Broccoli is a dark green leafy vegetable that belongs to Brassica, a plant family that includes kale, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. This vegetable was originated in Italy, where the name ‘broccoli’ is derived from the Italian word broccolo, meaning ‘branch’ and was first cultivated in the 17th or 18th century.
Broccoli is one of the most popular vegetables all over the world that used in a variety of dishes and cuisines. This vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked, but the best ways are to steam or eat them raw as salad, because that preserves the nutrients in it.
Broccoli has long been regarded as one of the super foods that packed with tremendous health benefits. The nutritional value of broccoli can be considered as the powerhouse of iron, protein, calcium, chromium, carbohydrates, vitamin A and vitamin C.
Broccoli also contains important phytochemicals and antioxidants, which fight various illnesses and infections. Some of the proven health benefits of broccoli are as given below:
- Anti-cancer properties
The American Cancer Society recommends eating more broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables because they contain phytochemicals – anti-cancer properties. Epidemiological studies suggest that a diet rich in broccoli can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer such as breast cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer.
- Anti aging properties
Broccoli also has anti aging properties which can reverse the effect of the aging process.
- Aid digestion
Broccoli is rich in fiber, which helps with digestion and works at dealing with or even preventing constipation.
- Acts as detoxifier
The presence of vitamin C, sulfur and certain amino acids make broccoli a very good detoxifier. It helps eliminate free radicals and toxins like uric acid from the body.
- Control diabetes
Broccoli is rich in chromium, which is known to help regulate insulin and control diabetes.
- Improve immune system
Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient which helps keep immune system in shape.
- Maintain healthy eyesight
Research has suggested that the beta-carotene in broccoli can protect the eyes against macular degeneration and prevent cataract.
- Protect against UV radiation
Researchers also have found that a compound called sulforaphane in broccoli may reduces the skin damage and inflammation caused by exposure to UV radiation.
- Strengthen bones
Being rich in calcium, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus, broccoli can help in maintaining bone health and keeping the bone remain strong. Hence, eating broccoli is very beneficial for the elderly and postmenopausal women, because they are more prone to develop osteoporosis.
- Prevent anemia
Anemia is directly related to lack of iron. Iron and folic acid found in broccoli can help prevent iron-deficiency anemia.
- Maintain a healthy pregnancy
Broccoli is a good source of folate which helps prevent neurological defects such as spina bifida in the fetus. All women need a regular source of folate during pregnancy.
- Reduce Alzheimer’s disease risk
A study shown that a diet high in folate may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and broccoli is one of the foods that contain this substance.
- Lower cholesterol and high blood pressure
Broccoli is rich in cholesterol-reducing fiber, chromium, and potassium, which can help lower cholesterol levels and control high blood pressure.
- Reduce heart disease risk
The carotenoid lutein found in broccoli may prevent the thickening of the arteries in the heart and thus reduce your risk of heart disease, particularly heart attack.
- Weight loss diet
Broccoli is extremely low in calorie content. Approximately 146 gram of broccoli contain less than 50 calories and therefore it is a good diet for people who’re looking for weight loss.