Broccoli’s nutritional profile is impressive. It contains high levels of fiber (both soluble and insoluble) and is a rich source of vitamin C. In fact, just a 100 gram serving of broccoli will provide you with more than 150% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which in large doses can potentially shorten the duration of the common cold.
Broccoli is also rich in vitamin A, iron, vitamin K, B-complex vitamins, zinc, phosphorus and phyto-nutrients. Over recent years researchers all over the world have discovered numerous benefits of broccoli, including proper cardiovascular health, cancer prevention and digestive support.
Nutritional Value of Broccoli
The health benefits of broccoli are derived from the unique mixture of nutrients, organic compounds, minerals, and vitamins that are found in broccoli. These include significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, dietary fiber, folate, potassium, selenium, vitamin A, manganese, tryptophan, vitamin B6, and phosphorus. In terms of unique organic compounds, broccoli is a rich source of phytonutrient glucosinolates, flavonoids, and various other antioxidant compounds that boost our health in a major way!
Health Benefits of Broccoli
This popular vegetable has a wide variety of nutritional and medicinal benefits, including its ability to prevent many types of cancer, improve our digestive system, lower cholesterol and detoxify the body.
1. Cancer Prevention
Broccoli contains glucoraphanin, which the body processes into the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane. This compound rids the body of H. pylori, a bacterium found to highly increase the risk of gastric cancer. Furthermore, broccoli contains indole-3-carbinol, a powerful antioxidant compound and anti-carcinogen found to not only hinder the growth of breast, cervical and prostate cancer, but also boosts liver function.
Broccoli shares these cancer fighting, immune boosting properties with other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Broccoli
Broccoli is a great anti-inflammatory and may slow down the damage to joints associated with osteoarthritis. A 2013 study at the University of East Anglia found that broccoli’s sulforaphane may help people suffering from arthritis because this chemical “blocks the enzymes that cause joint destruction by stopping a key molecule known to cause inflammation.”
Broccoli’s isothiocyanates and omega-3 fatty acids also help to regulate inflammation. Furthermore, a 2010 study published in the journal Inflammation Researcher suggested that the flavonoid kaempferol lessens the impact of allergens, especially in the intestinal tract, which can reduce chronic inflammation.
3. Enhances Detoxification
Most toxins that pose a risk to our cells must be detoxified in our body by a 2-step process. What’s remarkable about broccoli is its ability to alter activity in both of these two detox steps. Isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from the glucosinolates in broccoli are well-documented modifiers of the first step in detoxification.
4. Respiratory Relief
According to a research published in the March 2009 edition of the journal “Clinical Immunology,” sulforaphane — a chemical found abundantly in broccoli and broccoli sprouts — may help protect against respiratory inflammation that leads to conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and allergic rhinitis. The compound sulforaphane augments the production of antioxidant enzymes in the airway, providing protection against the assault of free radicals that you breathe in daily in tobacco smoke, diesel exhaust, polluted air and pollen.
5. Digestive Benefits of Broccoli
The digestive support provided by broccoli falls into two basic categories: fiber support, and ITC (isothiocyanate) support. At approximately 1 gram of dietary fiber for every 10 calories, you don’t have to eat much broccoli to get a large amount of your daily requirement! For 100 calories—only 5% of a 2,000-calorie diet—you get about 10 grams of fiber, or 40% of the Daily Value (DV). And, 250 calories of broccoli (about 12% of a 2,000-calorie diet) will give you the full daily requirement for this important nutrient! Few components of food support our digestive system as well as fiber. The speed that food travels through us, the consistency of food as it moves through our intestine, and bacterial populations in our intestine are all supported as well as regulated by dietary fiber.
6. Cardiovascular Benefits of Broccoli
Although research in this area is still in the early stages, anti-inflammatory substances found in cruciferous vegetables are becoming the topic of increasing interest with respect to heart disease. One particular focus here involves the anti-inflammatory properties of sulforaphane, one of the isothiocyanates (ITCs) derived from the glucoraphanin in broccoli. In some individuals susceptible to high blood sugar, sulforaphane may be able to prevent (or even reverse) some of the damage to blood vessel linings that can be cause by chronic blood sugar problems. Decreased risk of heart attacks and strokes may also eventually be linked in a statistically significant way to intake of broccoli and its glucoraphanin.
A second area you can count on broccoli for cardiovascular support involves its cholesterol-lowering ability.
7. Anti-Aging and Immunity Benefits
Sulforaphane also seems to stimulate a variety of antioxidant defense pathways in your body that can directly reduce oxidative stress and slow down the decline in your immune system that happens with age. In theory, this means that eating vegetables that contain sulforaphane, such as broccoli, could quite literally slow down the hands of time.
Maintains a healthier nervous system. This can be attributed to its high potassium content. This works not only in maintaining a healthier nervous system but also in allowing the human brain to function optimally. It also works in promoting the regular growth of muscles.
8. Skin Health Benefits of Broccoli
Eating broccoli is a great way to give your skin a health boost. Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C, with one cup of chopped raw broccoli providing a whopping 135% of the daily value for vitamin C. Researchers have associated a low intake of vitamin C with dry and wrinkled skin. The ability of foods rich in vitamin C, such as broccoli, to prevent wrinkles is linked to the role vitamin C plays in collagen production and in the antioxidant system of the body. In addition to vitamin C, broccoli delivers several other nutrients that offer benefits for the skin: carotene and coenzyme Q10 provide additional antioxidant protection, while alpha lipoic acid helps prevent the hardening of collagen.
9. Broccoli Protects from Bruising
Supercharged with both vitamin C and vitamin K, broccoli is often included in anti-bruising diets. Vitamin K is required for normal blood clotting, and a lack of vitamin K in the diet has been linked to increased bruising. Vitamin C, in turn, helps fight excessive bruising of the skin by strengthening the small blood vessels.
10. Weight Loss Benefits of Broccoli
Broccoli is no doubt one of the best foods for people who are looking to lose weight. Broccoli is very low in calories and contains less than 1% fat. What’s more, vitamin C – which is abundant in raw and lightly steamed broccoli – has been shown to enhance the body’s fat burning capabilities during a workout. A study from Arizona State University found that folks with low blood concentrations of vitamin C burned 25 percent less fat during a 60-minute walking session on a treadmill than people with adequate levels of vitamin C. The body uses vitamin C to make carnitine, a compound that encourages the body to turn fat into fuel, rather than store it as body fat.
11. Eye Care and Cataracts
Zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin A, phosphorus and other vitamins such as B complex, C and E found in broccoli are very good for ocular health. These substances protect eyes against macular degeneration and cataracts, while also repairing damage done from by radiation.
12. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Broccoli is rich in various nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids. Recent research suggests that intake of diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce or delay onset of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
13. Fights Anemia
Anemia is directly related to a lack of iron and certain proteins. Broccoli is rich in both of these and hence forms an excellent remedy against anemia. Eat them and feel the blood surge powerfully through your body, rich with oxygen to keep your systems functioning at a high level. Copper is also found in broccoli which is another essential mineral in the production of red blood cells, along with iron.
14. Pregnancy Power Food
Since broccoli is so nutritious and is full of nutrients essential for pregnant women, such as proteins, calcium, vitamins, antioxidants, detoxifiers, iron, phosphorus and others, it is an ideal component of any diet for them. Being rich in fiber, this will also eliminate constipation, which is very common during pregnancy. Furthermore, the folate content in broccoli ensures that there are no birth defects, such as neural tube defects, which are a major problem for pregnant mothers who have a folic acid deficiency in their diet.
15. Broccoli Strengthens Bones
Studies have shown that broccoli contains more calcium than most dairy products therefore helping to build bone mass. Great news for lactose intolerant people (and there are a lot of us out there) as obtaining sufficient calcium can be difficult for those not consuming dairy products.