Broccoli - Nutritional & Health Benefits
So, this week I will tell you all about the health and nutritional benefits of broccoli and next week we will talk about orange 😊
Broccoli, like all the Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, savoy, bok choy), is low-calorie and rich in vitamins and fiber.
- As you probably know, the most publicized health benefit of broccoli is its potential to help fight cancer. Responsible for the chemoprotective properties of broccoli is a compound called sulforaphane (it also gives broccoli that slightly bitter taste). Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are responsible for initiating and maintaining most forms of cancer and are known to be largely drug-resistant. Several studies have indicated that sulforaphane can target CSCs in different types of cancer, which would assist in the recovery process and reduce the risk of relapse.
Fun fact: Broccoli sprouts have a higher concentration of this cancer-fighting compound and can be easily be sprouted from seed on your windowsill. 😉
- Studies have found that consuming broccoli regularly lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases thanks to its high soluble fiber content, which binds with cholesterol in the blood. This binding process makes the cholesterol easier to excrete from the body and therefore results in the reduction of the total amount of cholesterol. In addition to that, broccoli keeps your heart healthy by strengthening the blood vessels. The anti-inflammatory properties of sulforaphane can prevent and reverse the damage done to blood vessel linings due to chronic blood sugar levels. Something that I find super interesting is that broccoli's B vitamins can help regulate your body's homocysteine levels*. So basically, when you eat red meat combine it with broccoli to adjust the homocysteine level.
*Homocysteine is an amino acid that increases with excessive red meat consumption. High levels of homocysteine in the body increase the risk of coronary artery disease.
- Broccoli promotes healthy digestion and reduces constipation. This characteristic can be attributed to (what else?) the high fiber content, which keeps the bowel movement regular and assists in maintaining a healthy level of gut flora.
- Broccoli contains certain carotenoids - lutein and zeaxanthin - that are known to strengthen the eye health by decreasing the risk of age-related eye disorders like macular degeneration and cataracts.
- Broccoli is a nutrient powerhouse. It is rich in fiber, protein, iron, potassium, calcium, selenium, magnesium, as well as the vitamins A, B, C, E, K. Be mindful that different cooking methods can change the nutrient profile of broccoli. For example, boiling and steaming are considered to be better for preserving broccoli’s antioxidant status, but that way of cooking can destroy vitamin C. On the other hand, raw broccoli is better to preserve the levels of sulforaphane but can cause intestinal gas.
To sum up, eat your broccoli either raw or cooked – whatever you prefer, because it is a really valuable and healthy addition to a balanced diet.