Gotta love a food that’s literally shaped like a tree. I know that you know that broccoli is healthy, but I bet you don’t know how truly nutrition-packed it is. Broccoli is a verdant vegetable (no thanks needed for teaching you a new word today!), and the Italian name for broccoli is broccolo, meaning the flowering top of a cabbage. The word comes from the Latin word brachium, which means branch or arm, a reflection of broccoli’s treelike shape.
Broccoli is high in fiber (which most of us are lacking in the highly-processed world we’re living in) and remember that the gas will pass…it’s just your body getting used to the fiber it’s been missing. It is also packed with phytochemicals and antioxidants. Don’t get thrown by the chemical part of Phytochemicals either. Phytochemicals are chemicals in plants that are responsible for their color, smell and flavour, and have many health benefits (as the American Institute for Cancer Research outlines). The specific phytochemicals in broccoli include glucobrassicin; carotenoids, such as zeaxanthin and beta-carotene; and kaempferol, a flavonoid (I know – ouch, my brain!). Broccoli also contains calcium, iron, and protein, and vitamins C & K, which respectively provide immune system support and balanced blood sugar.
Broccoli contains folate and vitamin A (which are particularly important during pregnancy). It contains lutein (which is important for eye health) and can help reduce cholesterol by binding the soluble fiber with cholesterol in the blood, making the cholesterol easier to excrete. Broccoli is good for reducing inflammation, as it’s packed with antioxidants. A 2014 study found that women who ate more cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli) had lower levels of inflammation. Broccoli sprouts in particular are good for detoxification of the body as well, as this 1997 study outlines.
But wait…there’s more!
Broccoli is good for your brain. A 2015 study stated that people who ate 1-2 servings per day had the cognitive ability of a person 11 years younger than those who consumed none. It is also good for your heart (the vitamin K supports healthy blood pressure and blood clotting, meaning it helps stop the bleeding when you cut yourself), with a 2020 study noting that broccoli helps to prevent and manage blood vessel disease.
One of the most remarkable benefits of eating broccoli is that it protects against cancer (a 2010 study states that secondary plant products, especially glucosinolates, have anti-cancer potential, and a 2015 study found that compounds found in broccoli showed significant decreases in uncontrolled cell growth as well as increases in programmed cell death).
I’d say broccoli is one of my top 5 favourite vegetables these days (along with mushrooms). I like to steam some broccoli, and then maybe melt some vegan butter on top with some Herbamare, and maybe even some Ume Plum Vinegar (this vinegar may sound odd if this is the first time you’re hearing about it, but it’s yummy!). I also like to roast a tray of random veggies, including broccoli, with a mix of spices (pepper, turmeric, and garlic powder are some great ones).
How would you rank broccoli in your current list of favourite vegetables?