Superfoods Profile: Broccoli


[brok-uh-lee, brok-lee]
a form of a cultivated cruciferous plant, Brassica oleracea botrytis, whose leafy stalks and clusters of usually green buds are eaten as a vegetable.

A lot of children are told to eat their greens and it’s with good reason. Broccoli gets a good wrap, its basically a large flower head from the cabbage family of plants. The name broccoli literally means “the flowering top of a cabbage” in Italian.
Broccoli originates from the Northern Mediterranean and was cultivated as early as the 6th Century BC. It has been considered a valuable food source since the Roman Empire and was introduced to the US by Italian immigrants in the 1920’s.

Allergies: Kaempferol is a flavonoid that can lessen the impact of allergy-related substances in the body. Broccoli is  a rich source of kaempferol and the presence of this molecule might explain the unique anti-inflammatory benefits of eating broccoli.
Vitamin C: half a cup of broccoli contains more than 52 mg of vitamin C (recommended daily intake of vitamin C is 30 mg for women and 40 mg for men), a powerful antioxidant that can neutralise free radicals (unstable chemicals that can damage cell membranes and other structures leading to disease and ageing). Antioxidants found in food work much better than those obtained from supplements.
Help restore vitamin D: Vitamin K and vitamin A assist in balancing vitamin D in the body. To get the maximum benefit from you vitamin D capsules, consider regularly eating broccoli.
Fibre: broccoli contains a significant amount of fibre (particularly if you eat the stalk, my favourite part). Fibre supports our digestive systems like nothing else, influencing the transit of food through our bodies and supports the growth of good bacteria. It is essential for good health and by eating broccoli you’re getting a lot of fibre per bite (1 gram of dietary finer for every 10 calories).
Cholesterol lowering properties: by steaming broccoli, the fibre-related components naturally found in broccoli make it easier for bile acids to be excreted, resulting in a lowering of cholesterol levels.
Anti-cancer properties: some studies have shown that the compounds that make broccoli bitter have anti-cancer properties by stopping cancer cells from growing and at the same time stimulate parts of the immure system. Ironically, growers and supermarket chains are growing strains of broccoli that are not as bitter but by doing so they are reducing the amount of these anti-cancer compounds. There is still a small amount of protective chemicals, 10 mg per gram in ‘sweet’ broccoli varieties but some of the more bitter varieties contain up to 70 mg per gram. Therefore, in this case butter is better.
Anti-bacteria & anti-viral: broccoli contains a compound that is both anti-bacteria and anti-viral
DNA repair: broccoli is an excellent source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that boosts DNA repair in cells. DNA damage is associated with ageing and disease so better to look after your double helix.
Antioxidants: apart from vitamin C, broccoli contains other antioxidants providing high levels of carotenoids. It is is particularly rich in lutein and has a modest amount of beta-carotene. These compounds are know to protect against eye disease and are vital for good health.

Tip: Better not boil it. Boiling broccoli reduces significantly reduces the amount of ‘good’ chemicals, up to 50% if boiled for 10 minutes (yuck). The good news is that steaming, stir frying and microwaving broccoli has been shown to have no significant effect to these same compounds (yummy).

So add broccoli to your diet 3 to 4 times a week and remember that ‘bitter is better’.

Cut a whole broccoli into quarters and serve as the veggie component of your meal
Creamy broccoli soup
Broccoli with garlic and cashews
Spicy broccoli and quinoa salad
Sesame broccoli side dish

Broccoli is easier to grown than cauliflower, it is cultivated in a similar way to cabbage. Why now try growing some yourself.

Sources:, Wikipedia, Better Health Chanel, Great Moments in Science and The World’s Healthiest Foods.