Broccoli has a number of health benefits including reducing risk of cancer, increasing bone health, helping the skin to look more youthful, improved digestion, and detoxification. It has an extremely high content of vitamin K which increases calcium absorption and benefits bone health in individuals of all ages, and in particular children and elderly people who are more prone to bone fractures.In order to obtain the health benefits of broccoli, it is recommended to include it as part of your regular diet, with a minimum of 2-3 servings per week and each serving size should be about 1-1.5 cups.
1. Reducing the risk of cancer
Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family. This includes other vegetables such as kale, cauliflower, cabbage and turnips. Eating cruciferous vegetables has been associated with lower risk of cancer, more specifically lung and colon cancer. Studies suggest that sulforaphane, the sulfur-containing compound that gives cruciferous vegetables their bitter taste, is what gives these vegetables their cancer-fighting benefits.
According to the National Cancer Institute, " women who ate more than 5 servings of cruciferous vegetables per week had a lower risk of lung cancer". Studies also relate the reduced risk of prostate, colorectal, and lung cancer to increased consumption of cruciferous vegetables. This is a key benefit of broccoli, although it has also been suggested that some people metabolize the beneficial enzymes in broccoli differently from others depending on their genetic background.
2. Bone health
Reduced intake of vitamin K is linked to a higher risk of bone fracture. One cup of broccoli provides 92 micrograms of this vitamin, well over 100% of your recommended daily intake. Broccoli increases bone health by improving calcium absorption and reducing the elimination of calcium through urine. It also provides 43 milligrams of calcium in one cup. Although broccoli is famous for being hated by most children, together with the elderly population they would highly benefit from the bone-strengthening quality of this vegetable.
If the body does not get enough calcium, it begins to "steal" calcium from bones. This means a ensuring a high intake of calcium is a crucial step in preventing osteoporosis.
3. Youthful skin
The antioxidant Vitamin C is most often associated with citrus fruits, however, broccoli contains 81 milligrams of this vitamin in one cup. Vitamin C helps reduce skin damage caused by sun and pollution, as well as improving overall skin texture. Vitamin A and E are also essential in order to maintain healthy looking skin, protecting the skin cell membranes and also offering protection against UV radiation. Both of these can be found in broccoli as well.
4. Improving digestion and natural detoxification
Broccoli contains a high amount of fibre, which is a huge factor in preventing constipation and maintaining a healthy intestinal tract and lowers the risk of colon cancer. This also helps the body to get rid of toxins and unnecessary substances present in our daily diets.
The magnesium and vitamins present in this vegetable also cure acidity and help soothe any inflammation of the intestinal tract. The feeling of a healthy stomach and digestive tract is essential for the general wellbeing of any person, so this is a food that needs to be incorporated in one's diet if they are feeling bloated, constipated, or just generally suffer the consequences of an irritated bowel.
5. Weight control
Broccoli is extremely low in calories with about 31 calories per serving. It is also low in sodium and fat-free. It is an ideal food to consume if trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy diet for weight control. The high fibre content also prevents bloating and helps to maintain a healthy intestinal tract. Fibre also makes you feel full sooner when eating a meal, meaning you will eat less quantity and reduce you calorie intake per meal.
Another benefit of fibre is that it delays the secretion of ghrelin, a hormone that causes the feeling of hunger. It also prevents peaks in blood sugar by slowing down the absorption of glucose and prevents excess sugar from being stored as fat. This helps reduce snacking in between meals and reduces intake of calories.
6. Blood pressure and kidney function
According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, " Another compound in broccoli, glucoraphanin, may also reduce risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and stroke". In order to benefit from these qualities, it is recommended to eat about one serving of broccoli a day. If this seems like a lot, it is possible to include this vegetable in your diet not only cooked or steamed, but also raw with dips such as hummus or by juicing it and mixing it with different fruits and vegetables in juices.
7. Eye care and cataracts
Zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin A, phosphorus and other vitamins such as B complex, C and E found in broccoli are very good for eye health. These prevent the formation of cataracts while repairing the damage from exposure to the sun's radiation. One cup of broccoli contains 2015 micrograms of Lutein and Zeaxanthin, both of which protect the retina against oxidative damage.
8. Reducing allergy reaction and inflammation
Broccoli is a particularly rich source of kaempferol and isothiocyanates. These are anti-inflammatory nutrients that can also lessen the impact of allergic reaction in our body. There are also significant amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
According to the Boston University School of Medicine, high amounts of vitamin K contained in broccoli may slow the progression of Osteoarthritis. Those who suffer from this disease can benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties of this product, which can reduce the pain caused by inflammation of the joints.
Eat more broccoli!
After having researched the benefits of broccoli, I was surprised to find just how many beneficial nutrients can be found in this vegetable, that some consider a super food for it's many health benefits. The main properties that can benefit one's health are definitely the high vitamin K and calcium content, essential for bone strength, and the high fibre content which helps maintain a healthy digestive system, helps prevent colorectal cancer and also aids in weight control and weight loss by maintaining stable blood-sugar levels and prolonging the sensation of satiety after a meal. These properties should encourage the consumption of broccoli as a regular part of a diet, ideally with 2-3 servings per week.
Here are a few salad recipes for you to start incorporating more of this superfood into your diet: