Have we ever wondered why so many emphasis and adverts is laid on the consumption of “5 a day” i.e we should try as much as possible to consume minimum of 5 fruits and vegetables per day, this is because of the benefits associated with eating them on a regular basis especially with the level of fast food and inorganic food we consumed. Today we will be talking about broccoli and its health benefits. Broccoli belongs to the cabbage family and it is normally cultivated in Italy, Italians usually refer to it as Broccolo which means cabbage sprout. Broccoli contains numerous amounts of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients when consumed in an appropriate manner and on a regular basis.
Over 300 research studies have been conducted to understand the important role of broccoli against cancer and our health in general. Broccoli is a very good source of immune-supportive vitamin C, anti-inflammatory vitamin K, and heart-healthy folate. It is also a rich source of free-radical-scavenging vitamin A (because of the high amount of carotenoid phytonutrients in it), enzyme-activating manganese and molybdenum; very high fibre content which help to support our digestive system; heart-healthy potassium and vitamin B6; and energy-producing vitamin B2 and phosphorus. Broccoli contain large amount of this water soluble and energy-producing vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, protein, and iron; bone-healthy magnesium and calcium; and antioxidant-supportive vitamin E and selenium.
There are 3 main metabolic problems which predispose us to cancers which include: (a) Oxidative stress (b) Chronic Inflammation (c) Inadequate detoxification.
One of the recent research on broccoli confirm that it contain 3 dynamic phytonutrients (Glucoraphanin, gluconasturtian and glucobrassicin) which support our body in all the process of detoxification. The phytonutrient content of broccoli assists in activating, neutralizing and eliminating all the detrimental contaminants in our body.
Do you that broccoli may help to combat the problem of osteoporosis (weak and fragile bone) because of vitamin D deficiency? Broccoli contain a useful amount of Vitamin A in form of beta-carotene and Vitamin K, these 2 vitamins can help to keep our vitamin D metabolism in balance proportion. So if you would like to build your bone health and increase the vitamin D level in your children’s body for stronger bones, consumption of broccoli is the answer rather than getting vitamin D supplement.
Broccoli has an anti-inflammatory phytonutrient (a flavonoid called kaempferol). In our digestive system, this phytonutrient has the ability to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances (by lowering the immune system's production of IgE-antibodies). By lessening the impact of allergy-related substances, the kaempferol in broccoli can help lower our risk of chronic inflammation.
It also has special cholesterol-lowering benefits; the fiber-related components in broccoli join together with bile acids in our digestive tract, this process further lead to excretion of bile acids from our system, resulting into low cholesterol level. It is advisable to have our broccoli steamed rather than being fully cooked or in a microwave. The vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, and carotenoids contained in broccoli work to lower risk of oxidative stress in the body.
Another major benefit of broccoli is its cancer fighting content: studies done concluded that regular consumption of broccoli reduces our risk of developing prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, bladder cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer. This is because broccoli contain a distinctive combination of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and pro-detoxification components which protect us against the afore-mentioned type of cancer. Further studies are on-going for other types of cancer.
Advice: Many of us do not consume broccoli on a regular basis, I would suggest that broccoli should be part of our regular diet; consumption of it twice or thrice a week will go a long way to improve our health and reduce our risk of developing diseases such as cancer and certain vitamins and mineral deficiency. An average of 44 calories i.e about full cup of broccoli per two (2) days is enough to provide us with a quantifiable benefit. Broccoli should be steamed for about 5 minutes so as to enjoy the flavour and other health benefits, if it is too soft or mashed most of the nutrient might have been lost during cooking.