 31-34 grams per day
- Women at 51and above: 22 grams per day
- Men at 51 and above: 28 grams per day
With these recommendations in mind, a single serving of raw or cooked broccoli may not be sufficient for the day, but it can boost your intake.
Besides, I don’t think you’re planning to eat broccoli alone, so pair it with other healthy sources of fiber like legumes and whole grains, etc., or even cook it with other fiber-rich vegetables.
Protein is a macronutrient needed in high amounts for numerous functions, including speeding up recovery after an injury or intense exercise, building muscle mass, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling hunger, building strong bones, and balancing hormones.
Protein can also boost the immune system. This is because protein comprises building blocks, also known as amino acids, that help form key immune players such as antibodies that protect the body against disease-causing pathogens like bacteria and viruses.
That’s why a deficiency in this nutrient has been associated with an impaired immune system with increased susceptibility to infections.
Broccoli Nutrition Facts: Vitamins
4. Vitamin K
Vitamin K is the highest vitamin in broccoli, with a cup of chopped raw broccoli providing up to 116% of your daily needs and the cooked version 276% of the same. This means a single cup of raw or cooked broccoli is enough to keep your body running optimally.
Vitamin K is essential for various processes, including bone formation and maintenance, regulating blood clotting processes, protecting the immune system, promoting wound healing, and regulating blood sugar levels.
However, people on blood thinning medications such as warfarin should eat fewer vitamin K-rich foods like broccoli. Others may include asparagus, brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, green onion, and spinach.
This is because vitamin K can counteract the effects of these medications.
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is another important nutrient that can be found in plenty in both cooked and raw broccoli. However, raw broccoli contains a slightly higher amount at 135% of the daily requirement compared to 168% in cooked spinach.
Nonetheless, cooking doesn’t lower the amount that much, so you can still enjoy your cooked broccoli without worry.
Getting enough vitamin C can help boost your immune system, promote skin health, increase bone density, lower blood pressure, and boost your antioxidant levels.
6. Vitamin A
Also known as retinol, vitamin A is a fat-soluble essential nutrient needed for good vision, cell division, growth, reproduction, and immunity.
A cup of chopped raw broccoli can give you up to 11% of what you need daily, while cooked broccoli contains a very high amount of 48% for the same serving.
Another name for folate is vitamin B9. It’s a water-soluble vitamin naturally found in many foods, including dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and peas. Folate helps the body form DNA and RNA as well as promotes protein metabolism.
It also plays an important role in breaking down the amino acid homocysteine into harmless compounds that the body can assimilate. Too much homocysteine in the blood means you are deficient in folate, vitamin B6, or vitamin B12. It has also been shown to increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and dementia.
So consuming foods rich in this nutrient can play an important role in preventing these chronic conditions.
In addition, folate is needed in pregnant women as it helps the baby’s neural tube develop into their brain and spinal cord, thus preventing congenital disabilities such as spina bifida. So every pregnant woman should aim to incorporate more vitamin B9 into their diet for a smooth pregnancy and healthy baby.
Broccoli Nutrition Facts: Minerals
Manganese is an essential trace mineral needed for the normal functioning of your nervous system and the brain. It’s also needed to form connective tissues, blood clotting factors, bones, and sex hormones.
In addition, it supports the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats and regulates blood sugar.
Manganese is present in most foods, including legumes, nuts, leafy greens, fruits, and whole grains. This means a deficiency is quite rare, but when it happens, manganese deficiency can cause bone demineralization, skin rashes, poor growth in children, increased premenstrual pain, and hair depigmentation.
Phosphorus is another essential mineral found in every cell in the human body.
It is required for the proper functioning of cells, tissues, and organs. Phosphorus is involved in the structure and function of many enzymes and plays a role in energy metabolism. It is also necessary for the development and maintenance of bones and teeth.
Magnesium is an important mineral in the body that helps regulate different bodily functions. It is involved in energy production, brain function, DNA synthesis, and protein synthesis. It also helps to maintain normal nerve and muscle function.
Magnesium deficiency can lead to a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
Calcium is one of the most important minerals in the body. It is essential for bone and teeth health and plays a role in muscle contraction, nerve function, and blood clotting. Most calcium in the body is stored in the bones and teeth, where it provides structure and strength.
Iron is a mineral necessary for the formation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood, and myoglobin, which carries oxygen in the muscles. It is also needed for the proper function of enzymes involved in energy metabolism and cellular respiration. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, fatigue, and other issues.
Zinc is vital for boosting metabolism and supporting the immune system. It’s also essential for cell growth and division, wound healing, and can support your sense of smell and taste.
Zinc deficiency can lead to a number of problems, including poor appetite, impotence, hair loss, skin problems, diarrhea, and impaired immunity. Zinc deficiency can also cause problems during pregnancy and childhood development.
Broccoli Nutrition Facts: Antioxidants
Besides the nutrients discussed above, broccoli is also a good source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are plant compounds that fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can react and cause cell damage. This can increase the risk of developing various chronic conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
By consuming antioxidant-rich foods, your cells are well protected, thus reducing the risk of such conditions.
Common antioxidants in broccoli include:
Broccoli is rich in glucoraphanin, a compound that converts to sulforaphane during digestion. Sulforaphane is a powerful antioxidant essential for various functions, including reducing inflammation, supporting the liver, and enhancing certain cancer treatments.
ii. Carotenoids such as Beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin
Carotenoids are pigments that give plant foods their color. They are responsible for the bright yellow, red, and orange color in colored vegetables and fruits but can also be found in some green vegetables like broccoli.
They mainly protect you from diseases by enhancing your immune system.
Is cooked or raw broccoli better?
Regarding the nutritional value, the information on record shows that cooked broccoli is undoubtedly higher in nutrients than the raw version except for vitamin C. But still, cooked broccoli contains more than 50% of your daily vitamin C requirement, which is still pretty impressive.
Moreover, cooked broccoli is easy to digest.
So if you are looking for maximum nutrition, then cooked broccoli is the way to go. But if you prefer the taste of raw broccoli or need to indulge in something unique, you can try raw broccoli occasionally.
Nonetheless, the choice comes down to personal preference and what you expect with each bite.
Both raw and cooked broccoli is beneficial for your health; however, their nutrient levels may vary.
Raw broccoli is higher in vitamin C, while cooked broccoli has more nutrients, including fiber, protein, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Cooked broccoli also has more bioavailable antioxidants like carotenoids.
Ultimately the best option depends on how you like to eat your vegetables and which nutrients you prefer to get from them. Whether it’s raw or cooked, make sure to incorporate some broccoli into your diet for maximum nutrition!
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