What Is Broccoli Good For?
Broccoli can be a controversial subject. It’s much-maligned by those who dislike it and adored by those who appreciate it for its amazing nutritional value. If you’re on the fence about broccoli, there are many reasons to give broccoli another chance. It packs a bundle of benefits, including:
- Low in calories
- High in essential vitamins and minerals
- Good source of fiber
Is Broccoli Good For You?
Broccoli is reputed to benefit digestion, the immune system, the cardiovascular system, and to have anti-inflammatory and even cancer-preventing properties. There is no doubt that broccoli is indeed good for you.
The broccoli plant is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family. It’s closely related to Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a sulfur-containing compound present in cruciferous vegetables. Researchers are studying the anti-cancer properties of sulforaphane.
Let’s look at these virtues in more detail.
Broccoli Nutrition Facts
How Many Calories are in Broccoli?
One cup of chopped raw broccoli (which is the equivalent of approximately 91 grams) contains just 31 calories. The calories in broccoli are negligible..
How Many Carbs are in Broccoli?
The total carb content of broccoli is very low. In one cup of broccoli, there are 6 total grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and only 3.5 grams of digestible carbs. Raw broccoli is 90% water and 7% carbs. The broccoli carbohydrate count mainly consists of fiber and sugars. Its sugars include fructose, glucose, and sucrose, with lesser amounts of lactose and maltose.
What about Broccoli Protein?
Broccoli ranks in the top 10 of vegetables for protein content. A cup of raw chopped broccoli provides a respectable 2.6 grams of protein and includes all the essential amino acids.
Health Benefits of Broccoli
Broccoli Vitamins and Minerals
A cup of broccoli delivers the same amount of Vitamin C as an orange. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that builds collagen and helps cuts and wounds to heal. It’s full of B vitamins too, as it delivers vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6. In addition, broccili is a good source of folate, which is needed for the formation of new cells andt’s high in vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting. As an added bonus, on the minerals side, broccoli contains iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
Broccoli is loaded with phytochemicals and antioxidants. Phytochemicals are the chemicals in broccoli plants that are responsible for its color, smell, and flavor. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that the phytochemicals in broccoli are good for the immune system.
Antioxidants are chemicals that can isolate and neutralize free radicals that cause cell damage.
Blood Sugar Control
Broccoli powder from freeze-dried and ground broccoli could prove a vital boon to people with Type 2 diabetes. It can reduce blood sugar levels by as much as 10%, without the risk of liver damage that comes with some diabetic treatments.
May Aid Digestion
The high fiber content in broccoli aids in keeping people ‘regular’ and also helps to maintain healthy bacteria counts in the intestines. Broccoli also helps with digestion because it contains sulforaphane, which controls the overgrowth of the stomach bacteria ’Helicobacter pylori.’
The fiber in broccoli is also attributed to lowering the risk of colon cancer. Ingesting fiber encourages regularity, which is critical for the removal of toxins in bile and stool.
Another plus is that high fiber consumption can help to lower cholesterol!
Other Benefits of Broccoli
Broccoli is great for anti-inflammatory effects and may mitigate damage to the joints that are associated with osteoarthritis. The same substance that helps with digestion, sulforaphane, can help people suffering from arthritis.
A trio of phytochemicals (glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin, and glucobrassicin) found in the broccoli plant, and particularly the broccoli sprouts, assists the body’s detoxification processes by aiding in the elimination of contaminants.
How to Eat Broccoli
Raw broccoli can be eaten with a healthy dip like hummus, or the broccoli flower can be broken into bits to add crunch to a salad, wrap, or sandwich. Broccoli retains most of its nutrition when steamed, rather than boiled. Broccoli can be used in casserole, lasagna, cream of broccoli soup or any other recipe you desire.
Because of broccoli’s reputation as a health food, broccoli powder is available in local health food stores. It consists of freeze-dried broccoli ground into a powder and contains all the benefits of raw broccoli, but magnified. A main benefit being that it contains high levels of glucoraphanin, a phytochemical that can be converted into cancer-fighting sulforaphane.
Cooking With Broccoli
Cooking methods can alter the nutrient content and health benefits of broccoli. Boiling broccoli can leach out up to 90% of it’s valuable nutrients, while steaming, roasting, and stir-frying tend to preserve more of broccoli’s powerful nutrients.
Looking for a different way to enjoy broccoli? Try it roasted! You can also sauté broccoli with other vegetables, rice noodles (or just plain rice) and coconut aminos (or braggs!) in a large hot skillet for a spectacular asian-style dish.
- Choose the best broccoli by looking for bright green stems and avoiding any broccoli with yellowing or open florets.
- To get the best of broccoli nutrition, keep your unwashed broccoli fresh and crisp by storing it in your vegetable crisper in a loose, perforated bag, and try to use it within a few days.
Broccoli is a polarizing superfood. It’s one of those foods that you either like or dislike. If you fall into the latter camp, it may be because you have only tried this cruciferous vegetable in a way that is appealing to you. Try something new with this superfood and you just might jump on the ‘I love broccoli’ train!