Love them or hate them, there’s no denying the benefits of vegetables. And if you’re looking for a vegetable that offers the most nutritional bang with each bite, it’s hard to compete with broccoli.
Whether you’ve already discovered the deliciousness of this edible green plant, or you’re thinking about incorporating more of it into your diet, here’s everything you need to know about broccoli.
Defining Broccoli: What Exactly is This buzzed-about Veggie?
This nutritional powerhouse is no stranger to plates. Even if you haven’t delighted your taste buds with it, you can probably identify its green stalk and green flowering head in a lineup of other vegetables.
It’s a staple in just about every produce section. But what’s interesting is that it is a fairly new crop in certain parts of the world. Believe it or not, broccoli didn’t become widely popular in the United States until the 1920s, and it didn’t make its way to England until the 1700s.
This vegetable is native to the Mediterranean, and it was originally cultivated in Italy. It’s a cruciferous vegetable that shares ancestry with other flowering plants, including cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale.
Nutrition Facts: Calories, Fiber, and More
Similar to other vegetables, it is high in water and low in calories. So you can eat about as much as you want and keep your calorie count in check.
For example, 1 cup of chopped broccoli has :
- 31 calories
- 81 grams of water
- 2.4 grams of fiber
It is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, notes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate guidelines. The same 1 cup of chopped It contains about 43 milligrams (mg) of calcium (4.3 percent of the recommended daily value, or DV), 288 mg of potassium (6.1 percent DV), 81 mg of vitamin C (90 percent DV for men and more than 100 percent DV for women), 92 micrograms of vitamin K (115 percent DV), and 567 international units of vitamin A (about 11 percent DV). (3)
The vegetable also contains a small number of other vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, folate, vitamin E, and vitamin B6.
What Are the Evidence-Based Health Benefits?
1. Helps Fight Cancer
Since you know the nourishing prizes of It, how about we perceive how these supplements, nutrients, and minerals can help advantage your body. Cancer occurs when malignant cells develop and spread throughout the body. While modern medicine helps kill cancerous cells, don’t underestimate the cancer-fighting potential of broccoli. This vegetable may help reduce your risk of certain cancers, like lung cancer, stomach cancer, and colon cancer.
This is due to a compound in broccoli called isothiocyanates, which helps decrease inflammation. Chronic inflammation can cause changes to your DNA and increase the risk of cancer.
2. Strengthens Your Bones
Vitamin K helps your body absorb calcium, and a deficiency increases the risk of bone fractures. Due to the high amount of vitamin K in broccoli, eating more of this vegetable can strengthen your bones.
It also contains calcium, which is another essential nutrient for strong bones and teeth.
3. Reduces Cholesterol
Your doctor may recommend medication if you’ve been struggling to lower your blood cholesterol. But given the number of possible drug side effects, you might look for natural ways to remedy this problem.
It is especially rich in soluble fiber, the type of fiber that research suggests is most effective for reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Since a healthy cholesterol level reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, It can also contribute to heart health.
4. Improves Immunity
Ever wonder how some people can go through cold and flu season without a sneeze? The secret might be a stronger immune system and their ability to fight off illnesses.
If you’re looking to strengthen your immune system, It is the vegetable for the job. The vitamin C in this flowering plant may give your body the boost it needs to fight off infections. As a bonus, vitamin C helps detoxify the body and removes free radicals that can lead to arthritis, wrinkles, and age-related macular degeneration.
5. Helps With Weight Loss
It is also an excellent food for weight loss. Along with being low in calories, this fiber-rich food can help you stay full longer and may curb overeating. It can also improve digestion and help relieve constipation.
How Much Broccoli to Eat to Reap Its Health Benefits
If you’re not a huge vegetable fan, you might cringe at the thought of consuming large amounts of it on a daily basis. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to enjoy the health benefits, especially because adults only need about 2.5 cups of cooked vegetables per day (you’ll need a slightly larger amount if they’re raw). So if you eat 1 cup of broccoli per day (whether it’s with a meal or snack), you’re nearly halfway to the recommended daily intake of vegetables for adults.
What Does Research Say Broccoli Can’t Do for Your Health?
Although it has myriad health benefits, it’s not a miracle vegetable or a cure-all. There’s no single food to guarantee good health. Other factors decide your overall health, too. These include lifestyle and genetics. So eating it doesn’t mean that you’ll never get ill. All things considered, consolidating however many sound nourishments into your eating regimen as could be allowed may assume a job in sickness anticipation.
Are There Any Health Risks to Eating Broccoli?
If you take blood-thinning medication, talk to your doctor before adding more broccoli to your diet. It contains vitamin K, which helps the blood clot. Therefore, consuming large amounts of broccoli may reduce the effectiveness of anticlotting medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin and Jantoven). If your doctor says it’s okay to eat broccoli, find out how much of the veggie you can safely consume. The amount can vary depending on the individual, but in general, keeping the overall intake of vitamin K relatively consistent from day to day is best.
Types of Broccoli and How They Differ From One Another
When you go to the grocery store, you may only see one type broccoli, depending on where you live. So naturally, you might think this is the only type. But broccoli is so much more than what you may see in the produce section.
There are two main types of broccoli, and their differences stem from when they are harvested. Calabrese broccoli has a thick tail and is reaped after summer when the temperatures become cooler. Sprouting broccoli can be identified by its thin stalks. It’s usually harvested in the winter.
Creative Tips for Cooking and Serving Broccoli at Home
Before you say that broccoli is boring, consider the many ways to prepare this vegetable. If you want to include more broccoli in your diet, it’s important to change up your recipes; otherwise, you’ll get tired of the vegetable. Fortunately, there are tons of broccoli recipes out there — from dips to salads to soups!
Don’t feel like turning on the stove? No problem. Pick up fresh broccoli from the store and eat it as a snack. Add a bit of flavor with hummus or homemade yogurt dip.
Thinking about broccoli for dinner? You can eat broccoli several times a week and prepare it differently each time. Add olive oil and garlic to a pan and sauté your broccoli. Steam or stir-fry until it softens and season to taste. Or for a crispier alternative, roast your broccoli in the oven.
Because broccoli is so versatile, you can eat it with just about anything. It also makes the perfect side dish. Sauté, steam, or roast broccoli for dinner, and eat it alongside beef, chicken, pork, or tofu. Many casseroles include broccoli as an ingredient. And if it’s cold outside, whip up a broccoli and cheese soup or a broccoli potato soup.
A Last Word on Why You Should Include it in Your Diet
If you haven’t discovered this powerful food, you’re missing out on something good. Whether you’re looking to build your immunity, reduce your cancer risk, or improve digestion, It can be a delicious addition to your breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack.