Broccoli: Health Benefits | Almanac.com

Broccoli: Health Benefits

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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.

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.

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.

Growing Broccoli

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 The Author

Margaret Boyles

Margaret Boyles is a longtime contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She wrote for UNH Cooperative Extension, managed NH Outside, and contributes to various media covering environmental and human health issues. Read More from Margaret Boyles

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