What are the health benefits of broccoli?
Here are a few health benefits of broccoli that’ll stop you scrunching your nose at this humble vegetable.
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.
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 protien 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.
What are the best ways to cook broccoli?
A staple green on most salads, this versatile vegetable is arguably at its bright green best after a few minutes steaming or boiling. Saying that, roasting brings out a nutty, umami flavour, or you can even eat it raw for full nutritional clout.
Broccoli is usually broken down into florets, which require less cooking time than the stalks. Be sure to use the whole vegetable – too often the stalks are unnecessarily thrown out, when they can be finely chopped and cooked in the same way as the florets. You can even save them for different recipes – they make a flavourful soup base, or are delicious pan-fried with onion and garlic then tossed through pasta.
Though it’s usually best to cook broccoli still with a little bite to it to retain its bright green colour and nutritional benefit, why not consider embracing the softer side of broccoli? Slow-roast it whole and serve as a vegetarian centrepiece, or confit in some oil with garlic for 2 hours before spreading over toast.
If you want to keep it simple, follow the steps below.
- extra virgin olive oil, optional
- Trim the broccoli into florets (saving the stalks for soups or sauces or finely dicing it for a different texture) and bring a large pan of water to the boil
- Add the broccoli and cook for a few minutes until the stem is tender and it’s still a nice bright green color – broccoli becomes dull when overcooked
- Drain well, allow to steam for a minute or so and dress in some extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper