Broccoli: Health Benefits
Broccoli has many health benefits that make it really good for you and your family, so even if you didn’t like it as a child, you may want to reacquaint yourself with this princely vegetable.
Why Broccoli is Good for You
Broccoli is SO nutritious that you just need to embrace it!
- By conventional nutritional standards, broccoli stands out. It’s low in calories, high in fiber and vitamins C, K, and folate, plus it contains contains significant amounts of several other vitamins and minerals.
- Broccoli contains many classes of beneficial phytochemicals, including carotenoids, flavonoids, and the sulfur-containing glucosinolates—cancer-fighting compounds unique to cruciferous vegetables that give them their pungency and flavor.
Studies show great differences among broccoli varieties in the amounts of healthful phytocompounds they contain.
- Slicing, chopping, chewing or cooking broccoli (and especially sprouted broccoli seeds) activates an enzyme that breaks down the glucosinolates into compounds called isothiocyanates, which many studies have indicated have potent anti-cancer properties.
- The bactericidal properties of sulforaphane (one of the isothiocyanate compounds) inhibit Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium known to cause gastric and peptic ulcers, and possibly gastric cancer.
- Sulphorophane (a brocolli phytocompound) extracted from broccoli sprouts has shown promise in lessening the behavioral, social, and language symptoms of autism.
How to Cook Broccoli
Maybe your mother made you eat broccoli way back when and you didn’t like it. But broccoli can be prepared in different ways, depending on your taste. Bear in mind that it’s easy to ruin broccoli by overcooking or smothering it in a heavy sauce.
When you do cook broccoli, cook it lightly to retain nutrients and maximum flavor. Try some new recipes and you’ll likely hear, “Encore! Encore!”
Caution: Broccoli and its close family members—kale, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, cauliflower—can (rarely) interfere with thyroid function in some individuals. But cooking apparently alters the isothiocyanates’ molecular structure, allowing most people to enjoy cruciferous vegetables and the health-promoting values they deliver. If you have concerns, consult your healthcare practitioner.
If you’re a home gardener, you’ll find broccoli easy to grow. See The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s growing guide to broccoli.
Plus, there’s a bonus: After you cut the main head, providing you’ve selected the right variety, a well-grown plant will keep producing “side shoots” (individual florets) until heavy frost shuts the whole garden down.
If you don’t have a garden, you can easily grow broccoli “microgreens” for salads and garnishes, which contain more of the healthful phytocompounds than mature leaves and heads.
About This Blog
Margaret Boyles lives in a wood-heated house in central New Hampshire. She grows vegetables, keeps chickens, swims in a backyard pond in summer, snowshoes in the surrounding woods in winter, and commutes by bike whenever possible.