If you have ever wondered what the health benefits of broccoli are, then you need to read this article.
While broccoli has been proven to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, it can also help treat high blood pressure, strengthen your immune system, and improve brain function, among other things.
These are just some of the many health benefits of broccoli, so keep reading to find out more about this popular vegetable.
Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse for vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and even fiber.
A cup of cooked broccoli ( 91 grams) provides
- Carbs: 11 grams
- Protein: 5 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
- Vitamin C: 135% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 100 micrograms, or 276 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin C: 101 milligrams, or 168 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin A: 120 milligrams, or 48 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin B9 (Folate): 168 micrograms, or 42 percent of the daily requirements
- Potassium: 457 milligrams, or 14 percent of the daily requirements
- Phosphorus: 105 milligrams, or 10 percent of the daily requirements
- Manganese: 0.4 milligrams, or 16 percent of the daily requirement
- Magnesium: 33 milligrams, or 8 percent of the daily requirement
- Calcium: 62 milligrams, or 6 percent of the daily requirement
It has just 25 calories, a little more than 5 grams of carbohydrates, no fat, and a few grams of plant protein in one cup. The nutrient-dense vegetable still boasts a lot of health benefits. When cooked, black beans provide almost 250% of the daily vitamin K requirement, which aids blood clotting and promotes bone health.
Similarly sized portions also provide thirteen percent of a 5-day vitamin C goal, over half of the target for chromium, a mineral that helps reduce blood sugar levels, and over half of the daily folate requirement.
Over 10% of your daily vitamin A, B6, B2, and E requirements can be met by one cup of cooked broccoli, and at least 5% can be met by magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and selenium.
The plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids in this powerful veggie are called alpha-linolenic acids, or ALAs, which help fight inflammation and improve circulation. Let us see more, How To Grow Broccoli.
Health Benefits of Broccoli
1. Broccoli is rich in fiber
Each cup of raw broccoli provides 2-3 grams of fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and feeds the gut bacteria that support immunity, anti-inflammatory, and mood-balancing functions.
In addition to the fruit, at least two ounces of water are included in that same size portion. Water and fiber support weight loss by signaling feelings of fullness. Fiber promotes blood sugar regulation as well as insulin regulation for steady, balanced energy.
2. Broccoli may help prevent cancer
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable and this family of plants has been shown to fight cancer. Compounds in this group have been linked to cancer prevention – they neutralize carcinogens and stop cancer cells from growing and spreading. Cruciferous veggies are also associated with apoptosis, which occurs when cells die due to malfunction. Read More.
Consuming broccoli regularly has been shown to significantly reduce your risk of certain types of cancer, including breast, prostate, colorectal, gastric, renal, and bladder cancers.
Researchers have identified various compounds found in broccoli that are able to break down and eliminate mutagens from your body, preventing them from turning into cancerous cells.
If you’re looking for an easy way to lower your risk of cancer, cooking broccoli on a regular basis is one of the best ways to do it. In fact, several studies have linked higher consumption of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, among other cancers.
Research Based Studies:
One study showed that women who ate at least 1 1⁄2 servings per week had a 20 percent reduced risk than those who ate less than one serving per month.
That being said, your cooking method can promote broccoli’s protective abilities or lose it. This is especially because sulforaphane, the leading contender in broccoli’s ability to fight cancer, does not occur naturally: It forms when two other compounds in broccoli come together: myrosinase (an enzyme) and glucosinolates.
Studies show that too much boiling or microwaving broccoli will destroy the enzyme myrosinase, so the sulforaphane can’t form.
Another study comparing microwaving, boiling, and steaming methods of cooking found that microwaving and boiling for just a minute or less destroyed most of the myrosinase. On the other hand, steaming broccoli for 5 minutes retained the enzyme, and it’s thus the best method that retains the anti-cancer properties.
3. Broccoli protects the heart
There are many ways broccoli can help keep your heart healthy. It’s rich in sulforaphane, a powerful compound that has been found to improve cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and even thinning your blood. These anti-inflammatory properties also help prevent plaque buildup in arteries and keep them open, which is especially important if you have high cholesterol or diabetes.
In addition, in a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists found that broccoli lowered homocysteine levels by 9.5 percent. High homocysteine levels can lead to hardening and narrowing of arteries, leading to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Read More.
Broccoli may also lower cholesterol, another risk factor for high blood pressure and heart disease. In one study, a powdered broccoli supplement was shown to lower triglycerides and bad cholesterol while increasing the good ones.
4. Broccoli enhances brain health
Broccoli contains several nutrients, including kaempferol, sulforaphane, nitrates, and beta-carotene, some of which protect against age-related cognitive decline and help to maintain healthy brain function and nervous tissue.
One study found that consuming leafy greens (usually rich in vitamin K, vitamin E, kaempferol, and lutein) like broccoli may help slow down age-related cognitive decline.
A lab study found that treatment with kaempferol could help fight brain inflammation and prevent brain injury, especially in the event of a stroke.
In another study, treatment with sulforaphane enhanced brain tissue recovery and reduced inflammation following toxic exposure or brain injury following reduced oxygen supply to the brain.
All these studies are quite promising; however, most of them have been done on animals. So further human studies are needed to confirm these findings further.
Broccoli contains several nutrients, some of which protect against age-related cognitive decline and help to maintain healthy brain function and nervous tissue.
5. It strengthens bone health
The combination of nutrients in broccoli is vital to bone density loss prevention and bone formation. Besides vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium, these substances are also found in copper, iron, zinc, and vitamins B and A. In a synergistic manner, these nutrients build bone density and strength. Read More.
6. Reduces Inflammation
As well as preventing premature aging, broccoli’s anti-inflammatory power also reduces chronic disease risk. Additionally, resolving inflammation may assist in managing existing inflammatory conditions, including type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory skin conditions, obesity, and bowel disease.
Research shows that sulforaphane has potent anti-inflammatory properties and aids in alleviating chronic pain. In fact, when compared to traditional anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin, it proved to be at least 20 times more potent. The best way to benefit from broccoli’s anti-inflammatory benefits is by eating it raw or lightly steamed.
Broccoli is also chock-full of vitamin C, which helps boost immunity and ward off sickness by reducing inflammation throughout your body.
7. Detoxifies the body naturally
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts are rich in phytonutrients like indoles, isothiocyanates, and sulforaphane, which have powerful detoxifying effects on the body. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, these compounds can help detoxify carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) in your body through both chemical and non-chemical methods. Read More.
The potential to naturally detoxify harmful substances makes broccoli very important in preventing cancer formation or growth.
Broccoli also contains phenolic acids, another group of antioxidants that detoxify harmful free radicals in your body and may lower your risk of cancer.
8. Enhances eye health
If you’re concerned about your eye health, broccoli is the perfect food to add to your plate. This cruciferous vegetable is rich in antioxidants that protect the eye from age-related damage. It’s specifically rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two powerful antioxidants that protect the retina and lens against damage. This may help stave off macular degeneration and cataracts, which is a leading cause of blindness.
9. Promotes oral health
Tooth decay, one of the most common health issues today, is caused by bacteria. The natural antioxidants in broccoli prevent bacteria from adhering to tooth enamel—reducing your risk for cavities and gingivitis. In addition, broccoli’s sulfur compounds help rid your mouth of bad breath. As if that wasn’t enough reason to include it in your diet, broccoli also contains anti-inflammatory properties that protect against gum disease.
10. Relieves Menstrual Cramps & Period Pain
Including broccoli in your diet can relieve menstrual cramps and period pain in women who are suffering from them. While research is still ongoing, scientists do know that isothiocyanates, which are found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, block histamine receptors. This prevents prostaglandins from stimulating uterine contractions during menstruation. Additionally, sulfur compounds like those found in broccoli stimulate the production of a hormone that prevents excessive bleeding.
Top 5 Tips for Eating Broccoli
Use it as a side dish
A cup of broccoli with dinner is an easy way to add nutrients like vitamin C and fiber to your diet. Use it as a side dish with other foods.
Also, if you’re using it as a side dish, choose steamed broccoli and avoid adding butter or cheese, especially animal-based ones. Those are usually high in fat and calories. For example, a cup of cooked broccoli topped with a half-teaspoon of shredded cheese has nearly 200 calories! And if you add one tablespoon of butter on top? That’s another 100 calories right there.
Add it to your favorite recipes
Aside from using broccoli as a side dish, you can add it to your favorite recipes—and reap its benefits. Add finely chopped broccoli to pasta, pizza, and sandwiches; use it in smoothies and soups, and sneak some into your next stir-fry. Experiment with different cooking methods too: try steaming or sautéing instead of boiling.
Mix it in with sauces, dressings, and dips
Combine it with hummus, or add it to other sauces, dressings, and dips. Broccoli tastes great with salsa and guacamole. If you’re looking to add some flavor (and a lot of vitamins) to your dinner plate, try roasting your broccoli along with some red bell peppers and a bit of olive oil. And don’t forget that your favorite side dishes—like rice pilaf or roasted potatoes—go well with broccoli as well.
Steaming is a healthier way to cook broccoli than sautéing or boiling it. Water-based cooking methods leach nutrients from vegetables, which is why steaming are the most recommended method. This can be done by placing broccoli florets in a steamer basket over boiling water and allowing them to cook for about 5 minutes.
Eat it raw in salads or crudités
When you eat broccoli raw, you save yourself from having to cook it—and that means more of its nutrients will be preserved. In fact, one study found that if your broccoli is eaten cooked, only 25 percent of its antioxidant capacity remains intact; in comparison, a raw broccoli salad can retain up to 90 percent of these vitamins and minerals. However, If you find it hard to digest raw broccoli then use the steaming method above, or better yet, eat Broccoli Microgreens.
In addition to being a great low-calorie way to fill up, soup can also improve digestion. That’s because veggies, like broccoli, are rich in fiber and resistant starch that help you feel fuller longer and keep things moving along in your intestines. Add some healthy fats like olive oil for an extra staying boost.
Regardless of how you consume your broccoli, eating more of these wonderful vegetables is a smart way to maximize your nutrient intake and protect your health.
Broccoli may not be the most glamorous of veggies, but it offers some great health benefits. It can also contribute to your body’s natural defense mechanisms against illness and disease.
Some benefits to expect include protection against cancer, improved heart health, better brain health, strong bones, and improved vision, among others.
That being said, the preparation method plays an important role in preserving the nutrients in broccoli. There are various ways to cook it but steaming or eating it raw preserves most of the benefits, and it’s thus the best method to adopt.
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