Health Benefits of Broccoli

Health Benefits of Broccoli

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What is Broccoli?

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable belonging to the cabbage family, but they are altogether a different species from other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower or cabbage. Broccoli is originally grown in Italy. The edible part of the vegetable grows as a flowering head, supported by thick edible stems and surrounded by leaves.

There are two main types of broccoli consumed worldwide such as the Calabrese broccoli and the purple sprouting broccoli. Other regional variants of broccoli are also available in various parts of the world. The medical fraternity in recent times has been researching on the multiple health benefits of broccoli. Increasing number of literature are being published throwing light on the preventive as well as curative benefits of broccoli.

Nutrition Profile of Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the highly sought foods among the weight conscious population since it is low in calories. Since 90% of its weight is composed of water, a cup of raw broccoli provides just 31 calories.

In other words, it helps you feel full but at the same time without piling on extra calories. It is rich in protein compared to most other vegetables, but the content is insignificant due to the high water content. Another weight loss benefit of broccoli is that it contains less amount of digestible carbohydrates, but a good amount of fiber. A cup of broccoli provides 2.3 grams of dietary fiber to maintain gut health and satiety.

Broccoli is one of the rich sources of vitamin K and C. A serving of raw broccoli (90 grams) meets 90% of the daily requirement of vitamin C and 77% of the daily requirement of vitamin K. Broccoli is also rich in cancer fighting phytonutrients such as quercetin, carotenoids, sulforaphane which contribute to overall good health.

Nutrition Profile of Broccoli

Health Benefits of Broccoli

Anti-carcinogenic Properties

Broccoli contains essential cancer-fighting nutrients such as glucosinolates, which breakdown on cooking to form active cancer resistant chemicals such as indoles and isothiocyanates. They fight cancer through various mechanisms such as inducing cancer cell death, inactivating carcinogens as well as protecting against DNA damage of normal cells.

Immunity Booster

Broccoli is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C, both of which act as powerful antioxidants in enhancing the body’s immune responses to various infections and foreign pathogenic invaders. Zinc and selenium are in broccoli also improve the overall immune status of the body.

Improves Bone Health

Broccoli being one of the richest sources of vitamin K, help in improving bone structure and remodeling. Vitamin K stimulates the production of certain protein factors, which help in building strong bones. Hence, it can play a role in preventing osteoporosis in later stage in life.

Vitamin K in Broccoli Helps Build Strong Bones

Maintaining Heart Health and Blood Pressure

Broccoli is rich in fiber as well as potassium. Potassium is an anti-hypertensive mineral which acts antagonistic to sodium. Potassium, a vasodilator, helps dilate the blood vessels hence providing more space for blood to flow in constricted blood vessels and maintaining normal blood pressure. Soluble fiber in broccoli helps in binding with abnormal levels of lipids in blood and excreting them. These lipids are atherogenic in nature, meaning they have the ability to form plaques in the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart. This is detrimental for the smooth functioning of the heart.

Skin Health

The beta-carotene, vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, zinc and some amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in broccoli helps to enhance skin health, by regeneration of new skin tissues and imparting a radiant glow to the skin. Moreover, a phytonutrient in broccoli called glucoraphanin, reverses the skin damage caused by UV rays due to sun exposure.

Eye Care

Antioxidant carotenoids such as zeaxanthin and lutein found in broccoli help to maintain macular health by protecting it from damage caused by free radicals formed as a result of processing incoming light rays. Sulforaphane, a phytonutrient, protects the human retinal cells from damage, which line the retinal membrane and decreases the incidence of cataracts.

Prevents Birth Defects

Broccoli is rich in folate, which is an essential nutrient during pregnancy, to facilitate the development of the nervous system of the growing fetus. Folate prevents the occurrence of nervous disorders spinal cord defects in infants. The fibre and other nutrients are also essential in pregnancy to treat constipation, which is very common during pregnancy.

Folate Rich Broccoli Prevent Birth Defects

Effective Detoxifier

Broccoli is rich in sulphur compounds such as sulforaphane, which plays a major role in facilitating detoxification process in the body. Studies have shown that broccoli helps boost production of detoxification enzymes in the liver, which helps in the effective elimination of xenobiotic substances from the body. It’s known to eliminate toxic substances from the body such as caffeine heterocyclic compounds.

Healthy Recipes with Broccoli

Broccoli in Lemony Couscous (Serves: 2)

  • Whole grain Couscous – ˝ cup
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – 1tablespoon
  • Red or yellow onion – 1 medium (quartered and thinly sliced)
  • Broccoli florets - 2 cups (finely chopped)
  • Fresh parsley - 1/4 cup (minced)
  • Fresh dill - 1tablespoon (minced)or dried – ˝ teaspoon
  • Lemon juice – 1tablespoon
  • Sun-dried tomatoes - 1/4 cup (sliced) or pitted cured black olives - 1/4 cup (chopped)
  • Salt and pepper (freshly ground) to taste
  • Keep 1 cup boiling water ready in a container. Add the couscous and cover. Let it stand for 10 minutes and then use a fork to fluff them.
  • Add oil in a non-stick saucepan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until they turn golden in colour.
  • Next, add the broccoli florets with just enough water to keep the bottom of the pan moist. Cover the pan and allow it to cook in its own steam until they turn bright green and are tender-crisp, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Combine the cooked couscous to the mixture along with the herbs, squeeze lemon juice, and dried tomatoes or olives. Stir well together, and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper as per taste and serve hot.
Corn & Broccoli Stir Fry (Serves: 2)

Corn & Broccoli Stir Fry

  • Broccoli florets – 1 cup
  • Carrots - ˝ cup (chopped)
  • Corn kernels - ˝ cup (boiled)
  • Garlic cloves – 2 (chopped)
  • Oil – 2 teaspoons
  • Whole Cumin - ˝ teaspoon
  • Chili powder – ˝ teaspoon
  • Garam masala – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt as needed
  • Heat oil in a pan and add cumin and garlic.
  • Combine all the veggies and saute until cooked.
  • Add chilli powder as well as garam masala, salt and saute for 2 to 3 more minutes.
  • Serve with rice, flatbread or as a stuffing in sandwich or wraps.

Nutrition Facts for Broccoli

The nutritional values of "Broccoli" per 100 grams are:

Nutrition Summary
Total Calories 34
Protein 2.8 g
Fat 0.4 g
Carbohydrate 6.6 g
NutrientsAmount%Daily Value
Calcium, Ca 47 mg 4.7 %
Copper, Cu 0.05 mg 2.45 %
Iron, Fe 0.73  mg 4.06 %
Magnesium, Mg 21 mg 5.25 %
Manganese, Mn 0.21 mg 10.5 %
Phosphorus, P 66 mg 6.6 %
Potassium, K 316  mg 9.03 %
Selenium, Se 2.5 mcg 3.57 %
Sodium, Na 33 mg 1.38 %
Zinc, Zn 0.41 mg 2.73 %
Vitamin A 623  IU 12.46 %
Vitamin C 89.2 mg 148.67 %
Vitamin B6 0.18 mg 8.75 %
Vitamin E 0.78 mg 2.6 %
Vitamin K 101.6  mcg 127 %
Riboflavin 0.12  mg 6.88 %
Thiamin 0.07 mg 4.73 %
Folate, DFE 63  mcg 15.75 %
Niacin 0.64  mg 3.2 %
Sugars 1.7 g
Fiber 2.6  g 10.4 %
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Water 89.3 g
Carotene, alpha 25 mcg
Carotene, beta 361  mcg
Choline 18.7 mg
Lycopene 0  mcg
View all +
Data source: USDA Nutrient Database, R25
*Percent Daily Values (%DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.

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