Broccoli is prized as a nutritious green veggie. But how exactly can eating it be beneficial for your health?
Commonly tagged as a “mini tree”, broccoli is packed with nutrients that you need for the day. These powerful nutrients are behind this veggie’s health effects including reduced risk of cancer, healthy bones, and younger-looking skin.
So, if you aren’t enjoying broccoli in your plate enough, now’s the best time to prepare some tasty broccoli dish!
Discover the incredible broccoli health benefits and learn some tips on how you can add it to your regular nutrition in this ultimate guide!
What is Broccoli?
Broccoli is a green plant that is considered a superfood. It belongs to the Brassicaceae family along with other cruciferous veggies including cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, and Brussel sprouts.
Broccoli comes in different varieties, and the most popular ones include calaberese broccoli, sprouting broccoli, and broccoflower, which is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.
This green veggie is a nutritional powerhouse packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that offer several amazing health benefits.
Broccoli: Nutrition Facts
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Database, broccoli is an excellent source of potassium and vitamin A.
It is also rich in other key nutrients such as phosphorus, calcium, sodium, magnesium, vitamin C, and folate. What’s more, it contains vitamin K, healthy fats, niacin, vitamin B-6, riboflavin, and thiamin.
Broccoli is also a hydrating vegetable and has natural fiber that promotes healthy digestion.
What are the Benefits of Broccoli?
If you’re looking to eat healthier, green veggies must never leave your grocery shopping list. Cruciferous veggies offer you tons of health perks. Broccoli, in particular, offers incredible health rewards including:
It prevents the risk of cancer
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli have been found to prevent the development of chronic diseases such as cancer.
This chemoprotective effect is attributed to the veggies’ glucosinolates, which are broken down during cooking, chewing, and digestion to form active compounds.
These active compounds include indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates, which were found to inhibit the development of cancer including the lung, breast, colon, and prostate.
Apart from this, broccoli is also a good source of fiber, which helps strengthen your immunity and fight inflammatory diseases like cancer.
It promotes heart health
Aside from its anticancer effects, broccoli also helps to keep your heart healthy by strengthening your blood vessels.
Several studies found that broccoli consumption can promote heart health by improving the heart’s blood-pumping ability, and reducing oxidative stress, and inflammation in the cardiovascular system.
It improves digestion and reduces constipation
Eating broccoli is also good for your digestive health as it is rich in fiber and antioxidants, both of which promote improved digestion and bowel function.
Having a healthy colon is also key to digestive health. One study found that broccoli consumption significantly lowered inflammation in the colon.
Another study found that a broccoli diet altered the gut bacteria in the colon favorably, promoting gut health. Another research discovered that people who ate broccoli sprouts experienced improved bowel habits, reducing the incidence of constipation.
While these findings are promising, more human studies are needed to fully understand how broccoli influences digestive health.
It promotes bone and teeth health
Broccoli was also found to be beneficial for your bone and teeth health. This veggie is a rich source of key nutrients essential for maintaining bone mineral density such as calcium, vitamin K, magnesium, and potassium.
Vitamin K, in particular, plays a crucial role in bone metabolism and protection against osteoporosis. It also promotes better calcium absorption and helps to increase bone mass.
This essential vitamin, specifically vitamin K2, also helps to preserve tooth enamel, prevent tooth decay, and heal and re-mineralize dentin, giving you stronger, healthier teeth.
It can treat allergies
Research also discovered broccoli’s preventive and therapeutic potential for allergies. One study found that broccoli sprout extract weakened nasal allergic response to diesel exhaust particles.
Broccoli also contains rich amounts of kaempferol and quercetin, polyphenols that were found to suppress allergic inflammation.
It promotes eye health
Studies also show that broccoli may help prevent blindness, another health benefit attributed to its sulforaphane content.
This antioxidant, which is naturally occurring in cruciferous veggies, was found to protect the eyes against chronic degenerative diseases, preventing age-related macular degeneration, and blindness.
Broccoli is also among the fruits and veggies rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that promote eye health. These powerful antioxidants help prevent other serious eye problems like cataracts.
It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which is a key nutrient essential for having healthy eyes.
It may be beneficial for diabetes patients
Certain compounds contained in broccoli may also help diabetes sufferers. Its fiber content helps prevent blood vessel damage caused by diabetes.
Meantime, the sulforaphane contained in the veggie stimulates certain enzymes that minimize this kind of damage. This compound was also found to reduce blood glucose levels, helping to prevent the risk and worsening of diabetes symptoms.
It enhances brain function
Broccoli also possesses other crucial nutrients that enhance brain function such as vitamin K and choline. Vitamin K also regulates calcium in the brain, preventing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
Broccoli also contains folic acid, which has been found to enhance memory and cut the risk of depression.
A report by the Harvard Medical School also noted that broccoli is a good source of beta-carotene, which can help prevent cognitive decline.
It boosts immunity
Thanks to its vitamin C content, broccoli also helps to boost immunity. Research shows that vitamin C significantly contributes to the prevention and treatment of common colds, and improves several immune system parameters.
Sulforaphane, which is behind broccoli’s other incredible health perks, was also found to increase the production of “defense” enzymes, which enhances antioxidant activities.
In animal subjects, sulforaphane was discovered to prevent inflammatory diseases and cancer. Its potential in doing the same on humans are currently being studied.
Additionally, broccoli contains glutathione, which is tagged as the “master antioxidant”. Research shows that glutathione not only inhibits inflammation but also regulates innate immunity that is beneficial to the host.
It may aid in weight loss
Adding broccoli to your diet may also be beneficial in your weight loss efforts. Low in calories and a good source of fiber, broccoli helps to keep you full for longer, preventing unnecessary caloric intake.
So, if you’re trying to lose weight and still want to stick to a healthy diet, incorporate broccoli into your regular nutrition.
How Can You Add Broccoli to Your Diet?
Broccoli’s fantastic benefits to health all the more convince us to incorporate it into our regular nutrition. Below are some yummy ideas on how you can add broccoli to your diet:
Eat it as a snack
The easiest way to enjoy broccoli in your diet is by eating it raw as a snack. Swap your nutrient-deficient chips with this nutritious fresh veggie!
Add it to a vegan curry
Want to enjoy a satisfying meal that’s perfect for your vegan diet? Use broccoli to make a simple yet drooling curry dish. You can try making this delicious Easy Vegan Red Curry recipe.
Enjoy it in a low-carb dish
If you’re looking to make a low-carb dish for your work lunch, look no further than this Cajun Turkey Cubes with Mashed Broccoli. The mashed broccoli is a perfect replacement for white rice as it’s boasting with good-for-your-health nutrients.
Make a broccoli smoothie
Want to enjoy broccoli a bit differently? Why not consume it through your glass instead of your plate? You can also make a healthy smoothie made of broccoli and other key ingredients including banana, spinach, and peanut butter!
Add it to your soup
Broccoli makes a great addition to a creamy soup because this veggie gives it texture. And the good news is, you can make a 10-minute broccoli soup when you’re in a rush!
Throw it into your salad
Create a yummy and colorful summer salad made of broccoli, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and bacon bits! Perk it up with an equally tasty homemade dressing.
What are the Potential Risks of Consuming Broccoli?
Broccoli is generally safe to eat, and if side effects may occur, they are usually not severe.
Some of the common side effects of broccoli consumption include bowel irritation and gas. Just like any cruciferous veggie, broccoli tends to make you gassy due to its fiber content.
If you are taking certain medications, though, you are advised to watch your broccoli intake. For instance, broccoli may interact with blood-thinning medications.
Since broccoli is a powerful source of vitamin K, it may interfere with the effectiveness of the medication. People with hypothyroidism, a condition that affects the thyroid, are also advised to watch their broccoli intake.
Broccoli, is indeed, a great source of nutrients that may help boost your health.
From helping to detoxify your body to boosting your bone and dental health to trimming your cancer risk, broccoli definitely deserves to be included in your grocery shopping list!
But while it offers many incredible health rewards, experts advise eating broccoli along with other nutrient-packed foods.
A well-balanced diet comprised of various nutritious veggies will help you achieve your health and wellness goals much easier.