Broccoli: Don’t overlook this nutrition powerhouse

By: Bel Marra Health | Food Facts | Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 05:05 AM

health-and-nutritional-benefits-of-broccoliThose little mini trees on your plate probably didn’t hold much appeal for you as a kid – unless they were covered with melted cheese – even then, broccoli can be an acquired taste. But broccoli nutritional facts and the amazing health benefits of broccoli have to speak to you as an adult looking to get the most from your diet.

With food and exercise the fundamental building blocks for well-being, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli take center stage. Beyond its vibrant green color (and crunch if you like it raw), broccoli is one of the vegetables that combats a number of lifestyle-related health conditions. These are common ones that plague Americans: Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, overall mortality. If these can be offset by better eating and getting more fresh vegetables like broccoli on your plate at every meal, why not start today?

Increasing your consumption of plant foods like broccoli does your body good. They’re big on nutrients and low on calories. And broccoli ranks among the top 20 foods in regards to its Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) score, which measures vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient content in relation to calories. Roast, boil, saute or chop and eat it raw.

Broccoli has its own health-boosting qualities to promote strong bones, youthful skin and disease protection. We’re going to tell you why.

Broccoli’s superfood facts

brocoli-nutritional-chartBroccoli nutritional facts may have Popeye swapping out his spinach (if he only knew). Because just one cup of broccoli a day will give you more than 100 percent of your daily vitamin C and K, and is also a good source of vitamin A, folate and potassium.
The breakdown? One cup of chopped raw broccoli (one serving) contains 31 calories, 0 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrate (including 2 grams of sugar and 2 grams of fiber) and 3 grams of protein. Broccoli also contributes to your daily calcium, providing 43 milligrams in one cup. See the nutritional chart at right.

Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes health heroes like kale, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cauliflower, cabbage, rutabaga and turnips. All tasty and nutritious!

Health benefits of broccoli

health-benefits-of-broccoliEating broccoli should make you feel like a health superstar because you have so much to gain. What are the health benefits of broccoli? There’s good science behind them, too:
Strong bones: Vitamin K is crucial for your bones. Low intake of vitamin K has been linked to a high risk of bone fracture. What to do is easier than you think, because no one wants weak, brittle bones and serious fracture can affect your mobility or land you in hospital.

One cup of chopped broccoli gives you 92 micrograms of vitamin K, which is well over 100 percent of the daily recommended requirement. Getting your vitamin K daily boosts your bone health by improving calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia began an investigation in 2010 to determine if consuming broccoli affects the risk and severity of osteoarthritis, the most prevalent form of arthritis where joint cartilage and underlying bone deteriorate. They found that broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane, a naturally occurring sulfur compound. Although sulforaphane is found in a variety of foods, including cauliflower, cabbage and kale, the richest source is broccoli sprouts.

Disease protection: Broccoli also is packed with phytochemicals and antioxidants. The phytochemicals are chemicals in plants that give them their color, flavor and smell. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that phytochemicals in broccoli are good for the immune system. These phytochemicals include carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, and kaempferol, a flavonoid. A strong immune system can ward off invaders to stop you from getting sick.

Younger skin: Broccoli’s vitamin C helps to fight skin damage caused by the sun and pollution. Better absorbed from food sources than beauty products, it also helps reduce wrinkles and improve overall skin texture. That’s because vitamin C plays a role in the formation of collagen, the support system of the skin.

Don’t just consider oranges and grapefruits for vitamin C. Broccoli has 81 milligrams in one cup, exceeding your daily requirement. 

Heart health: Broccoli can help to keep blood vessels strong. The vegetable’s sulforaphane is also an anti-inflammatory that can limit damage to blood vessel linings caused by chronic blood sugar problems. Harvard University School of Public Health reports broccoli’s B-complex vitamins can help regulate or reduce excessive homocysteine. This is the amino acid that can build up after you eats red meat, increasing the risk of coronary artery disease.

Roasted Broccoli Recipe

roasted-broccoli-recipeWhile you’ve likely enjoyed broccoli chopped raw in salads, stir-fried or steamed with garlic, roasting the florets in the oven brings out terrific flavor. It’s easy to do and one of our favorite broccoli recipes. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, rinse and chop a head of broccoli into bite-sized pieces. You can use the stalks, too, just peel the skin. Place into a mixing bowl and toss with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and 2 cloves of minced garlic, sea salt and black pepper.

Put about 1/3 cup of fresh bread crumbs onto a baking sheet and place into the oven to lightly toast for 2 minutes. Remove and add to the broccoli mixture to toss. Put the broccoli mixture on the sheet and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove and serve. Add some fresh grated cheese if you like as well. Delicious!

Tasty, healthy and easy to prepare – what more can you ask of your vegetables? The health benefits of broccoli, and easy broccoli recipes like this one, should keep you coming back for more. Enjoy!


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