Broccoli or Brassica oleracea is a branched green veggie belonging to the cruciferous family. It is related to other leafy green vegetables such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprout. If you want to include a healthy green vegetable in your diet that can stir up some very delectable dishes, broccoli should be your first choice.
Broccoli resembles a miniature tree when you physically examine it. It is eaten raw, cooked, steamed, and roasted. This leafy green veggie is loaded with tons of nutritional components such as fiber, vitamin C, iron, potassium, vitamin K, and protein. Compared to other vegetables, broccoli is said to have the highest amounts of protein. Studies acclaim that though there is nothing wrong with having cooked broccoli, a gentle steaming results in less loss of nutrition of this veggie.
This article is a complete and ultimate guide to everything you need to know about broccoli types and health benefits. It overviews the various types of broccoli followed by a herd of nutrients it brings for you in a meal. Let us begin.
Types of Broccoli
1. Calabrese Broccoli
This variety is what we commonly call the broccoli. It is named after Calabria, a place in Italy. This variety has a large head sitting upon a thick stalk. It is usually harvested in the cool season every year.
2. Sprouting Broccoli
This variety is distinguished by having numerous little heads with thin stalks.
3. Purple Cauliflower
Despite the name, this variety is categorized under broccoli. It is usually grown in Europe and North America. The head of this variety of broccoli appears like a cauliflower – which, in reality, are several tiny flower buds.
4. Romanesco Broccoli
This variety resembles the Calabrese broccoli, but the head of the Romanesco broccoli appears to have spikey flowers. It tastes bitter, and a tad bit crunchy. Chefs refer to it as having an earthy flavor.
Nutritional Profile of Broccoli
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a single cup of broccoli (equivalent to 76 grams) significantly contributes to fulfilling the daily adult requirements of various minerals and vitamins. Consuming a cup of broccoli provides you with about 24.3 calories and 4.78 grams of carbohydrates. Carbs in broccoli are primarily composed of fibers and sugars – including fructose, glucose, and sucrose. However, carb content is low in broccoli as compared to numerous other vegetables.
Broccoli is also laden with fiber, which makes it an extremely healthy food. You can get about 2.4 grams of fiber from one cup of broccoli that is about 10% of the Daily Recommended Value of fiber for an adult. Another component that makes broccoli very nutritious is protein. Protein is essential for the body as it contributes majorly in the growth and maintenance of the body. In addition to that, the water content in broccoli is very high (about 89%).
Other essential vitamins and minerals that broccoli is rich in include:
- Vitamin C – consuming half a cup of broccoli can fulfill 70% of your daily need for vitamin C
- Vitamin K1 –promotes blood clotting and contributes to a healthy bone structure
- Folate (vitamin B9) – largely essential for expecting mothers as it helps in healthy tissue growth and improving cell functioning
- Potassium – excellent for regulating blood pressure and a healthy heart
- Manganese – one of the healthiest trace elements in vegetables
- Iron – crucial for the transportation of oxygen in our body cells
Health Benefits of Broccoli
1. A Potent Antioxidant
This property of broccoli is considered an immensely beneficial one for your health. Acting as a potent antioxidant implies that consuming broccoli helps eliminate the free radicals in our body. Free radicals cause cell damage that leads to inflammation. Hence, an antioxidant is needed to neutralize the damage done by the free radicals – which you can get from broccoli. Glucoraphanin is a compound found in broccoli that turns into sulforaphane, a highly potent antioxidant, after being digested.
The beneficial health effects of this antioxidant have been studied in numerous scientific investigations. It has shown several health-protective benefits, including lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels.Another important health-protective benefit includes the prevention of oxidative stress and cellular damage in the eye due to antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin.
2. Reduces Inflammation
Broccoli is said to be loaded with a flavonoid called kaempferol. This compound is deemed essential in working as a strong anti-inflammatory agent in our bodies. It helps in reducing inflammation in the body tissues along with the help of other important nutrients. A study involving tobacco smokers – who have high prospects of developing inflammation – revealed that consuming broccoli proved to play an important role in bringing down inflammation levels.
3. Helps in Making Our Bones Strong
One of the essential nutrients in broccoli is vitamin K, which is highly needed for preventive and timely blood clotting. However, vitamin K also plays a role in giving strength to our bones and making them healthy. This vitamin has shown promising prospects in improving our bone density. Moreover, it has proved beneficial in preventing risks of fractures in people with osteoporosis.
The daily need for vitamin K of an adult is about one mcg for every kilogram of weight. Thus, an adult weighing about 75kg would require 75mcg of vitamin K, which can easily be achieved by consuming a cup of broccoli as it contains a little more than 100mcg of vitamin K. However, you need to be cautious of is the blood thinner, such as warfarin if you are taking any. Consumption of this vitamin interacts with blood-thinning medication, so a consultation with your doctor is mandatory in this case.
4. Improves Eye Health
As mentioned before, broccoli contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been scientifically linked with lower risks of age-related eye disorders, such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Also, broccoli is claimed to have beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A by our bodies. Vitamin A helps prevent night blindness in people.
5. Might Help Prevent Cancer
Although there are no superfoods declared as wholly preventing cancer, certain veggies and foods tend to lower cancer risks. A healthy diet is highly recommended for warding off any chances or risks of the development of cancer. Sulforaphane is a phytochemical present in broccoli that is also the reason behind its bitter taste.
Research studies have revealed that this phytochemical plays a role in increasing the detoxification of airborne toxins, such as cigarette smoke. This effect of sulforaphane is declared important in reducing the risk of cancer development.
6. Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
Owing to the antioxidant property of broccoli, it is claimed that consuming broccoli helps regulate blood sugar levels. A study involving people with type-2 diabetes showed how incorporating broccoli in the diet resulted in decreased insulin resistance. This amazing health benefit of broccoli is also linked with its fiber content. A good amount of fiber in our diet helps slow down digestion, which results in slower and gradual absorption of sugar in the blood; thus, preventing sudden spikes in the blood sugar levels.
What Broccoli Does To You – A Recap
Broccoli is a nutrient-dense leafy green vegetable. It acts as an over protector of your health by acting as an antioxidant and important anti-inflammatory agent. It also helps improve your blood sugar levels. If you have type-2 diabetes and are struggling with a healthy diet plan, broccoli is your go-to vegetable. It is rich in protein and low in carbs, making it perfect for people following a weight-loss diet plan.
The anti-inflammatory effect of this vegetable also helps in keeping our heart healthy and several chronic illnesses at bay. Broccoli also has amazing benefits for the health of our eyes and bone structure. So, what is keeping you away from incorporating broccoli in your diet?