If there is one food often cited as “least favorite vegetable” broccoli tends to top the list. Which is really unfortunate as this cruciferous veggie contains some of the most powerful antioxidants and disease-fighting compounds found in any one food. Anyone who wants to boost their health would be wise to be eating broccoli. Broccoli brings it all to the table as a palate pleaser and is a highly nutrient dense source of powerful health protecting properties.
Widely recognized as a cancer fighter, broccoli’s health perks stem throughout the body. Here are 10 key broccoli benefits that should earn it a place at the top of your grocery list:
1. Broccoli fights cancer
If there is a true ‘superfood’ in the fight against cancer, broccoli is it. Study after study has demonstrated broccoli’s true role in preventing and beating back cancer into submission – breast, prostate, colon, and ovarian cancers in particular have shown reduction when individuals consume more broccoli. The reason seems to stem from two phytochemicals found abundantly in broccoli – indoles and isothiocyanates, both which have important roles in cancer prevention. Studies have found that the indole-3-carbinol may help prevent hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer.
Pair broccoli with spicy food (horseradish, mustard, and wasabi) containing the enzyme myrosinase and broccoli’s anticancer properties are boosted even more. In addition, broccoli’s rich source of beta-carotene is transformed into vitamin A in the body which also may help prevent cancer.
2. Broccoli boosts bone health
Two nutrients found in broccoli, calcium and vitamin K, are both important for bone health and preventing osteoporosis.
3. Broccoli aids digestion
One cup of cooked broccoli contains 5.2 grams of fiber helping to move things along with digestion preventing constipation. Fiber acts like a broom sweeping out the digestive tract of unnecessary components the body doesn’t need.
4. Broccoli boosts eye and skin health
A compound called lutein, necessary for eye health, is found in broccoli. Studies have shown lutein helps prevent age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. In addition, vitamin A found in broccoli is vital for good vision and overall eye health. Another compound found in broccoli is glucoraphanin, which helps repair damage from aging and from too much sun exposure.
5. Broccoli reduces osteoarthritis
Broccoli contains a generous amount of a compound called sulforaphane which has been shown to aid in the prevention of osteoarthritis in mice. Sulforaphane has anti-inflammatory behaviors and is shown to be responsible for slowing down the decomposition of joint cartilage.
6. Broccoli fights cardiovascular disease
Broccoli has an abundance of the B vitamins of vitamin B6 and folate, both which may offer some protection against heart disease and stroke. Plus, broccoli is high in fiber, contains no fat or cholesterol, and is low in calories – a perfect food for a heart-healthy diet.
7. Broccoli stabilizes blood pressure
Broccoli is rich in potassium (one cup contains 457 milligrams) and low in sodium (one cup contains 64 milligrams), just the right combination of high potassium, low sodium composition important for stabilizing blood pressure.
8. Broccoli decreases depression
To give your brain a mood-enhancing boost, eat more of the B vitamin folate. One cup of broccoli contains 168 micrograms of this nutrient. Brain cells rely on folate to help ‘turn them on’ – insufficient folate may increase risk for depression, fatigue, poor memory, and other serious mental disorders. It’s best to battle the blues by boosting intake of foods such as broccoli to beat back depression.
9. Broccoli boosts immune function
Vitamin C, the all-important infection fighter and immune booster, is found abundantly in broccoli. One cup of broccoli contains 101 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 112% more than the recommended dietary allowance. Broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients and phytochemicals, including sulforaphane, which helps clear toxin from the body and strengthens resistance to colds.
10. “Super broccoli” may prevent heart disease
A new “super broccoli” named Beneforte broccoli was developed at the John Innes Centre and by researchers at the Institute for Food Research. This “super broccoli” is considered even more powerful containing two to three times the normal amount of glucoraphanin, a nutrient believed to help prevent heart disease. The amount of glucoraphanin can vary among regular broccoli – Beneforte broccoli has the advantage as it has a very stable, rich and reliable level of glucoraphanin available for boosting health.
This new broccoli is not genetically modified but rather is a cross between a British variety and a Sicilian one.