Broccoli is a part of Brassicaceae family of vegetables, which includes cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. This powerful vegetable is packed with essential nutrients. Broccoli is one of the best sources of various vital vitamins such as A, B6, B12, C, and K. It also contains very high amounts of folate and folic acid. Moreover, broccoli is a rich source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, chromium, zinc, and iron. Besides these vitamins and minerals, this vegetable contains quite a few important antioxidants and phytochemicals such as beta carotene, indoles, quercetin, glutathione, and isothiocyanates. The compound sulforaphane that is present in the vegetable is known for its anti-microbial, anti-diabetic, and anti-cancer properties. Being a rich source of fiber, broccoli can meet your daily dietary requirements of both soluble as well as insoluble fiber. It also contains very little amount of cholesterol and saturated fats.
Health Benefits of Including Broccoli in Your Daily Diet
High quantity of vitamin C in broccoli makes it a perfect source of antioxidants that are extremely important for neutralizing the dangerous effects of free radicals. Vitamin C also enhances the functioning of the immune system and promotes iron absorption. Calcium and potassium that it contains can be very beneficial for dealing with problems like osteoporosis and high blood pressure respectively. Calcium will also improve the health of your teeth and bones, whereas potassium is essential for water balance, good kidney and heart health, electrolyte functions, and metabolism. High amount of chromium contained in it can help diabetics to maintain a healthy level of insulin and blood sugar. Broccoli provides rich amount of fiber, which is crucial for maintaining good digestive health. Getting enough dietary fiber can prevent digestive problems like constipation.
Broccoli may also help to fight and slow down the cancer cell development. The sulforaphane and indoles content of this vegetable make it capable of fighting cancer. Sulforaphane increases the level as well as effectiveness of the enzymes that are known to fight cancer causing agents. Indoles, on the other hand, lower the risk of prostate cancer, breast cancer, and other hormone related cancers by deactivating estrogen metabolites.
Some other health benefits of broccoli include anti-aging, weight reduction, cholesterol reduction, and prevention of diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and caners of the colon, stomach, and lung. It can also be helpful against heart disease and arthritis. The carotenoids that it contains are vital for maintaining proper vision and they also reduce the risk of eye problems like cataract. By having broccoli, pregnant women can significantly reduce the risk of birth defects in their children. Deficiency of folic acid at the time of pregnancy is one of the main reasons for birth defects. As this vegetable contains enough folic acid, it lowers the risk of birth defects.
As you can see, increasing your intake of broccoli is a powerful way of preventing as well as controlling several health problems like high blood pressure, cataract, common cold, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and tumors. To ensure that you get all the nutrients from this vegetable, you should not overcook it. This is because the heat can cause a reduction in the vitamin and mineral content of broccoli. Hence, it is recommended to avoid frying this vegetable in excess fats or oils and instead steam or bake it. Eating broccoli in its raw form is the best way of obtaining all its benefits.