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Broccoli – Health Benefits, Nutrition, Side Effects and Recipes

Plants are a source of nutrition and contain essential vitamins and minerals. One of the plant-based vegetables, broccoli, is a superfood due to its numerous health benefits. Broccoli is scientifically known as Brassica oleracea. It belongs to the cabbage family (Brassicaceae). In addition, it is one of the most promising and nutritious cruciferous vegetables. 

Broccoli originated from the eastern Mediterranean. Then, it became popular in Italy. Although it has been a native of Italy for more than 2000 years, it grows worldwide.

Broccoli is a winter-specific vegetable and is generally unavailable in the summer. However, it grows well in a temperature ranging between 18°C to 23°C.

It resembles a miniature tree, and there are three main varieties:

Calabrese broccoliSprouting broccoliPurple cauliflower

Broccoli is an assortment of edible flowers. These flowers (heads) spread out from a thick edible stalk and resemble a tree structure. They have dark green florets with light green stalks. However, you should avoid any broccoli with a yellowish discoloration while buying.

Broccoli is a source of essential nutrients vitamin A, C & riboflavin. It is also high in iron and calcium.

Broccoli is also very low in calories and rich in dietary fibres and antioxidants. Therefore, adding broccoli to your daily diet may help prevent various ailments.

Physical Structure of Broccoli

Fresh broccoli is a dark green that grows 60–90 cm (24–35 inches) tall. It is jam-packed with clusters of green flower buds at the ends of the central axis and the branches. It thrives in moderate to cool climates, and the flowers harvest in two to three months, depending on the range of weather.

The Indian variety comes in sprouting broccoli containing immature green buds and thick fleshy flower stalks forming a head. The primary types are KTS-I, Solan Green, Lucky, Fiesta, Pushpa, Aishwarya, PalamVichitra.

Uses of Broccoli

Broccoli has immense medicinal properties; the parts that grow above the ground make medicines. In addition, it is popular in the therapeutic system for its chemical properties that have cancer-preventing and antioxidant effects. It is a cure for high cholesterol, fibromyalgia, and also prevents several types of cancer and other conditions.

Nutritional Properties of Broccoli

Broccoli is a highly nutritious vegetable, low in carbs and has many essential vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and phytonutrients.

Primary nutrients per 100 gm of broccoli:

Energy: 34 kcalCarbohydrate: 6.64 g Protein: 2.82 gTotal Fat: 0.37gCholesterol : 0 mg Dietary Fibre: 2.60 g 

Vitamins:

Vitamin C: 89.2mgVitamin K: 0.17mgVitamin B9: 63 mcgVitamin B3: 0.639 mcg Vitamin B5: 0.573 mcgVitamin B6: 0.175 mcgVitamin B2: 0.117 mcgVitamin B1: 0.071 mcgVitamin A: 623 IUVitamin E: 101.6 mcg 

Minerals:

Calcium: 47 mg Copper: 0.049mg Iron: 0.73mg Magnesium: 21mg Manganese: 0.210mg Selenium 2.5mcg Zinc 0.41mg Phosphorus: 66 mg

Electrolytes and phytonutrients per 100gm of broccoli:

Sodium: 33 mgPotassium: 316 mcg β-carotene:  361 mcgβ-crypto-xanthan: 1 mcgLutein-zeaxanthin: 1403 mcg

Broccoli is one of the most beneficial raw vegetables. Many health coaches recommend its intake due to its high nutrition content. Along with it, it is a rich source of antioxidants and effectively fights free radicals.

Broccoli is also a rich source of dietary fibre, protein, and essential vitamins like A, C, and E, which are critical components in any healthy diet.

15 Proven Health Benefits of Broccoli

Dietary use of broccoli encourages biological and metabolic activities. Therefore, it is overall very beneficial for the whole human body. 

1. Control Blood Sugar Levels

Broccoli is anti-diabetic and a powerhouse of antioxidants and essential nutrients. 

The most healthy variant of broccoli is its sprout form. The antioxidants in broccoli sprouts decrease stress to cells and repair pancreatic cells. As a result, it increases insulin secretion and brings down blood glucose levels.

Studies suggest that broccoli sprouts improve insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes. Hence, consuming fresh broccoli sprouts reduces blood glucose levels and controls blood sugar levels. 

2. Aids in Weight Loss 

Broccoli is a rich source of fibre and contains anti-diabetic activity. As a result, it promotes insulin sensitivity and aids in weight loss. Insulin resistance is when the body’s insulin does not absorb glucose. It is significant for weight gain. Broccoli reduces insulin resistance and aids weight loss.

Moreover, broccoli has various phytochemicals, known as bioactive compounds. These are effective in weight management.

These bioactive compounds target fat cells in your body and reduce fat. Thus, broccoli helps significant weight loss due to ethanol, chloroform and other active extracts. As per research, ethanol and chloroform have anti-obesity properties, and they aid in weight loss.

3. Gastroprotective Action 

Gastric infections with Helicobacter pylori (bacteria) are common. These infections result in an alarming risk of gastric cancer. 

Broccoli is a rich source of glucoraphanin. It converts into bioactive anti-cancer compounds like sulforaphane glucosinolate. These active compounds are bacteriostatic and act as antitumor agents. Thus, broccoli is a dietary form of protection against stomach ulcers and induced tumours.

Interestingly, sprouted broccoli contains 20 times more Sulforaphane Glucosinolate (SGS) than the full-grown vegetable. So, if you want to prevent gastric conditions, add an adequate amount of broccoli (sprout form) to your daily diet.

4. Anti-cancer Properties

Broccoli has excellent anti-cancer properties. It is one of the most potent anti-carcinogenic vegetables due to its uncountable bioactive compounds. The anti-cancer compounds present in broccoli are:

Glucosinolates (broken down into compounds like indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates and isothiocyanates)DiindolylmethaneSeleniumIndole-3-CarbinolSulforaphane, a derivative of glucoraphanin

The biologically active elements curb the bladder, breast, liver, lung, prostate, renal, crown-gall, oral, colon, and skin cancers. They safeguard cells from DNA damage.

DNA damage results from oxidative stress, mutation, or environmental changes. Moreover, they help to deactivate free radicals and carcinogens.

These compounds also incite programmed cell death (apoptosis) and ensure the normal functioning of the human body. In addition, they also restrict tumour formation.

A laboratory study suggests that broccoli lowers the cases of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia cells. Hence, broccoli contains both prophylactic and medicinal properties.

Another study strengthens the claim that eating broccoli every day can reduce the risk of some cancers.

5. Fight Against Infectious Diseases 

Broccoli is not only anti-carcinogenic. It also has antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Various bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites lead to infectious conditions.

Studies show the presence of antimicrobial peptides in broccoli leaves and flowers. Broccoli extracts also include Ethyl acetate and chloroform, which are beneficial against various species of bacteria. 

Broccoli also contains effective organic acids such as ascorbic and malic acids, which are antibacterial.

As per another study, 3,3’-diindolylmethane, a constituent of broccoli, is a potent modulator. It provides intrinsic immunity against viral and bacterial infections.

6. Fights Against Inflammation 

Broccoli contains anti-inflammatory agents. Inflammation may result from the circulation of excess Plasma C reactive proteins in the body.

Reviews on broccoli show a decrease in plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) levels by 48%. It means consuming broccoli helps reduce inflammation. 

Broccoli also contains kaempferol, a flavonoid with potent anti-inflammatory abilities. Besides this, sulforaphane in broccoli is a therapeutic tool that prevents rheumatoid arthritis.

Similarly, other scientific studies claim that broccoli’s chemical composition makes it anti-inflammatory.

7. Rich in Antioxidants

Broccoli is a powerhouse of antioxidants. It contains essential vitamins like A, C, K, E and B-complex, leading to improved antioxidant status in stressed patients. In case of any of these vitamins deficiency, you should add broccoli to your diet.

Studies show that broccoli has the potential to lower oxidative stress levels. It is because of antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which prevent cellular injury and improve eyesight.

Broccoli also contains ascorbic acid and polyphenols that protect the Red Blood Cell Membranes by eradicating free radicals.

Hence, broccoli’s active ingredients and chemical extracts decrease the DNA damage by absorbing the oxygen radicals.  

8. Liver Protection

Broccoli extracts protect the liver and help remove toxins from the body. It also reduces the actions of serum enzymes and bilirubin, which may harm your liver. 

Carbon tetrachloride induces oxidative stress and forms reactive free radicals. Therefore, it may lead to liver damage. However, consuming broccoli helps fight against carbon tetrachloride in the liver.

Studies also suggest that broccoli offers protection against toxin build-up in the liver. Therefore, you can use it as a treatment in some liver conditions. It is due to its positive effects on liver cells. In addition, flavonoids and sulfurated combinations in broccoli also help prevent liver damage.

9. Improvement in Heart Health

Cardiovascular diseases are rampant and one of the most common causes of fatality. Fibre-rich broccolis are full of sulforaphane. It reduces oxidative free radical injury.

Consumption of broccoli is effective against heart ailments like hypertension and stroke. Broccoli lowers LDL levels, serum cholesterol and triglycerides. It also improves HDL levels, resulting in lowering coronary heart disease risk.

The detoxifying impact of antioxidants makes broccoli cardioprotective and prevents harmful stimuli in the heart. Hence, it is safe to say that broccoli helps improve heart health.

10. Promotes Digestion 

Good gut bacteria and fibre ensure a healthy bowel. Broccoli is a rich source of fibre and antioxidants. Thus, fibre rich food like broccoli helps improve gut function and prevents constipation.

Broccoli also consists of anti-inflammatory properties that restore the healthy resident bacterias of the colon and enhance bowel frequency.  

11. Potent Immunomodulatory Actions 

Broccoli is a rich constituent of sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. As a result, it consists of potent immunomodulatory functions. 

Few studies prove that broccoli consumption may increase white blood cells and macrophages and significantly decrease inflammatory cytokine levels.

It helps improve innate immune response by increasing the production of new bone marrow cells and antibodies. Besides, sulforaphane in broccoli consists of certain immunomodulatory positive functions.

12. Helps With Healthy Pregnancy 

A pregnant mother needs nutrition, and broccoli offers many of them. As a result, it positively affects the mother and baby’s growth and development. Broccoli is a constituent of B-complex vitamins. These vitamins enhance a growing baby’s health.

Anaemia is one of the expected traits in women during pregnancy. However, adding broccoli to your daily diet may prevent it. Following, studies show that broccoli promotes the brain and cognitive development of the baby.

13. Prevents Premature Ageing and Sun Damage 

Extreme exposure to UV rays can make our skin carcinogenic. The alarming rise in skin cancer is due to the depletion of the ozone layer, pollution and expected global warming.

All these environmental changes may result in premature ageing and sun damage and the accumulation of reactive free radicals promotes oxidative stress. 

Broccoli’s essential bioactive compound, sulforaphane, protects against UV radiation and carcinogenic mutations on the skin.

As a result, it is effective in barring tumour formation. Studies also suggest that including broccoli in your daily diet improves metabolic functions of the body.

14. Improves Bone and Joint Health

As per studies, broccoli helps improve bone and joint health. It is a rich vitamin K, C, A, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc source. These are crucial nutrients that help strengthen bones and joints.

Along with this, antioxidant sulforaphane in broccoli may prevent osteoarthritis. However, there is no conclusive evidence to prove the same.

15. Enhances Oral Health 

The vitamin C, calcium and kaempferol in broccoli help maintain oral and dental health.

How Does Broccoli Help with Weight Loss?

It has a connection in aiding weight loss. Many consume its dark green florets and the stalk; some of the reasons for this are:

Broccoli is a fibre-rich vegetable. High fibrous foods tend to slow down the rate of digestion. The soluble fibre absorbs water and creates a gel in your digestive tract, thereby making you feel “full” for long. Moreover, ghrelin is a particular hormone that signals your body when it’s hungry. The fibre also helps to reduce the secretion of ghrelin, further suppressing your appetite.Consuming small portions of it can promote a feeling of fullness for long hours.It is shallow in calories, which allows for their intake in larger quantities as well. Therefore, it makes an excellent option to snack.Broccoli is 90% water and has supporting nutrients that play their role in weight loss.It contains a negligible amount of fats, which is an added advantage.

Healthy Recipes Using Broccoli

Broccoli has numerous health benefits. However, these benefits may diminish on boiling the vegetable. Therefore, preparation methods play a crucial role.

#1 Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli

Servings: 4

Preparation Time: 10 minutes 

Ingredients:

Broccoli (cut into bite-size florets): 1Extra-virgin olive oil – 1 teaspoonSea salt – 1 teaspoon Ground black pepper – ½ teaspoonGarlic – 1 cloveLemon juice – ½ teaspoon

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit Mix broccoli florets with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, pepper and minced garlic in a bowl.Put them evenly on a baking sheet. Bake the florets for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Continue unless they are adequately soft. Prick the stalks with a knife to check.Now, transfer the dish to a serving plate. Add enough lemon juice for a refreshing, tangy flavour.

#2 Stir-fried Broccoli  

Servings: 4

Preparation Time: 10 mins

Ingredients:

Broccoli (cut into florets of medium sizes) – 1 big sizeOlive oil – 1 tablespoonRed pepper flakes – ½ teaspoon crushed Salt – As per taste Lemon and oregano (optional)

Method:

Rinse broccoli florets and dry themHeat the olive oil in a large frying pan (normal heat)Put red pepper and oregano and sizzle it for 1 minute. Swirl the broccoli in the pan for 5-7 minutes.Once cooked and crispy, season with salt and lemon.Serve hot

#3 Broccoli spinach soup 

Servings: 2

Preparation time: 20 mins

Ingredients:

Broccoli (cut into florets) – 1 big size Spinach (chopped) – 2 cupsButter – 1 tbsp Water – 1 cupGarlic – 1 cloveSalt and pepper – As per tasteMilk (unsweetened) – 1 cup [to make it keto-friendly, you can use almond or coconut milk ]Almond/Cashew paste – 1 tbspChopped onions – 1/2 cup

Method:

Add butter to a saucepan and let it melt. Then add garlic, and saute for a few seconds until it turns golden brown Now, add onion into the pan and mix till it gets translucent.Add broccoli and cook for 5 minutes. Put some water and cover it for 2-3 minutes till it gets tender and easily pricked by a fork.Add Spinach, Almond/cashew paste, milk, salt, and pepper and let it blend. Boil the content and turn off the flame.After slightly cooling, put the content in the blender to make a smooth puree out of it.Boil the content for two more minutes, and your soup will be ready.

Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables. You can eat it raw or cooked. However, you need to cook it carefully to prevent nutritional loss. The best way to cook broccoli is to steam, stir-fry or bake them.

However, boiling broccoli breaks down the essential nutritional qualities and generates a strange odour. 

Excessive cooking with salt eliminates the essential enzymes that help break down the nutritional riches into cancer fighters. So, cook your broccoli carefully and enjoy its benefits. 

Broccoli – Precautions and Possible Side Effects

Broccoli is safe to consume and does not have many side effects. However, it may have some probable side effects. 

The high fibres in broccoli may hamper bowel functioning and lead to gas. It happens in the case of overconsumption. However, many cruciferous vegetables can make you gassy, but the health benefits outweigh the discomfort. If you are on prescribed medicines, you should consult your doctor before eating broccoli. Also, people on blood-thinning drugs should avoid eating broccoli because vitamin K in it may reduce the drug’s efficacy.If you have liver issues, you should not overeat broccoli. The presence of various cytochromes in broccoli may alter liver treatment. If you have low iodine levels in the body or stay in an endemic region like mountains, you may be at risk of hypothyroidism. Therefore, you should limit broccoli consumption.

Conclusion 

Broccoli is one of the few underexploited vegetables with many essential nutrients and potent therapeutic value.

It is also low in calories, has abundant fibre, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, which have various health advantages. Therefore, you should add broccoli to your diet.

Broccoli is popular in many countries. However, it is not yet widespread in India. Besides, there is a need for more photochemical research on this superfood.

However, the published reviews show enormous positive capabilities of broccoli towards anti-cancer curative properties that are worth noticing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What are the benefits of broccoli?

A. Broccoli has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, weight loss benefits, amongst many others.

Q. Can you consume broccoli throughout the year?

A. Yes, broccoli is a vegetable that is easily available throughout the year. So, it is safe to be consumed which promotes digestive health.

Q. How to consume broccoli in the right way?

A. Both the florets and stems of broccoli are entirely safe to eat. So, you can power boil them, saute with other vegetables, roast them and even use them raw in salads. 

Q. Is it okay to eat broccoli every day?

A. Yes, it is okay to eat broccoli every day. Daily consumption of broccoli can lower cholesterol levels, support the body’s natural detoxification process, control blood sugar, etc. However, overconsumption of the vegetable is harmful as it may lead to weight gain and constipation.

Q. Should you start your day with broccoli?

A. Starting the day with broccoli has many benefits. It helps to kick-start the metabolism as well as detoxification. It also increases energy levels and keeps one alert.

Q. What does broccoli do to your body?

A. Broccoli is rich in antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress in the body and reduce the risk of degenerative diseases. Along with this, it also has antibacterial and antiviral properties that keep diseases at bay. 

Q. Does broccoli make you gain weight?

A. No, on the contrary, broccoli is a zero-calorie vegetable and it helps in reducing weight. Though overconsumption can lead to weight gain, it isn’t recommended as it may lead to other chronic diseases.

Q. Does broccoli contain seasonal benefits?

A. Broccoli’s consumption in its peak season (fall) reaps benefits since it has a higher vitamin C content than the one grown during the spring.

Q. Is broccoli a Superfood?

A. Yes. Since it contains many nutrients and has a lot of health benefits, we can call it a superfood.  

Q. Who should not eat broccoli?

A. If you have hypothyroidism and are on prescribed medicines, you may seek your doctor’s advice if you wish to include this healthy vegetable in your diet. Also, it belongs to the cruciferous family, so, it may cause bloating and gastric problems in some people. 

Q. Is broccoli the healthiest vegetable?

A. Yes. The wide variety of nutrients, vitamins and fibre content in broccoli makes it one of the healthiest vegetables.

Q. Is broccoli good for skin?

A. Yes, broccoli is loaded with vitamin A, K, C, B that protects your skin and provide a healthy glow. It also consists of lutein which is a carotenoid that helps against oxidative damage. 

Q. Is broccoli good for females?

A. Yes. It has several benefits for women. Every 100 gram serving of broccoli contains 47 mg of calcium, so it strengthens bones in women and also prevents osteoporosis in pregnant women.  

Q. Can broccoli make you fat? 

A. Excessive consumption of broccoli can add some extra kilos to your weight. 

Q. Is broccoli good for your stomach?

A. Yes, broccoli has an abundance of fibre and antioxidants. It is good for the stomach as it has a gastro-protective effect and aids bowel function. 

Q. Is broccoli a carb or protein?

A. Broccoli is low in both nutrients. A 100 gram serving of broccoli contains 6.64 grams of carbohydrates and 2.82 grams of protein.

Q. How much protein is in 100 grams of broccoli?

A. A serving, i.e. 100 grams of broccoli contains 2.82 grams of protein. 

Q. How many carbs are in 100 grams of broccoli?

A. A serving, i.e. 100 grams of broccoli contains 6.64 grams of carbohydrates.

Q. What is the nutritional value of broccoli steamed?

A. 100 grams of steamed broccoli contains 34 kcal Energy, 6.64 g carbohydrates, 2.82 g of protein, 0.37 g of fat and 2.60 g of fibre. 

Q. How many calories are 250 grams of broccoli?

A. 250 grams of broccoli contain 85 calories.

Q. How many calories are there in broccoli?

A. A single serving of broccoli, i.e. 100 grams contains 34 calories.

Q. Is broccoli a Superfood?

A. We can say that broccoli is a superfood without any doubts as it is low in calories and rich in antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients.

Q. What does broccoli do to your body?

A. Broccoli enhances your health and makes you more fit by providing the proper nutrients that your body needs.

Q. Who should not eat broccoli?

A. Since broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, people with a thyroid disorder should avoid such vegetables.

Q. Can broccoli make you fat?

A. Broccoli helps in weight loss, digestion and prevents constipation. Hence, it is improbable that eating broccoli will make you fat.

Q. Is it better to eat broccoli raw or cooked?

A. You can enjoy broccoli raw and cooked. However, research says that gentle steam can be helpful for your health. 

Q. Does broccoli burn belly fat?

A. Sulforaphane, mainly known for reducing belly fat, is present in high amounts in broccoli. Hence, broccoli helps burn belly fat. 

Q. What are the disadvantages of eating broccoli?

A. Broccoli is rich in fibre. Thus, bowel irritation and gas can be the common side effects if you overeat them.  

Q. Can too much broccoli cause problems?

A. It is safe to eat. However, consuming too much broccoli can cause bloating, gas and bowel irritation. 

Q. Is broccoli good for males?

A. Broccoli is perfect for males as it increases muscle strength and can cure many diseases.

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