Why our parents were right about broccoli

Tuesday, March 14, 2017. Author Tyler Breedlove

As a child, you probably remember seeing a big heaping pile of broccoli sitting on the side of your plate. Chances are, you probably also avoided those big green trees like the plague. “Eat your broccoli. It’s good for you!” echoes in our dinnertime memories. You tried to ignore them. Push them aside. Poke them with your fork… but they never went away.

Sad to say, your parents were right. Broccoli is incredibly good for you. How dare you try and feed it to the dog.

70,000 tons

Broccoli is a member of the Brassica family and is related to other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage. Scientifically, it is known as Brassica oleracea var. Italica.

In case you were wondering, the primary region of broccoli’s export is in the Spanish region of Murcia. Over 70,000 tons are exported from there every year!

Healthy bites

Broccoli is yet another great addition to our list of health-promoting vegetables. So, what makes broccoli so healthy?

Broccoli contains an incredibly large amount of different antioxidants:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Polyphenols
  • Glucosinolates
  • Carotenoids
  • Ascorbic Acid

A couple things you should know. Polyphenols are a very large group of compounds that includes flavonoids and phenolic acids. If you remember from previous articles, these have protective effects for the cardiovascular system. Additionally, they also have various anti-carcinogenic properties. Research suggests that consumption of cruciferous vegetables may reduce the risk of various forms of cancer; such as lung, stomach and colon cancers.

Another aspect of Broccoli that is typical of cruciferous vegetables, are the compounds it contains known as glucosinolates, which are known for cancer prevention. Glucosinolates themselves actually hold very little anti-carcinogenic effects, but once the broccoli is chopped, crushed, or chewed, the real magic happens. Enzymes in the broccoli are released and the glucosinolates are converted into “indolic compounds” which have been shown to hold the cancer protective effects.

So, I’m sorry to say, that you have to eat the broccoli to get the benefits. Staring at it and hoping for osmosis won’t work.

Nutritional breakdown

Around 150 grams of cooked broccoli contains:

  • 11 grams of carbohydrates
  • 5 grams of fiber
  • 4 grams of protein
  • 6 grams of fat

As mentioned, it contains Vitamin C and Vitamin E. It also contains Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Chromium, Folate, Magnesium, Calcium and more!

Maximize the health benefits

Most people like to eat their broccoli cooked. It’s important to know that not all cooking methods are equal! Research suggests that when cooking broccoli, consider eating it raw, using a pressure cooker, or steaming it. The normal methods of boiling in water and frying have been shown to decrease the availability of those healthy compounds we’ve previously talked about.

The genetics

Now, understanding your genetics can play a key role in knowing if and how you would benefit from the consumption of broccoli. This becomes very relevant when we look at certain genes.

If you enjoyed this article, please see my other healthy FitnessGenes food blogs to see what other ingredients are most suitable for your genotype: Pears, celeriac, brussels sprouts, eggplant, ginger, apples, turmeric, cinnamon, green beans, grits, pears, pumpkin, buckwheat, dark chocolate and oats

 

References:

Broccoli. (n.d.) Retrieved March 14, 2017 from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=9

Gliszczyńska-Świgło, A., Ciska, E., Pawlak-Lemańska, K., Chmielewski, J., Borkowski, T., & Tyrakowska, B. (2006). Changes in the content of health-promoting compounds and antioxidant activity of broccoli after domestic processing. Food additives and contaminants, 23(11), 1088-1098.

Kohlmeier, L., & Su, L. (1997, February). Cruciferous vegetable consumption and colorectal cancer risk: Meta-analysis of the epidemiological evidence. FASEB Journal, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 2141-2141.

Yuan, G. F., Sun, B., Yuan, J., & Wang, Q. M. (2009). Effects of different cooking methods on health-promoting compounds of broccoli. Journal of Zhejiang University Science B, 10(8), 580.

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