Find out different broccoli benefits and understand why people dub it a wonder food!
Health Benefits of Broccoli That Prove It’s a Superfood
1. It Helps Detoxify the Body
We’ve all heard of the “an apple a day” idiom—and there is truth to this saying—but what’s this whole broccoli business? Well, it turns out that broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables out there.
Paul Talalay, director of the Laboratory for Molecular Pharmacology at Johns Hopkins, was the first to discover the cancer-fighting property of broccoli.
Broccoli contains a special chemical called sulforaphane glucosinolate. It is also in other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, Brassica oleracea (wild cabbage), and kale.
Animal studies and epidemiological research show it works as a catalyst to boost detoxification enzymes in the body.
The enzymes then trigger a process of detoxification that lasts for at least 72 hours. This is significantly longer than the antioxidant actions of vitamin C, E, and beta carotene!
The compound can also work against cancer-spreading DNA called non-coding RNAs. It stops their gene expression, so it prevents the formation of colonies that trigger metastasis.
Broccoli is rich in indole-3-carbinol, which is another powerful antioxidant. It can also help in cancer prevention.
In a 2018 study, this phytochemical can potentially prevent the spread of breast cancer cells. It can introduce apoptosis or cellular death.
For those of us who want the benefits of this vegetable, but can’t stand the taste, try eating broccoli sprouts. Just one ounce of broccoli sprouts contains more sulforaphane than two pounds of broccoli.
If you want to maximize the health benefits of broccoli sprouts, you can use green blends. It gives you spinach and kale, among others, which all contribute to a healthier body.
Using the blends can also prevent you from eating harmed broccoli, especially by the likes of cabbage loopers.
2. The Broccoli Plant Is Good for the Brain
Since the discovery of sulforaphane’s prevention powers in 1992, U.S. sales of broccoli have doubled. It doesn’t end there, however.
One of the health benefits of eating broccoli is it can help maintain a healthier nervous system, particularly the brain.
It is a good source of vitamin K. A serving size of 1 cup broccoli florets can already give you 220 mcg of the vitamin.
One of the essential nutrients, vitamin K can regulate the calcium present in the brain. It may then reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia characterized by cognitive impairment.
When it comes to raw broccoli benefits, a cup contains 57 mcg of folate, which is nearly 15% of the recommended dietary intake of the nutrient.
Even better, exposing the veggies to high temperatures such as steaming and other similar cooking methods can create more folate.
Folate is also necessary for brain development, especially for babies. It can prevent defects in the neural tubes, which are critical in the formation of the spinal cord and brain.
3. Broccoli May Help Fight Cardiovascular Diseases
Isothiocyanates provide the superfood with anti-inflammatory properties, which are necessary for preventing heart disease.
A 2015 research showed it can stimulate NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), a transcription factor that defends the heart against the effects of oxidative stress.
When a person has high levels of oxidative stress, it means there are more free radicals than antioxidants in the body.
Broccoli also contains amino acids, which can be beneficial for people with heart failure. In fact, the combination of these acids and antioxidants can serve as a multi-nutritional approach to improve the chances of recovery and survival.
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4. Broccoli Can Help in Promoting Weight Loss
It can also regulate blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and boost weight loss. One of the benefits of eating broccoli is that it can result in weight loss which helps you meet your macros, especially protein and carbs.
The calories in broccoli are also low. A serving of a half cup of chopped broccoli will give you 15 calories.
The carbs in broccoli can be around 3 grams while protein is 1 gram. It doesn’t have high levels of fat.
This means the vegetable can provide you with some energy, but it will also keep you feeling full for a longer period because of the protein.
You can also eat it for its dietary fiber. It can help curb hunger and help improve the health of your digestive tract.
The cruciferous family is also efficient in helping reduce cholesterol levels. The soluble fibers of the vegetable bind with bile acids.
These acids are converted to cholesterol, which can potentially clog the arteries. The binding makes it easy for the body to get rid of the extra cholesterol.
5. It May Help People with Glucose Issues
One of the health benefits of broccoli is it’s low on the glycemic index. This means it digests slowly and keeps blood sugar levels stable.
What is the glycemic index? It refers to the system that ranks different foods based on the effects on glucose or blood sugar.
Low-GI foods help us maintain a healthy weight and avoid obesity. If you have problems with overeating, hypoglycemia, diabetes, or high triglyceride and cholesterol levels, it is important to evaluate your diet based on the glycemic index.
For more information, join Dr. Sara Gottfried and Dr. Pedram Shojai’s fun discussion.
6. It Can Reduce the Risks of Eye-Related Diseases
Millions of Americans have eye-related diseases ranging from low vision to glaucoma, where the eye nerves die. By 2030, there might be 4.7 million Americans who will have glaucoma, according to the National Eye Institute.
One of the health benefits of broccoli is delaying the progression or preventing these eye-related diseases. Broccoli is abundant in carotenoids, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin.
These compounds do not only reduce oxidative stress. They further improve the help of the macula, which has the highest concentrations of these substances.
The macula is the retina’s most sensitive part. Severe damage to it can result in permanent vision loss or blindness.
The dark green vegetable also prevents diabetes, a disease that can promote diabetic retinopathy. It is a condition wherein the high levels of glucose gradually destroy the nerves of the eyes.
7. There Are Many Ways to Cook It
Broccoli is not only nutritious food, but it’s also delicious. You can enjoy broccoli benefits in many ways.
You can make a protein casserole composed of Greek yogurt, broccoli, and chicken.
Cooked broccoli from steaming or boiling water makes an excellent ingredient for a veggie salad. Top it with toasted garlic and your favorite dressing, and you have a healthy appetizer.
Of course, you can make some roasted broccoli. You can use your rimmed baking sheet, cut your broccoli, place them on top, drizzle the pieces with olive oil, and sprinkle some salt and pepper.
The list of broccoli health benefits is a long one, so it shouldn’t be a surprise why people call it a superfood.
What’s even more amazing is it can appeal to the taste buds! Broccoli then becomes one of those vegetables you won’t have a hard time feeding your kids.
Broccoli can be pretty expensive, though, so to save money, you can grow its seedlings or transplants. You can also use alkalizing greens as a substitute on days you cannot have the veggie.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 14, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy most recently on April 7, 2021.