The Goodness of Broccoli

The Goodness of Broccoli

This miracle vegetable needs some introduction. Broccoli?? Most of you might not even have heard of it. It is the most popular vegetable in western countries. Botanically, broccoli belongs to the cabbage family, collectively known as cruciferous vegetables. The vegetable is newly cultivated in India for its vital food reserves. Though this popular vegetable is available throughout the year, you will get fresh florets during its season between October and April.

Research has shown that broccoli has all sorts of wonderful properties that can help you live a longer and healthier life. It is full of antioxidants, is packed with vitamins and minerals, and is full of fiber; at the same time, it has very few calories. All those things are just plain healthy. Now, added to that list, scientists are telling us that, sulphoraphane, an ingredient in broccoli may help to reverse or prevent some of the damage that diabetes can cause.

But the real punch packed by broccoli is its potent cancer-fighting ingredients. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore have determined that broccoli is rich in substances called isothiocyanates—chemicals shown to stimulate the body’s production of its own cancer-fighting substances, which are called phase two enzymes. Another substance in broccoli, indole-3-carbinol (I3C), seems to alter estrogen levels and may also raise levels of protective enzymes in the body. Several studies have shown it may slow or stop the growth of breast, prostate, and other cancer cells.

Broccoli's noteworthy nutrients include vitamin C, vitamin A (mostly as beta-carotene), folic acid, calcium, and fiber. Broccoli contains high levels of both calcium and vitamin K, both of which are important for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis. While the calcium content of one serving doesn't equal that of a glass of milk, broccoli is an important calcium source for those who don't consume dairy products.

Beta-carotene and vitamin C are important antioxidants that have been linked to a reduced risk of numerous conditions, including cataracts, heart disease, and several cancers.

Broccoli is a fiber find. Not only is it a rich source, but half of its fiber is insoluble and half is soluble, helping to meet your needs for both types of fiber. But the story doesn't end with broccoli's rich array of nutrients. Broccoli provides a health bonus in the form of protective substances that may shield you from disease.

Okay, you’re convinced now, right? (Right??) Next time don't forget to add it to your grocery shopping list. Always cook in little to no water so you don't wash away all the vitamins and power of this superfood!