Broccoli is a tasty cruciferous vegetable that is growing in demand. According to USDA’s Economic Research Service, over the last 30 years, per person consumption of fresh broccoli has increased from 1.4 pounds in 1980 to 5.6 pounds in 2010.
The rise in consumption could be due to its flexible nature as broccoli works well in salads, stir fries, curries and soups.
Plus, it is marketed as either a fresh or processed product and is available year-round in the market. The flowers and stalks are edible, whereas the bitter-tasting leaves are discarded.
Cruciferous vegetables offer a wide range of health benefits, and broccoli is no exception. It contains a substantial amount of nutrients including vitamins A and C, folic acid, fiber, calcium, potassium and magnesium that are extremely good for your health.
It is also rich in sulfur and several powerful antioxidants. Plus, this vegetable is very low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of broccoli.
1. Prevents Cancer
Several studies have proven that broccoli helps prevent cancer. According to researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, the ‘sulforaphane’ compound found in broccoli helps prevent cancer through the complex mechanism of epigenetics.
Another study done at Johns Hopkins University shows that broccoli can prevent the development of tumors by 60 percent and help reduce the size of tumors by 75 percent.
Broccoli may particularly hinder the growth of breast, uterus, cervical, prostate and skin cancer.
Everyone should eat at least one and one-half cups of broccoli two or three times per week. Men should eat four servings per week to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. One serving of broccoli equals two florets.
2. Regulates Blood Pressure
Researchers at the OHSU School of Medicine found that broccoli helps regulate blood pressure. Sulforaphane, an organic sulfur compound in broccoli, plays a key role in improved DNA methylation, which is crucial for normal cellular function and proper gene expression. This is turn helps regulate blood pressure level.
Plus, the magnesium, calcium and potassium in broccoli also help regulate blood pressure.
Broccoli along with other cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish and arugula must be included in your diet to normalize your blood pressure levels.
3. Maintains Heart Health
Researchers at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London have proven that certain chemicals in broccoli boost a natural defense mechanism that protects arteries from clogging and causing heart attacks.
Containing loads of potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants, broccoli improves the blood-pumping ability of arteries, reduces heart damage due to oxygen deprivation and provides higher levels of heart-healthy chemicals during oxygen deprivation.
Some evidence also proves that eating broccoli on a regular basis can reverse the damage caused by diabetes to heart blood vessels.
Include this heart-healthy vegetable in your diet to reduce your risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, attacks and strokes.
4. Supports Detoxification
Broccoli also helps your body in the detoxification process due to the presence of phytonutrients like glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin and glucobrassicin.
These phytonutrients have a strong impact on the overall detoxification process, including activation, neutralization and elimination of unwanted contaminants. Plus, isothiocyanates in broccoli help control the detox process at a genetic level.
Eliminating toxins and waste products from the body is good for your overall health. It will help boost your energy level, increase immunity, improve metabolism, stimulate circulation and improve digestion.
5. Boosts Brain Power
Broccoli is a great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower. It also has several B vitamins that play a key role in improving mental stamina and memory. Broccoli can also relieve the effects of mental exhaustion and depression.
The high amount of choline in broccoli is important in the growth of new brain cells as well as neural connections, which are essential for cognitive function and good memory. Choline can even prevent neural tube defects in newborns.
Eating one cup of broccoli three times a week can reduce your chance of suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s in old age.
6. Aids Weight Loss
By including broccoli in your diet, you can lose weight more quickly. It is a low-fat and low-calorie vegetable that helps fill you up quickly. Plus, its high fiber and water content add volume to your meal without adding empty calories.
Also, it contains protein along with minerals like potassium, magnesium and manganese that are necessary for a healthy immune system and healthy body.
A single cup of steamed broccoli is considered a healthy snack in any weight-loss diet plan.
7. Stops Premature Aging
Broccoli can help maintain your youth as it can significantly slow down the aging process. The antioxidant vitamin C in broccoli fights free radicals and prevents premature aging signs like fine lines, wrinkles and skin spots.
Additionally, it contains beta-carotene and vitamins E and B-complex that impart natural glow and keep your skin young.
Also, broccoli works as a natural sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
Eat fresh broccoli to give your complexion a beautiful natural glow and delay the signs of aging.
8. Supports Eye Health
The unique combination of nutrients in broccoli makes it extremely beneficial for your eyes. The two carotenoids, namely lutein and zeaxanthin, found in significant concentrations in broccoli are important for healthy eyes.
Plus, broccoli is a good source of vitamin A that plays a key role in forming retinal, the light-absorbing molecule required for both low-light and color vision.
Eating broccoli regularly will improve your vision and reduce your risk of eye problems like macular degeneration and cataracts.
9. Promotes Healthy Bones
Every serving of broccoli improves your bone health. Being rich in calcium and vitamin K, broccoli promotes bone health and helps prevent osteoporosis.
Also, a diet rich in vitamin K has been linked to a lower risk of fractures. Plus, broccoli is high in fiber and low in calories and can help you manage your weight, which is important for bone health.
So, eat broccoli regularly to prevent calcium deficiency and its effects.
10. Promotes Hair Health
If you wish to have healthy and strong hair, include more broccoli in your diet. Broccoli has hair-nourishing vitamins like C, A and B6 that can make your hair strong and smooth.
These vitamins stimulate the production of sebum, an oily substance secreted by hair follicles. Sebum acts as a natural moisturizer and conditioner for your scalp and hair, which in turn will prevent dry and frizzy hair.
Plus, the calcium in broccoli strengthens the hair follicles and can reduce hair loss and thinning.
For good hair growth and health, eat raw broccoli heads three or four times a week.
Tips to maximize broccoli’s benefits
To take advantage of all the amazing health benefits of broccoli, be sure to prepare it in a way that retains the most nutritional value.
- Avoid overcooking broccoli as it will destroy its nutritional value.
- Avoid microwaving broccoli as the process can remove valuable nutrients from it.
- Lightly steam the broccoli for just a couple of minutes. This is the best way to eat broccoli.
- You can add broccoli to soups and stews.
- You can also eat raw broccoli with dip or light dressing.