Remember your parents always urging you to ‘eat your greens’ at dinner time. It was always a bit of a hassle for mom or dad. Green food doesn’t always taste so good.
Here we will discuss some of the most amazing health benefits of broccoli – our favorite green vegetable – and how to prepare it for the most optimized nutritional benefit.
First and foremost we should discuss all the antioxidant properties found in broccoli.
Antioxidants are substances that inhibit oxidation, especially one used to counteract the deterioration of stored food products… the definition further explains that a substance such as vitamin C or E that removes potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organism.
It is stated that among all the cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower and brussel sprouts) broccoli stands out as the most concentrated source of vitamin C – and the flavonoids necessary for vitamin C to recycle in the body correctly. Also concentrated in broccoli are the carotenoids listed below –
1. Carotenoids – Are any class of mainly yellow, orange or red fat soluble pigments, including carotene, which give color to plant parts. Carotene is an important factor in the diet as a precursor for Vitamin A
- Lutein – This is a compound necessary for our healthy vision. One doctor, Julian Whitaker states that lutein is “highly concentrated in the macula of the eye, with smaller amounts found in the retina, lens and optic nerve.” She further states that “together with other high-potency antioxidants, lutein helps block out visible blue light, one of the major causes of light induced damage to the eyes.” Take note that this powerful carotenoid also helps ward off vision loss and more specifically helps to prevent macular degeneration. Dr Whitaker mentions one study where researchers gave 30 mg (milligrams) of lutein to two patients for 140 days finding that their macular density increased by twenty one and thirty nine percent!
- Zeaxanthin – works together with lutein to protect eye health.
- Beta-Carotene – according to WebMD Beta Carotene is used to decrease asthma symptoms caused by exercise, to prevent certain cancers, heart disease, cataracts and age related macular degeneration. Furthermore it has been used to treat AIDS, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, epilepsy, headache, heartburn, high blood pressure, infertility, Parkinson’s disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Schizophrenia, and skin disorders including psoriasis.
As broccoli has a higher than average content of Beta-Carotene, it is classified as one of the world’s healthiest foods. Broccoli has an unusually strong combination of both vitamin A (in the form of Beta Carotene) and vitamin K.
To break this down further –
2. AIDS – It is recommended to keep broccoli in the diet as a combat to HIV or AIDS symptoms.
3. Alcoholism – The vitamin A that is carried in Beta Carotene has been used to supplement alcoholic patients.
4. Alzheimer’s Disease – Broccoli is said to help against the deterioration of the cells in our brain and keep it sharp according to a study done at the Dundee University, because of a special chemical present called Sulforaphane. It is said to help the antioxidant mechanisms in our body in order to prevent our brain cells from being attacked by free radicals.
5. Depression – Antioxidants and Vitamin C found in broccoli are said to help fight depression.
8. Heartburn – while broccoli itself has been linked to the cause of heartburn, the beta-carotene and other antioxidants and vitamins found in broccoli have also been found to alleviate symptoms.
9. High Blood Pressure – According to Dr. Mercola at mercola.com – “mounting scientific studies have demonstrated that broccoli is one of nature’s most valuable health promoting foods.” This in relation to all the vital nutrients and antioxidants which aid in the prevention of high blood pressure.
10. Infertility – According to a study published in Fertility and Sterility, vitamin C enriched foods are highly essential for those who are planning to conceive.
11. Parkinson’s Disease – It’s important for those with Parkinson’s disease to consume ample amounts of fiber. Broccoli is said to have almost 4 grams of dietary fiber per serving!
12. Rheumatoid Arthritis – Two years ago, reports were surfacing stating that consuming foods high in sulforaphanes (such as broccoli) could help osteoarthritis patients. It is stated that this study was led by the University of East Anglia (UEA). The study used cell and tissue tests to show that sulforaphane blocked cartilage destroying enzymes by intercepting a molecule that causes inflammation. This was the first major study to show sulforaphane may influence joint health.
13. Schizophrenia – In another study, 10 outpatients with schizophrenia were recruited and given Sulforaphane (also known as SFN). The result of the study suggested that SFN has the potential to improve cognitive function in patients with schizophrenia.
14. Skin Disorders Including Psoriasis – Find a report here (http://www.healwithfood.org/psoriasis/foods.php) related to other foods that may help with psoriasis and other skin disorders… This report states that (while we already know that broccoli is packed with beta-carotene, vitamin C and folate) these essential vitamins and compounds have been found to relieve symptoms of this annoying skin disorder.
And there we have it, all wrapped up in the anti-oxidants and vitamins… so many health benefits of broccoli…but these were all relative of the Beta-Carotene alone…
Read further for a few more health benefits to consuming healthy amounts of broccoli:
15. An interesting area of research involves the metabolism of Vitamin D. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, ‘broccoli is not a source of this vitamin,’ however, ‘it is an excellent source of Vitamins K and A.’ Throughout the studies it has been regarded that perhaps broccoli may play a particular role in balancing the set of events that is required for Vitamins K and A to be digested through our system properly, which in turn may help those with Vitamin D deficiencies.
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16. Broccoli is good for your bone health because it contains high levels of both calcium and Vitamin K.
We never mentioned Kaempferol – a type of flavonoid (remember that flavonoids help your system metabolize). Research has shown, according to the India Times, the ability of kaempferol to lessen the impact of allergy related substances on our body.
Additionally, broccoli has significant amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are well known to carry anti-inflammatory compounds.
With all these benefits of broccoli, it is important to consider incorporating broccoli into your daily diet. Keep reading for advice on how to cook this leafy green for optimal effects:
World’s Healthiest Foods claims the healthiest way of cooking broccoli to make sure you are supporting your nourishment is to cook it at a low temperature. Preferably in a range that includes a steaming temperature – approximately 212 degrees Fahrenheit, with a cooking time of five minutes at the most!
The site further states that both cooked and raw broccoli can make ‘excellent additions to your meal plan’, mentioning that raw broccoli sprouts appear to provide special stomach support with respect to unwanted overgrowths of bacterium and otherwise.
Don’t Like Broccoli?
Try chopped florets and stalks in a cheesy omelet.
Dip the florets in ranch dressing for a tasty mid-day snack – or anytime!
Steam it, then cook into a casserole –
Be mindful that while broccoli is good for you either way, it is better when less cooked. Try to find recipes that allow you to barely steam the vegetable before consumption.
Call your parents, remind them to eat their leafy greens too – remember the effects on Alzheimer’s disease and otherwise. You should be recommending broccoli to all your friends and family at this point!