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Broccoli – Health Benefits, Nutrition Facts

More and more people are now interested about broccoli health benefits. Behind the vegetable’s seemingly unpleasant taste are loads of nutrients that are good for the body. Broccoli makes ordinary dishes like stews, omelets, stir fries, soups and pasta healthier. It can also be served cooked as a side dish or eaten raw with sauce.

There are indeed many broccoli health benefits making it one of the healthiest vegetables in the market. It is known to contain excellent amounts of phytochemicals which help prevent cancer. All parts of broccoli are edible, from the flower buds and leaves to the thick and green stalks. Adding broccoli to one’s diet helps improve his/her quality of life.

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History of Broccoli

Broccoli belongs to the Brassicaceae family along with Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. It was first harvested in the Northern Mediterranean during 6th century B.C.E and was popular in Italian cuisine in the days of the Roman Empire. Broccoli became known in England in mid-1700s and later on in the U.S. as Italians inhabited the country during the 20th century.

Broccoli is often mistaken as cauliflower. However, broccoli has a different color, taste and nutrients. Moreover, there are various kinds of broccoli and the most common of which is the sprouting broccoli or Calabrese. Other varieties of broccoli sold these days are purple broccoli, broccoflower and Romanesco broccoli.

Health Benefits of Broccoli

  • Boosts immunity

Broccoli contains the essential nutrients needed to boost the immune system such as Vitamin C, beta-carotene, selenium and zinc.

  • Prevents birth defects

This vegetable helps in preventing birth defects due to its high amount of folate or folic acid which is essential in cell division during pregnancy. Folate deficiency can lead to birth defects like spina bifida.

  • Promotes good vision and cancer prevention

Broccoli contains good amounts of zeaxanthin and lutein which are essential for good eyesight. It is also an excellent source of antioxidants and phytochemicals which help in preventing cancer.

  • Treats diabetes

Since broccoli has significant amount of fiber, it can help in treating diabetes. Fiber works in keeping the blood sugar level low.

  • Increases testosterone level

Men can particularly benefit from eating broccoli as it improves the testosterone level. Broccoli does this by reducing the level of estrogen in men.

  • Strong bones

Broccoli is an excellent source of calcium to strengthen the bones. This is especially beneficial for people who are lactose intolerant, as obtaining calcium from dairy products is difficult.

Side Effects of Broccoli

Broccoli health benefits can be obtained if taken in good amounts. But too much broccoli can cause undesirable side effects. People with thyroid problems should avoid this vegetable due to the presence of goitrogens which disturb the normal functioning of the thyroid gland. Allergic rashes may also occur when applied on the skin of hypersensitive individuals.

Broccoli Nutrition facts

Broccoli health benefits are brought by the essential nutrients it contains. These nutrients include folate, calcium, vitamins A, K, B6, B12 and C. Broccoli also contains antioxidants and phytochemicals.

One cup of broccoli would yield the following:

  • Calories – 30
  • Total carbohydrates – 6g
  • Cholesterol – 0mg
  • Dietary fiber – 2g
  • Protein – 2g
  • Sodium – 29mg
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