It turns out the love-it-or-hate-it cruciferous veggie that’s prevented countless young children from earning their dessert has an extensive amount of health benefits. Don’t limit broccoli’s merit to just the head- broccoli stalks, leaves, and sprouts are not to be taken lightly. The next time you see a grocery store selling broccoli heads without the rest of the good stuff, keep walking.
Health Benefits of Broccoli
1. Broccoli is a great source of glucoraphanin, which your body converts into sulforaphane, an antioxidant, as it digests (1). Sulforaphane can help control cholesterol levels and fight oxidative stress (2).
2. It’s also very high in antioxidants like vitamin C. vitamin K, lutein, and zeaxanthin (3), as well as flavonoids, which are anti-inflammatories (4 , 5). The high vitamin C content can also help to support a healthy immune system.
3. Researchers have found evidence for cancer protective properties in broccoli against cancers of the breast, prostate, stomach, colorectal, kidney, and bladder (6).
4. Broccoli sprouts could help some people to decrease insulin resistance associated with type 2 diabetes (7).
6. Sulforaphane has also been found to be liver supportive. Its antioxidant activity is thought to help improve liver function by reducing oxidative stress (10). Broccoli sprouts are one of the most concentrated sources of glucoraphanin (which converts to sulforaphane), at 1153mg/100g dry weight (11). That’s over 10 times that of mature broccoli (11)!
Is there such a thing as eating too much broccoli?
A strong argument could be made to consider broccoli a superfood, but we certainly don’t recommend switching to an all-broccoli diet. In fact, eating excessive amounts of broccoli can have harmful effects for some people.
Hypothyroidism: Goitrogenic foods like broccoli can alter your absorption of thyroid hormone T4, and so can be harmful if you have hypothyroidism (12), though moderate amounts are generally considered safe.
Taking blood-thinners: Foods that are high in vitamin K, like broccoli, kale, and spinach, can interfere with anticoagulant drugs (blood-thinners) (13).
Sensitive digestive system: Diets high in cruciferous vegetables tend to cause gas and flatulence. If you suffer from IBS or chronic digestive sensitivities, ask your holistic healthcare provider how many daily servings of cruciferous vegetables is right for your digestive system (14). On the other hand, broccoli can be an excellent natural way to help alleviate constipation (15).
How to prepare broccoli
High temperatures can weaken the nutritional value of broccoli. Opt to eat your broccoli either raw (try with a homemade dip or blend it into a green smoothie) or steamed (and served as a side to a protein).
If you’re steaming broccoli, be sure not to cook it for long. Evidence shows that raw broccoli has tenfold the number of antioxidants compared to broccoli steamed for over three minutes (16).
100g of Raw Broccoli Stalks contains: 93 mg vitamin C, 71 mcg folate, 48 mg calcium, 25 mg magnesium, and 66 mg phosphorous.
100g of Raw Broccoli Head contains: 89 mg vitamin C, 63 mcg folate, 47 mg calcium, 21 mg magnesium, and 66 mg phosphorus.
100 g of Raw Broccoli Leaves contains: 93 mg vitamin C, 72 mcg folate, 47 mg calcium, 25 mg magnesium, 68 mg phosphorus.
Instead of throwing broccoli leaves in the compost, try blending them into a smoothie or adding them to a tossed salad. You can peel and prepare broccoli stalks in the same way you prepare broccoli heads. If you’re steaming them, be sure to add the stalks in a few minutes early to give them extra time to soften up.
Video: Vegan Broccoli Salad
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.
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