Beneficial Foods Part 1: Broccoli
Many people talk about increasing your intake of veggies and fruits, but don’t always explain “why” each food is good for you and what it is actually doing to your body.
In this series I will bring you bite-sized information to help you understand why you should consume more of nature’s best medicine.
Part 1: Broccoli
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that originated in Italy and developed from wild cabbage in roughly the 6th century B.C.₃ It’s name is derived from the Italian word “Brocco” and the Latin word “Brachium”4,3 The plant then came to France around 1560 and was not widely known until the 1700’s. Thomas Jefferson imported seeds from Italy to the U.S. and began growing them as early as May 1767.3
Broccoli is a powerhouse of nutrients including:1,2
-Vitamin A – beta-carotene
-Flavonoids (like quercetin)
What do all these nutrients do for you? Here’s just a few things!
The flavonoids and lutein have been shown to protect against cataracts.1,2 Flavonoids are also beneficial in helping to fight cardiovascular disease and cancer by helping to modify the body’s reactions to allergens, viruses and carcinogens.1
The added bonus is that anything that is beneficial for your heart is beneficial for your brain! “Take lowering your cholesterol. If your arteries are clogged with sludge, the blood carrying needed oxygen has trouble flowing to your brain, you you can’t think as well & that’s a set up for memory loss, says Jim Joseph PhD, chief of the neuroscience laboratory at Tuft’s University in Boston”2
Broccoli has a strong impact on our body’s ability to detoxify itself.6 The amount of phytonutrients that broccoli provides allows the body to neutralize and eliminate harmful toxins, like dioxin, from the body.3 Dioxin can severely affect the body’s hormone levels. Phytochemicals such as indoles also help regulate excess estrogen in the blood into a safer form, which can reduce the risk of estrogen-linked cancers.5 Other cancers to reduce the risk for by consuming 1 cup steamed broccoli and other cruciferous veggies 5-7days/week are:2
You can also increase your Vitamin D intake because of the ample amounts of Vitamin A & K in broccoli.6 If you are taking blood thinners consult your doctor though as Vitamin K can interfere with the absorption of the medication.
The Vitamin K in broccoli can even help prevent the chance of fracturing a hip when you are older!2 And for those of you with inflammatory issues you’re in luck! Broccoli has amazing anti-inflammatory properties.6
Now, you can consume other cruciferous vegetables throughout the week to maintain the health benefits without becoming bored with your food. Foods like bok choy, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips, swiss chard, rutabaga, kohlrabi, brocoflower, arugula, watercress, daikon, wasabi & broccoli sprouts.
Be sure to look for some great recipes including broccoli and all it’s benefits!
1. Pratt MD, Steven; Super Health, Signet 2009 p54, 55-56, 236
2. Pierre M.S., R.D., Colleen; The New Healing Foods, American Master Products 2005 p368-371
3. Broccoli: Health Benefits, Risks & Nutrition Facts; Rob Owen-Wahl
4. 21 Benefits and Uses of Broccoli; Saba
5. Broccoli & Estrogen; Amina Elbasheer
6. What’s new and beneficial about broccoli. This article was PACKED with information from many studies. If you get a chance read it through.
photograph courtesy of LPM Photography