[veggie photo]

Broccoli

Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family and a close relative of cauliflower and cabbage. Fresh broccoli is delicious raw or cooked. It is one of the most nutritious and most studied of vegetables.

Key Ingredients of Broccoli

Per Serving: 1/2 cup raw broccoli spears, 93g
Per Serving: 1 cup, fresh broccoli spears, 91g

What Makes Broccoli Healthy?

Broccoli, like all fruits and vegetables is low in calories, high in complex carbohydrates, contains no cholesterol and almost no fat. Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate. It is a source of potassium, fibre, magnesium and manganese.

Scientists at the World Cancer Research Fund reviewed 206 human studies and found convincing evidence that diets high in cruciferous vegetables lower risks of many forms of cancer.

Ounce for ounce broccoli has more vitamin C than an orange and as much calcium as a glass of milk. Broccoli contains one of the highest amounts of calcium among vegetables, making it a superfood for your bones.

Broccoli also contains carotenoids which are important antioxidants.

Antioxidants

Broccoli is rich in antioxidant nutrients, which play an important role in health maintenance. They neutralize harmful chemicals called "free-radicals" that cause cell damage in the body. Antioxidants have been strongly linked to protection from numerous diseases, heart disease, cancer, eye disease and regulation of the immune system.

Beta-Carotene, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin

In addition, broccoli is loaded with beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that are a large class of natural plant pigments responsible for the deep green colour of broccoli. They exhibit strong antioxidant properties and may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and some types of cancer.

About 40% of the carotenoids we eat are converted to vitamin A; the rest function as antioxidants. Beta carotene is especially effective in this regard.

Phytochemicals

Phytochemicals (antioxidants) are a group of natural plant chemicals believed to be protective, disease-preventing ingredients found in all fruits and vegetables. Broccoli is packed with numerous phytochemicals such as Quercetin. Quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce the risks of heart disease and some cancers.

Phytochemicals are involved in many processes including decreasing cholesterol levels and preventing cell damage.

They are associated with the prevention and treatment of at least four leading causes of death - cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.

Glucosinolate - sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol are phytochemicals in broccoli, and may help to explain the widely recognized scientific evidence indicating that populations consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, have a reduced risk of developing several types of cancers.

Vitamin C

Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C, necessary to make and maintain collagen, the connective tissue that holds the body and organs in place. Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds, keeps gums healthy, resists infection, and aids in the absorption of iron. It is associated with lowering the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

Vitamin A

Broccoli is also an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin A, one of the fat-soluble vitamins. Excess amounts are stored in the liver and fatty tissue. It plays a significant role in fending off infections and illness. The body needs vitamin A for growth and repair. Vitamin A is also an antioxidant that protects cells from oxidation damage. Vitamin A is essential for normal vision and is necessary for normal cell growth and division, the development of bones and teeth, and for the health of skin, mucous membranes and the tissue that lines the intestines, airways and other organs.

Dietary Fibre

Dietary Fibre consists of remnants of edible plant cells that resist digestion and absorption in the stomach and small intestines of humans. Recent research has shown that dietary fibre is important for keeping the bowel working normally and helps protect bowel cells from cancer-causing damage. Broccoli is a source of fibre.

Calcium

is the most abundant mineral in the human body. Broccoli contains the highest amount of calcium among the vegetable group. More than 99% of total body calcium is stored in the teeth and bones, the remaining 1% is found throughout the blood, muscle and the fluid between cells. In addition to promoting strong bones and teeth, calcium plays an important role in the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels, nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction and the secretion of hormones such as insulin. Calcium works together with four other nutrients (vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium and fluoride) to build and maintain bones and teeth.

Vitamin K

Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin K , which ends up in the liver and forms the ingredients for blood clotting. Blood coagulation is not the only important function of Vitamin K, it is also necessary for the formation of new bone material and healthy bone structure.

Folate

Broccoli is an excellent source of folate, a water-soluble B group vitamin. that the body must replenish daily. Folate plays a crucial role in every body function that requires cell division. This helps explain the importance in fetal development. Prior and during pregnancy, folic acid helps prevent neurological defects, such as spina bifida, in the fetus. All women of childbearing age need to have a regular source of folate.

The many tasks of folic acid include making blood cells, building muscles, healing wound and producing chemicals that keep the brain and nervous system functioning properly. Folate is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system. High folate content is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Potassium

Broccoli is a source of potassium. Potassium is an essential mineral that helps to regulate the body's balance of fluid. It is essential for many metabolic processes and is instrumental in the transmission of nerve impulses, proper muscle function, and maintaining normal blood pressure.

Cooking Broccoli!

Cooked broccoli should be bright green and tender-crisp. Overcooked broccoli turns dark green and suffers nutrient loss. Broccoli contains isothiocynates that break down into smelly sulfur compounds during cooking. The reaction is even stronger in aluminum pans. The longer the broccoli is cooked the more smelly compounds become. Cook just until tender and use stainless steel pots and pans.