Broccoli is a green vegetable that resembles a miniature tree. This cruciferous vegetable is closely related to cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale. It is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet. Why should you incorporate broccoli into your diet? To answer this question, we will discuss the 10 incredible health benefits of broccoli.
Health Benefits of Broccoli
1. Packed with vitamins and minerals
One cup of broccoli contains roughly the following amount of nutrients:
• Vitamin C – 135% of the RDI
• Vitamin K – 116% of the RDI
• Vitamin B9 (Folate) – 14% of the RDI
• Vitamin A – 11% of the RDI
• Potassium – 8% of the RDI
• Phosphorus – 6% of the RDI
• Selenium – 3% of the RDI
• Protein – 2.6 grams
• Carbohydrates – 6 grams
• Fiber – 2.4 grams
• Fat – 0.3 gram
2. Protection from chronic disease
High fiber intake is associated with a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. The bioactive compounds in broccoli have been shown to reduce inflammation in body tissues. Additionally, eating foods rich in fiber like broccoli may lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and aid weight loss.
3. May protect against some types of cancer
Eating cruciferous vegetables like broccoli may help protect you from certain types of cancer (colon, lung, breast, prostate, and kidney). Studies have suggested that sulforaphane is what gives broccoli its cancer-fighting ability. Sulforaphane can inhibit an enzyme called histone deacetylase (HDAC), which is involved in the progression of cancer cells. Its ability to stop HDAC could make sulforaphane helpful in the prevention of cancer.
Folate found in broccoli has also been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Adequate intake of folate (vitamin B9) may also protect against colon, pancreatic, and cervical cancers.
4. Promotes a healthy digestive system
Eating foods with natural fiber such as broccoli helps maintain a healthy digestive tract, prevent constipation, and reduce the risk of colon cancer. Adequate intake of fiber promotes regularity, which is crucial for the excretion of toxins through bile and stool. Aside from fiber, broccoli contains antioxidants that also support a healthy digestive system.
5. Improves bone health
Poor vitamin K intake is linked to a higher risk of bone fracture. Consuming adequate amounts of vitamin K promotes bone health by improving calcium absorption. One cup of broccoli contains 92 micrograms of vitamin K, over 100% of your daily requirement. Broccoli also contains calcium, providing 43 mg in one cup. Additionally, this vegetable contains vitamin A, vitamin C, phosphorus, and zinc. These nutrients support healthy bones and help prevent bone-related disorders.
6. Contains antioxidants that offer health-protective effects
Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit cell damage caused by free radicals. Broccoli is rich in glucoraphanin, a compound which is converted into an antioxidant called sulforaphane during digestion. Animal studies indicate that sulforaphane may reduce cholesterol levels, blood sugar, oxidative stress, and chronic disease. But more research is needed to determine its role in humans. Broccoli also contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that fights oxidative stress and may help prevent cellular damage in the eyes.
7. Good for the skin
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help fight sun damage, reduce wrinkles, and improve skin texture. This vitamin plays an essential role in the formation of collagen. Vitamins A and E are also good for the skin, both of which are found in broccoli. More importantly, the bioactive compounds in broccoli may help protect against ultraviolet radiation damage from the sun, which can cause skin cancer.
8. May aid blood sugar control
Eating broccoli may aid better blood sugar control in people who have diabetes. This may be due to broccoli’s antioxidant content. One study done on people with type 2 diabetes who consumed broccoli daily for one month experienced decreased insulin resistance.
Also, broccoli is a good source of fiber. Some studies indicate that a higher intake of dietary fiber can be associated with lower blood sugar and improved diabetic control.
9. May help slow the aging process
Aging is largely attributed to reduced metabolic function and oxidative stress. Though aging is a natural process, diet is thought to be a contributing factor to the development of age-related diseases. Sulforaphane, a bioactive compound in broccoli, may be able to slow the aging process by increasing the expression of antioxidant genes.
10. Vitamin C content supports a healthy immune system
The human immune system requires nutrients to function properly. Vitamin C is probably the most important nutrient for immune function — and this healthy green vegetable is loaded with it. Research shows that vitamin C plays a role in the prevention and treatment of various diseases. A daily intake of 100 to 200 mg of this vitamin may be sufficient to prevent certain infections. Including broccoli as part of a healthy diet is a good idea, since a half-cup of cooked broccoli contains about 84% of the RDI for vitamin C.
Broccoli is a vegetable that is full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Among the health benefits of broccoli are protection against chronic diseases, promotion of a healthy digestive system, improvement of bone health, and boosting of the immune system, just to name a few. There are many ways of cooking broccoli such as boiling, steaming, microwaving, and stir-frying. Some of this vegetable’s nutrients may be lost due to heat. If you want to preserve as much of its nutritional value, steaming is your best option.