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Broccoli Health Benefits

Updated on August 12, 2012

What Are Broccoli's Health Benefits?

Broccoli health benefits are many
Broccoli health benefits are many | Source

The History of Broccoli

The word broccoli, from the Italian plural of broccolo, which refers to "the flowering top of a cabbage".

The name comes from the Latin word brachium which mean “branch” or “arm”. Broccoli looks like a tree and the many parts of this vegetable provides a variety of tastes and textures.

One of the most popular types of broccoli sold in North America is known as Italian green, or Calabrese, named after the Italian province of Calabria where it first grew.

Broccoli originated in Italy. Back in Roman times, it grew from wild cabbage similar to collards. Italian immigrants brought broccoli to the U.S. during colonial times.

Broccoli Health Benefits

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable.

  • A study was recently done by scientists in Oregon at The Linus Pauling Institute to see if supplements containing the same nutrients as broccoli are as good as eating the actual food. Some vitamains, such as folic acid, and vitamin D, are absorbed better, or easy to add to our diet, as a supplement, than through food that we consume.

Broccoli Health Benefits

There are many health benefits to broccoli.

With all the nutrients it supplies,broccoli is better to eat, than to take the same nutrients as a supplement. The value of what broccoli offers comes from the food itself.

There is an enzyme called myrosinase that is missing from the supplements. This enzyme helps the body absorb 5 times of one type of compound and 8 times of another.

  • If broccoli is overcooked, or cooked until it is soft and mushy

It has less health value. Cooking broccoli slightly for 2 or 3 minutes or steaming it until it is still crunchy will let it retain its nutrients and the needed enzyme.

Broccoli contains the highest level phytochemicals chemicals called glucosinolates that scientists believe may reduce the risk of breast, prostate, colorectal, and lung cancer.

When eaten raw or slightly cooked, it helps break down the glucosinolates that helps detoxify carcinogens and help activate tumor suppressing genes.Other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, kale, and cabbage. They should be slightly cooked also.

Many supplements are necessary to get to the optimal levels in our diet, such as, fish oil, vitamins E, and C.

Some Cruciferous Vegetables

Members of the cruciferous family include

  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • brussels sprouts
  • kale
  • cabbage
  • bok choy

Cruciferous vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals that are healthy for us.

Broccoli Health Benefits Make It Well Worth Eating

What do cruciferous vegetables have going for them?

  • lower your risk of getting cancer - some studies have shown these vegetables can stop the cancerous growths in the breat, endometrium and(uterine lining), cervix, liver, lung, prostate and colon. Sulforaphane, indole 3-carbinol, and crambene - 3 phytochemicals in these vegetables using different mechanisms, help stimulate enymes that may detoxify carcinogens before they ever damage cells. Cruciferous vegetables also have the power to reduce the harm from oxygen free radicals, which our bodies generate automatically.
  • may help to protect the body against cardiovascular disease and the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Broccoli can lower cholesterol when you cook it by steaming. The fiber-related components in broccoli help bind together with bile acids in your digestive tract and make it easier for the bile acids to be excreted, thereby lowering your cholesterol Steaming is the most effective way to help it bind, although raw broccoli still has cholesterol-lowering ability, just not as much.
  • The B-complex vitamins in broccoli can also make a major contribution to our cardiovascular health. Especially with respect to excessive formation of homocysteine—an event which raises our risk of atherosclerosis, stroke, and heart attack—B-complex vitamin deficiency intake can pose a major risk. Three B vitamins especially important for lowering our risk of hyperhomocysteinemia (excessive formation of homocysteine) are vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate. By making an important contribution to our B6 and folate intake, broccoli can help us lower our risk of excessive homocysteine formation and cardiovascular problems that are related to excess homocysteine.

  • It has been noticed that people who eat broccoli may have a lower risk of having cataracts. Broccoli also may help detoxify the skin and help counteract the effects of sun damage. Broccoli also is an excellent source of vitamin K, and vitamin A. These vitamins when eaten with foods and supplements of vitamin D, can help offset vitamin D deficiency in these people.

  • Broccoli may help us solve our vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin A and vitamin K help keep our vitamin D metabolism in balance. Broccoli has an unusually strong combination of both vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and vitamin K.

  • Broccoli is a particularly rich source of a flavonoid called kaempferol. Recent research has shown the ability of kaempferol to be an anti inflammatory and to reduce our exposure toallergies. essen the impact of allergy-related substances on our body.

Broccoli is Very Nutritious

Comparison of Cruciferous Vegetables

Which cruciferous vegetables have the most vitamin A, vitamin C, and folic acid? The answers are:

  1. Kale (vitamin A)
  2. Broccoli (vitamin C)
  3. Brussels sprouts and broccoli (tied for folic acid)

Enjoy your cruciferous vegetables by: eating them only slightly cooked or raw. Add them to your casseroles, soups, stews, salads, and vegetable trays.

Many Research Studies Back Up Broccoli's Health Benefits

  • There have been over 300 research studies done on broccoli to help us understand the unique health benefits of this cruciferous vegetable.

How to Buy Broccoli

Fresh broccoli is best bought when the florets look firm, with a dark green or bluish hue on the top. These contain more beta carotene and vitamin C than the florets with a lighter green top.Old broccoli looks yellow, is limp and bendable.

  • Choose broccoli with floret clusters that are compact and not bruised.
  • They should be uniformly colored, either dark green, sage or purple-green, with no yellowing.
  • They shouldn’t have any yellow flowers blossoming through.This is a sign of over maturity.
  • The stalk and stems should be firm with no slimy spots appearing either there or on the florets.
  • If leaves are attached to the stem, they should be vibrant in color and not wilted.

How to Store Broccoli

Store in the refrigerator where it will keep for 10 days.

  • Do not wash broccoli before storing because exposure to water encourages spoilage.
  • Partial heads of broccoli should be placed in a well-sealed container or plastic bag and refrigerated.

The vitamin C content starts to quickly degrade once broccoli has been cut, so use it within a couple of days.

  • Broccoli that has been blanched and then frozen can stay up to a year.
  • Leftover cooked broccoli should be placed in tightly covered container and stored in the refrigerator where it will keep for a few days.

How to Prepare and Cook Broccoli

  • Rinse broccoli under cold running water.
  • Cut florets into quarters for quick and even cooking.
  • Peel and cut the stems of broccoli; they provide a good balance of flavors. Cut the stem into 1/2" slices For a healthier benefit, let it sit for several minutes before cooking.

If you're cooking broccoli, cook at a low cooking temperature in a range that includes the steaming temperature of 212°F (100°C),Only cook the florets for 5 minutes maximum. The stems take longer to cook, they can be prepared separately for a few minutes before adding the florets. To cook quicker, make lengthwise slits in the stems.The leaves are edible and have nutrients if you would like to eat the leaves.

Steaming broccoli for maximizes nutrition and the flavor. Fill the bottom of a steamer pot with 2 inches of water. While waiting for the water to come to a rapid boil prepare broccoli florets and stems. Steam stems for 2 minutes before adding the florets and leaves. Steam for 5 more minutes.

In all cases, steaming has been shown to do a better job of preserving nutrients than other cooking methods. Microwave is not preferable because the hot water that comes in contact with the the broccoli can leach out some of the nutrients.

Stir-Frying Broccoli
Stir fried broccoli also loses nutrients when the broccoli comes in contact with the hot oil. If you do stir-fry your broccoli, use a lower-heat skillet (at approximately 250°F/121°C) and a cook for a very time of 3 minute or less.

Raw Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts
Both cooked and raw broccoli can make excellent additions to any meal. Raw broccoli is also wonderful to eat. Slicing a few minutes prior to eating or thorough chewing of unsliced pieces will help activate sulfur-metabolizing enzymes. Another form of broccoli you may also want to try in you enjoy raw broccoli is broccoli sprouts. Some of the nutrients found in broccoli—like vitamin C—are especially concentrated in broccoli sprouts. Remember that all raw broccoli requires more thorough chewing than cooked broccoli, so take your time enjoying the textures and flavors of this amazing vegetable.

Broccoli can be served tossed with pasta and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Broccoli makes a great side dish, raw or slightly cooked. Enjoy broccoli in fresh salads and in omelets.

Broccoli Health Benefits Are Many

Broccoli is a hute little vegetable that has the power to heal. It is versatile and adaptable in many recipes. As a side dish, there are numerous recipes that make broccoli a delectable food. So eat your vegetables and include broccoli. Be sure to enjoy the broccoli health benefits in many ways and many meals. Nature has provided us with many foods that are designed to benefit us in many ways. Lemons are another one of natures's gifts.

Other Healthy Fruits and Vegetables

You can learn more about the benefits of tomatoes. Read whether the U.S. Supreme Court declared tomatoes a vegetable or fruit.


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    • Cheeky Kid profile image

      Cheeky Kid 3 years ago from Milky Way

      Too bad I don't eat brocolli that much. I prefer cauliflower which looks kinda like it. :D

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Fantastic tribute to's not only delicious, but it's nutritious too!

    • handymanbill profile image

      Bill 3 years ago from western pennsylvania

      Broccoli is my favorite. Thanks for the additional ideas on ways to prepare.

      I will have to try them out.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

      Wow! I did not know that I can eat raw broccoli. I love eating veggies and broccoli is one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing this very useful and informative hub.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Great hub on broccoli. I love the veggie and it has so many health benefits. I usually steam it when I eat it and I eat it several times a week. Thanks for sharing your ways of cooking and eating broccoli. I can always use a new idea. Thanks for sharing.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from idyllwild ca.

      The best article written about broccoli is this one! I believe I've read them all according to google. A terrific and informative hub. Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and will pin and share.

      Thanks a bunch! Audrey

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      I shall definitely increase my intake of broccoli and will steam it in future. Thank you for all the valuable information.

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

      Jo_Goldsmith11 4 years ago

      I love broccoli! This is one of my several favorite vegetables. I would rather eat broccoli, green beans, carrots..every day of the week than take a vitamin. I love cheese on broccoli too. Just sometimes as a comfort food. Enjoyed reading and shared, up +++ she goes. :-)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      Really a lot of great information in this hub! So glad that I love these veggies!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      What a great hub. You covered it all. We eat lots of broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale...I always steam or barbecue. Thanks for all the great info. voting up and pinning.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 5 years ago

      A really comprehensive hub on broccoli. Voted up!

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 5 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      An excellent hub and the historical information was great! I had no idea about broccoli's beginnings and how far back it actually went.

      I liked the tips on how to cook the broccoli properly. So often when eating out, you can see and taste the fact that the broccoli has been spoiled by overcooking and even a sauce doesn't cover up the fact. But to be honest at home, I actually love eating raw broccoli as you mentioned in your hub. I have IBS and not that many vegetables agree with me, but I can manage raw broccoli and also cooked brussel sprouts - just as well that they are two of my favourite veggies!!

      A great hub with great information! Voted up + shared!

    • Emanate Presence profile image

      Gary R. Smith 5 years ago from the Head to the Heart

      Very very informative and useful hub. One to keep for future reference as well. Another veggie I am interested in is kale, as we just invested in a mega-blender and here in northern Germany have not found kale for green smoothies. Maybe there are substitutes or we could grow our own. Thanks much for the great article.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I am the first to admit that vegetables are not my favorite food, but I actually like broccoli! :) You did a great job in this hub; there is so much practical information. I'm passing this one to Bev so that she will be as smart as me regarding broccoli. :)

    • profile image

      klarawieck 5 years ago

      Geez! I knew broccoli was good for you but I had no idea how good it was. Thanks for informing us. I'm always interested in learning about the nutrients found in food. This is a very complete and informative article. Thank you!

    • kjrzeek1 profile image

      kjrzeek1 5 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Great hub! Voted up, thanks for the information.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      I love brocolli. they're just delicious and so packed with health benefits.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I did not realize the stems take longer to cook. Great tips and facts here about the healthy vegetable. Vote up and share too.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 5 years ago from Washington

      Interesting on the cataracts---I did not know that~ I know a lot of the broccoli health benefits but will have to pass that one on to my son and my mom. Nicely presented, too, Rhonda.

    • LivingFood profile image

      LivingFood 5 years ago

      With all the health benefits it has to offer, I'm glad I learned to love broccoli. I usually steam it for a few's good to know that it is the best method of cooking in order to preserve the nutrients. Thanks for the great tips!

    • GoGreenTips profile image

      Greg Johnson 5 years ago from Indianapolis

      Broccoli is indeed very healthy for you...But I have never been a big fan of the taste..Great article!

    • Injured lamb profile image

      Injured lamb 5 years ago

      A broccoli lover has been convinced by you to eat even more for sharing this great hub with us which is so informative toknowinfo, an "up" for you, cheers!

    • profile image

      ignugent17 5 years ago

      Thanks for the information and this is very useful too. I always wash the vegetables before putting in the fridge. Now I have to put the broccoli aside. voted up and more.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi my friend, Now this is a hub i can sink my teeth into !!! All great well written information on broccoli and all it's great benefits of eating it . LOVE BROCCOLI !

      Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

    • amillar profile image

      amillar 5 years ago from Scotland, UK

      I'm a broccoli fan and eat some every day - lightly steamed.

      This very useful hub has added to my knowledge and appreciation of the plant. Another gem of a hub toknowinfo.

    • Emayordomo profile image

      Emayordomo 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      I love broccoli. After reading this, I realized there are many things I didn't know. So thanks!

    • Conservative Lady profile image

      Sheila 5 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      Very good hub I am a broccoli fan. I enjoyed your hub but my only concern is that everyone else who reads this hub will be enticed to go out and buy broccoli thus driving up the price before I go shopping next week. LOL Great Hub