Broccoli is a superfood in every sense of the word and has been around for more than 2000 years. The name “broccoli” comes for the Latin word brachium, which means “branch”, or “arm”. The first commercially grown broccoli was grown and harvested in New York, then planted in the 1920’s in California. A few crates were sent back East and by 1925 the broccoli market was off the ground.
This vegetable is highly recognised for its anti-cancer nutrients. It is a cruciferous vegetable and member of the cabbage family which is helpful in preventing certain types of cancer.
Did you know?
A cup of cooked broccoli contains almost twice as much vitamin C as an orange and almost as much calcium as a cup of whole milk – all in just 44 calories! Broccoli also contains phytochemicals such as beta-carotene, sulforaphane, indoles, kaempferol and isothiocyanates. Phytochemicals prevent carcinogens (cancer causing substances) from forming. They also stop carcinogens from getting to target cells and help boost enzymes that detoxify carcinogens.
Here’s what medical literature have to say about the health benefits of broccoli:
- Consumption of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, is known to reduce the risk of a number of cancers, especially those of the lung, colon, breast, ovarian and bladder.
- A Johns Hopkins study found that broccoli consumption prevented the development of tumours by 60% and it reduced the size of tumours that did develop by 75%.
- Men who ate more than a serving of either broccoli or cauliflower each week almost halved their risk of developing advanced-stage prostate cancer
- Broccoli appear to have a unique ability to eliminate Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a bacteria responsible for ulcers. It has even been shown to eliminate H. pylori that are resistant to antibiotics.
- Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli provide significant cardiovascular benefit. Those whose diets most frequently included broccoli, tea, onions, and apples – the richest sources of flavonoids -gained a 20% reduction in their risk of heart disease.
- Those who ate broccoli more than twice a week had a 23% lower risk of cataracts compared to men who consumed this antioxidant-rich vegetable less than once a month.
- Women with high kaempferol intake (a nutrient found in broccoli), were found to have a 40% lower risk of ovarian cancer, compared to women with the lowest kaempferol intake.
So the next time you sit down to eat and broccoli is on the menu, remember it really is good for you!
For cancer protection, it is recommended we eat 3-5 servings of cruciferous veggies per week.
How to Select Fresh Broccoli
When purchasing broccoli, look for heads that have tight and compact bud clusters that are dark green, sometimes with a hint of purple. The stem portion should be lighter green. Avoid any that are yellowed or have open, dry-looking clusters. This denotes age or improper storage.
Store broccoli, unwashed, in an open plastic bag and place in the crisper drawer of refrigerator. It is best if used within a day or two after purchasing.
Preparation and Cooking
Broccoli’s nutrients are best released when they are lightly steamed. Toss them in a vegetable steamer/basket and put them on the stove or in the microwave. You can also enjoy them raw, in soups, stir-fries, casseroles and just about anything (except maybe ice cream!).
Find broccoli boring or not particularly tasty? Try these ways to liven up your broccoli experience:
- Add butter/margarine or olive oil (not much, though)
- Sprinkle chilli flakes on them
- Drizzle with lemon juice and sesame seeds