Broccoli is a miracle of a vegetable: not only is does its green color make it vividly beautiful, but it's incredibly delicious and healthful all at the same time.,
- ...boosts your immune system. If you want to protect yourself against colds, a broccoli-rich diet is a great place to start. With 115 milligrams of vitamin c per 100 grams, even a mini portion of broccoli provides more than the daily dose recommended by experts. Heat can break down those vitamins, so if you’re looking to get your full dose of vitamin c, make sure to eat the broccoli raw or very lightly steamed.
- ...might help protect against certain types of cancers. Scientists worldwide have been researching the positive effects of broccoli in the prevention of cancer for years. The results so far are impressive: certain substances and the entire combination of ingredients in broccoli have been proven to help prevent certain types of cancers. New studies also show that the substance sulforaphane contained in broccoli attacks aggressive tumor stem cells and can increase the efficacy of chemotherapy.
- ...helps maintain good vision. With 146 milligrams per 100 grams, broccoli is a fantastic source of vitamin A, which helps support healthy skin and eyes.
- ...can help you lose weight. Broccoli is a dream ingredient for dieters, with few calories, hardly any carbohydrates and practically no fat. Broccoli’s abundance of micronutrients can also boost the metabolism.
- ...can help protect against diabetes. An English study of 75,000 participants showed that people who eat broccoli frequently can reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by about 14 percent.
- ...can get you in shape faster. If you’re recently taken up an exercise regimen, broccoli might help you stick to it. U.S. researchers found that broccoli contains a substance called quercetin which can increase performance by up to 13 percent.
- ...reduces the risk of sunburn. Broccoli contains a substance called sulforaphane, which can reduce the redness of the skin caused by harmful UV rays by an average of 38 percent. Protection against sunburn is achieved by stimulating the formation of certain proteins in the skin cells.
What You Should Know About Broccoli
Broccoli’s ubiquity in the American diet is well-deserved: its combination of good looks, delicious flavor and wide-ranging health benefits have made if one of the most popular and versatile vegetables on the market for years.
Broccoli is the undisputed star of the cabbage family. It occupies a special botanical role along with kohlrabi and cauliflower, in that its edible part is its flower, not its leaves. That flower owes its beautiful green color to broccoli’s high chlorophyll content and intensive exposure to sunlight. However remember there are a variety of different kinds of broccoli available; head to your local farmers market in summer and you’re sure to find an array of different-looking varieties, from white and yellow broccoli to purple and nearly-black variations.
Originally native to Asia, broccoli now grows practically all over the world. It is cultivated in almost all of Europe, the U.S. and Asia.
Broccoli is in season in the U.S. from June through November.
Broccoli has a distinct, slightly spicy flavor. Although it is part of the cabbage family, broccoli tends to taste far more like asparagus.
How Healthy is Broccoli?
Broccoli’s reputation for being incredibly healthy is well-deserved. It is rich in proteins and fibers, and studies have shown that its high levels of sulphur substances and beta-carotenes can render free radicals harmless, supporting the body cells and the immune system.
Broccoli might even aid in preventing certain types of cancer. A recent U.S. study found that broccoli’s high levels of the active plant substance indole-3-carbinol (I3C) can also slow down the growth of degenerate cells.
On top of all that, broccoli is a fantastic source of so many nutrients that contribute to whole body health. It has the most vitamin C of any vegetable in the cabbage family, with 115 milligrams per 100 gram serving, and is packed with protein and assorted minerals.
This superfood also contains the carotenoid lutein, which helps protect our eyes.
|Broccoli Nutritional Info (100 g)|
Shopping and Cooking Tips
When shopping for broccoli, make sure that the buds are still firmly closed and that the head isn’t loose, and feels firm to the touch. Broccoli that has yellowed slightly or whose buds have opened have already lost much of their nutrients and flavor.
Prepare fresh broccoli as soon as possible to ensure peak flavor, texture and nutrition. If you need to store it for a few days keep it in the refrigerator. Wrapping it in foil will add an extra day or two of freshness. Once the broccoli has yellowed and become limp, its lost the majority of its nutrients and flavor.
Preparing broccoli couldn’t be simpler. First wash it under running water and shake it slightly dry. If you want to separate the broccoli into small florets, grab the stem with one hand and cut off each floret individually, until you just have the stem left. If you want to cook broccoli whole, all you have to do is cut off the stalk. The leaves can be removed, but don't have to - they can also be cooked along with the broccoli. Whether you peel the large stalk and the small stalks of the florets is a matter of taste. It becomes more tender when the skin comes off, but is more nutritious if left unskinned.
A short cooking time ensures that broccoli retains its optimal nutrition and flavor. Depending on the size, about 4-8 minutes are sufficient for the florets. If you cook broccoli whole, make it 12-15 minutes.
Remember that broccoli stems are far too good to throw away. Peeled, they taste very tender and a bit like asparagus. Depending on their thickness, the stems of broccoli can be steamed in a little salted water, either whole or in slices. They’ll be perfecty tender after about 12-14 minutes.
What To Make With Broccoli
Apart from putting it in a cake or pie, there’s almost nothing you can't do with broccoli. It tastes just as good steamed in a side dish with meat, fish, poultry or egg dishes as it does in a soup, a stew or as a topping for a healthy pizza. Broccoli is great in Asian dishes, thrown into a wok with rice or tofu. Fried broccoli tastes great as an appetizer, served with parmesan and capers or a cream-based dip. Broccoli is also perfect in vegetarian main dishes such as casseroles, couscous, vegetable pastas and curry.
Broccoli is also delicious raw, nibbled as a snack with ranch dip or thrown into a healthy summer or fall salad.