Broccoli is a staple vegetable within my cooking. It is a member of the Brassica genus, which also includes cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Romanesco, Brussels sprouts and others. It has a large flowering head and a fibrous, but edible stalk, which make it look like a tree. Romans in Italy originally cultivated them and then “exported” them to other countries. Today, modern farming produces millions of tonnes of broccoli every year.
It is a highly nutritious vegetables with many health benefits. 1 cup of broccoli may contain 245% of your NRV of vitamin K, 130% of vitamin C, 53% of chromium, 42% of folate. It also has B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and packed with fibre. It also contains other metabolites that have many biochemical functions, like alkalizing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and detoxifying.
In more details:
We known that diseases, like cancer, thrives in an acidic body environment, caused by dietary and life-style patterns. Broccoli are highly alkaline and therefore support an optimal acid-alkaline balance.
Under certain circumstances, like after an injury, our body produces a set of inflammatory molecules, which function is to heal and repair the wound. This process is only beneficial in a short period of time and during an acute healing response. Unfortunately, dietary factors like refined carbohydrates and trans/hydrogenated fats, or lifestyle factors like stress, cigarettes smoke etc, may create a chronic inflammatory response. This can result into serious health issues, including cancer. Isothiocyanates (ITCs), compounds made from glucosinolates found in cruciferous vegetables, help to shut down the inflammatory response.
The primary anti-inflammatory ITC present in broccoli is sulforaphane. Indole-3-carbinol are other ITC metabolized from broccoli. Although, broccoli is not considered a “fatty vegetable” it still contains a dissent amount of omega 3 essential fatty acid. Lack of omegas has been linked to inflammatory pathways, plus a reduction in the capacity to switch off same pathways.
Oxidative stress: free radicals are molecules that carry oxygen inside them. Too much free radicals load my cause oxidative stress and damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules with an uneven number of electrons which can in fact damage cell membrane and our very DNA. Thankfully, nature has it covered. Broccoli has high amounts of some of the best anti-oxidants like vitamin C and E. It also has flavonoids like quercetin, beta-carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin.
Some symptoms and diseases are characterized by sluggish detoxification mechanisms. Broccoli are sulphur-containing vegetables, which is important an important compound to support Phase 2 of the liver detoxification pathways. Also, broccoli high fibre content makes sure to support bowel motility and toxins elimination through our digestive system.
Broccoli may improve cardiovascular health due to their ability to optimize LDL-cholesterol, but mainly for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ability. They may lower homocysteine levels and support energy production due to their B vitamins content, including folate. They may also support vision, because lutein and zeaxanthin play a major role in eye health. Broccoli may also support bone health due to very high amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K transport calcium to the bones and therefore prevent calcium deposit in arteries, gall bladder etc.
Chose organic whenever possible and steaming over boiling. In fact, studies show that steamed broccoli retains more nutrients compared to boiled.
One final thought, you may want to cook broccoli for longer if you have any issues with your thyroid function. This is because broccoli may have goitrogenic effects. Broccoli is a staple food in my cooking as it is packed with nutrients and other compounds which exert incredible health properties.