Benefits of Broccoli

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In the world of healthy vegetables broccoli is known to be one of the most nutritious foods. Broccoli contains a rich source of biochemicals, vitamins and minerals that have been strongly linked to many health benefits such as cancer fighting properties, diabetes protection and antioxidant properties. Just to name a few, here are some health benefits associated with this nutrient packed vegetable.

B Group Vitamins
Broccoli is rich in folate, the B vitamin that is essential to prevent birth defects. Neural tube defects such as spina bifida have been linked to folic acid deficiency in pregnancy. A single cup of raw broccoli provides more than 50mg of folate (the plant form of folic acid).

Eye Health
Broccoli is rich in vitamin C as well as the powerful phytochemical carotenoid antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. High levels of these two carotenoids are found in the lens and retina of the eye. Studies have shown that people who eat broccoli more than twice per week had a 23% lower risk of cataracts when compared to those who ate broccoli less that once per month. Lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin C also help to protect the eyes from free radical damage from ultraviolet lights.

Fibre
Broccoli is a good source of fibre, which helps to lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar levels and facilitates digestion.

Anti-Inflammatory
Broccoli is a rich source of the flavonoid ‘kaempferol’, which has been strongly linked to battle allergies and inflammation.

Anti-Cancer
Broccoli contains several compounds called isothiocyanates, including sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which have been strongly linked as being anti-cancer agents in recent years. Studies have shown these substances may act as anti-oxidants and may boost detoxifying enzymes in the body. Some studies have also suggested they may balance the levels of estrogen in the body, which may reduce breast cancer risk.

Protein
Broccoli is an excellent source of plant protein. Its protein content is 34% of its dry matter, one cup of chopped broccoli can provide you with about 4 grams of highly absorbable protein.

Heart Health
The carotenoid ‘lutein’ found in broccoli helps prevent heart disease by preventing the thickening of arteries. Broccoli also supplies a significant source of vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting and also contributes to bone health. In addition broccoli is one of the few vegetables, along with spinach that are relatively high in coenzyme Q10 , a fat soluble vitamin that is a major contributor to the production of energy in our bodies.

Calcium
One cup of broccoli contains approximately 41mg of calcium and 79mg vitamin C. While this is not a massive amount, the vitamin C strongly enhances the absorption of the calcium. Calcium is known to strengthen and promote bone growth and health, and therefore also assists in the prevention of osteoporosis.

Want to add more broccoli to your diet?
Try eating it raw in salads, smoothies, or juiced studies have proven that the nutrient levels are alot higher when eaten raw. Alternatively include it in stir fries, omelettes or any dish but try avoid overcooking it to retain as many nutrients as possible.

Sources:
http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/dietandnutrition/broccoli
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111011112501.htm

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