The Health Benefits of Broccoli (Calabrese)
Discover what makes broccoli so healthy, from fibre to vitamins and minerals. We share the most nutritious ways to cook it in healthy broccoli recipes.
What is broccoli?
Broccoli is a branched, green vegetable with either purple or more commonly green flower buds. It belongs to the cruciferous family, along with cauliflower, cabbage and kale and it can be eaten raw or cooked, with just 80g (about 2 spears) counting as one of your five-a-day.
Nutritional benefits of broccoli
There have been many health claims over the years about broccoli and whether it could be labelled a 'super-food' or not, but its nutrient-rich profile does offer some real health benefits.
Broccoli is a good source of fibre and protein, and contains iron, potassium, calcium, selenium and magnesium as well as the vitamins A, C, E, K and a good array of B vitamins including folic acid.
Is broccoli good for heart health?
A study by Nutrition Research found that consuming steamed broccoli regularly lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing the total amount of cholesterol in the body. Another study in the US also found that increasing vegetables in the diet, especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, could reduce the risk of heart disease.
Can broccoli help build strong bones?
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that is needed for blood clotting, and may play an important role in keeping our bones healthy and strong. Whilst more research is needed, there has been consistent evidence that vitamin K can improve bone health in general as well as increasing bone mineral density and reducing fracture rates in those with osteoporosis.
Adults need 1 mcg of vitamin K per kilogram of body weight, which means a 75kg adult would need 75mcg of vitamin K a day. Just 100g steamed broccoli provides 145mcg of vitamin K, so this nutrient can be easily achieved through diet alone.
Please note, if you are taking blood thinners such as warfarin, you need to be mindful of your vitamin K consumption as it may interact with the medication, so check with your GP before making any dietary changes.
Is broccoli good for eye health?
Broccoli contains certain carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin that, in studies in 2006 and 2003, were linked to a decreased risk of age-related eye disorders, such as cataract and macular degeneration. Night blindness is also associated with a deficiency of vitamin A. Broccoli contains beta-carotene which the body converts to vitamin A.
Is broccoli best eaten raw or cooked?
A 2008 report by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that boiling and steaming was best for preserving broccoli’s antioxidant status, but that cooking can destroy vitamin C. Another piece of research, however, demonstrated that raw broccoli was best when it comes to preserving the levels of sulforaphane. In short, whether you eat broccoli raw or cooked, it is a valuable addition to a balanced diet.
Healthy broccoli recipes for you to try at home:
Stir-fried chicken with broccoli & brown rice: www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/stir-fried-chicken-broccoli-brown-rice
Steak & broccoli protein pots (GF): www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/steak-broccoli-protein-pots
Poached eggs with broccoli, tomatoes & wholemeal flatbread (V): www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/poached-eggs-broccoli-tomatoes-wholemeal-flatbread
Light Thai green curry (V)(VE): www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/light-thai-green-curry
[Sourced from: www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-broccoli - By Nicola Shubrook, a qualified nutritionist registered with the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT), with over 10 years experience]