Love It or Hate It… Broccoli is Good for You

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1. Cancer Prevention

Broccoli contains glucoraphanin, which the body processes into the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane.

This compound rids the body of 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.

Broccoli shares these cancer fighting, immune boosting properties with other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

2. Cholesterol Reduction

Like many whole foods, broccoli is packed with soluble fiber 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 phyto nutrients. Research has shown the ability of kaempferol to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances on our body. Broccoli even has significant amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, which are well know as an anti-inflammatory.

4. Powerful Antioxidant

Of all the cruciferous vegetables, broccoli stands out as the most concentrated source of vitamin C, plus the flavonoids necessary for vitamin C to recycle effectively. Also concentrated in broccoli are the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, other powerful antioxidants.

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 be caused by inflammation due to chronic blood sugar problems.

7. Detoxification

Glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin 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 a smart carb and is high in fiber, 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.

Trivia

  • Broccoli is really a very large flower top, picked before it blooms.
  • Broccoli was cultivated 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. (Which explains why I chose to write this piece.) 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 allergies, asthma, migraines and depression.
  • Just 1/2 cup per day or two 2-cup servings per week has been shown to be 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 phytonutrient sulforaphane.
  • The 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 the cauliflower species. Its shape, like many forms within nature, approximates a natural fractal. 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 it 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 an Olive Oil Lemon Dressing 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 anti-cancer benefits, some researchers are recommending 3 cups per day. This means don’t just use a garnish – cook up a LOT.

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