Broccoli: The Power Greens You Should Be Eating
When it comes to eating healthy, a lot of people understand the importance of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. But, many of us skip a certain type of vegetable that should be at the centre of our diets – broccoli. With a long list of powerful benefits, broccoli deserves its place at the top of your shopping list.
What is Broccoli?
Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous family, a group of vegetables that also includes cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. These vegetables are known for their intense, slightly bitter flavour and for their amazing health benefits. The plant is made up of a thick stem with green or purple florets, leaves, and a crown fibrous top. The buds, stems, and leaves all contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them incredibly healthy to eat.
Nutritional Value of Broccoli
Most cruciferous vegetables are incredibly healthy, but broccoli stands out from the rest with its incredibly nutritious content. As a good source of dietary fibre, broccoli is perfect for digestion. It also contains a lot of vitamin C – almost 1/3 of your daily recommended intake – which helps the body form collagen, improves immunity and helps to absorb iron. Vitamin K is also abundant in broccoli – it helps protect against osteoporosis and helps your body absorb calcium. Broccoli is rich in folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.
Broccoli is also an excellent source of antioxidants. These substances help to protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals, which can contribute to the development of chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Most recently, broccoli has been gaining some attention for its content of sulforaphane, a protective chemical that can help reduce inflammation.
Health Benefits of Eating Broccoli
The combination of key vitamins, minerals and antioxidants make broccoli an incredibly healthy vegetable to incorporate into your diet. Eating broccoli can help to reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. In addition, broccoli helps to improve vision, provide protection from UV rays, support skin health, prevent age-related decline, improve digestion and enhance the immune system.
Eating broccoli regularly is associated with better overall health, but it is important to remember that certain groups of people may get additional benefits. For example, postmenopausal women with high cholesterol who eat broccoli for three months saw an average reduction of 27% in cholesterol.
How To Eat Broccoli
There is no wrong way to cook broccoli, but some methods provide more nutritional benefits than others. Steaming is one of the best ways to preserve the vitamins and minerals in the vegetable since there is no direct contact between the food item and the water. Microwaving can also help preserve the nutritional value of broccoli, however, it is best to microwave the vegetable for no more than two minutes.
Raw broccoli can also be a great way to enjoy the vegetable without losing too many of the benefits. Chopping or shredding the vegetable and then adding it to salads, sandwiches, wraps and even smoothies can be a great way to increase your intake of essential vitamins and minerals.
When it comes to healthy eating, broccoli should be at the top of your list. Eating broccoli regularly provides essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals, all of which are essential for good health. Broccoli is easy to prepare and can be incorporated into many recipes, so it is a great addition to anyone’s diet. So, when you’re stocking your kitchen cupboards, make sure to add a few heads of broccoli to your list – with all of the health benefits it provides, you’ll definitely be glad you did.