Broccoli belongs to the cabbage family and is a cruciferous vegetable. Oftentimes it is eaten raw, steamed or boiled and is also a popular ingredient in soups, salads, and casseroles. Like many cruciferous vegetables, the body assimilates the nutritional content when broccoli is steamed, as this helps break down the fibrous portions of the vegetable, which contain the most nutrition.
In addition to fresh and frozen, broccoli is available in other forms, which include methods of freeze-drying and/or air-drying. Fortunately, with the advancement of technology, this process maintains the nutritional integrity of the vegetable and also makes long-term storage and cooking versatility much easier and just as flavorful.
Like most fruits and vegetables, broccoli contains vitamins and antioxidants, but it also contains a high content of calcium. Its calcium content is actually higher than a glass of milk and dairy free for those who have dairy allergies or live a vegan lifestyle. It is also a great source of fiber and selenium.
Broccoli contains as much vitamin C as a single orange without the natural sugars, which are often avoided in a weight loss regimen. It also contains vitamin K, folate and has many anti-inflammatory properties. Other benefits include the following:
- Helps Prevent Cancer: The National Cancer Institute has conducted extensive research into broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables and found that the glucosinolates found in broccoli have anticancer properties. Broccoli also contains a form of organic sulfur called sulforaphane, which helps support the normal functioning of cells and keep them healthy longer. Eating 3 single servings of broccoli each week reduces the risk of cancer by an incredible 60%.
- Promotes Healthy Bones and Teeth: With the content of vitamin K, calcium and folate present in broccoli, consuming the green cruciferous vegetable can help promote healthy teeth and bones.
- Improves Digestion: Due to the amount of fiber in broccoli, it will help improve digestion and reduce the risk of colon cancer, digestive issues, and inflammation.
- Supports a Healthy Liver: Broccoli has been proven to prevent fatty liver disease. It contains natural enzymes that help detoxify the liver.
- Helps Maintain a Healthy Heart: As previously mentioned, extensive research on the benefits of broccoli have been conducted and it has also been found that by eating broccoli, it improves the heart function as well as pumping blood throughout the body. In addition to this, the antioxidants prevent damage due to oxidative stress and the fiber helps support healthy cholesterol levels.
- Reduces the Occurrence of Allergies: By consuming broccoli, it reduces allergic responses that commonly occur in nasal passages and protect airways from the negative effects of free radicals.
- Improves Skin Health: Because of the vitamin C content found in broccoli, it can actually help improve the skin’s complexion and increase the production of collagen, which helps prevent wrinkles.
Broccoli is native to Italy and was once called Italian Asparagus. History indicates that the Etruscans, an ancient civilization in Italy that was revered for their horticultural expertise, created broccoli by mixing another plant with cabbage.
Broccoli was first introduced to the United States in the early 1700s and the US began commercial production of it around 1920 when immigrants of southern Italy brought it over. The full history is unclear on broccoli but fortunately, thanks to science and research the nutritional values have been discovered so people worldwide can benefit from them.