broccoli

Broccoli Health Benefits

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Broccoli – Latin name ‘Brassica Oleracea’ is part of the ‘super food’ cabbage family known as cruciferous vegetables and one of the healthiest vegetables (or foods for that matter) you can eat.

These ‘little trees’ contain a whole host of health benefits; including anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits, good for the digestive and cardiovascular system, can help treat cancer, can enhance detoxification, and is good for the skin.

And unless you pour cheese sauce all over it, broccoli is virtually fat-free and low in calories.

Here are the most significant health benefits of broccoli:

Good for the Heart

The numerous health benefits of broccoli make this a real power-house vegetable and one of the top 20 heart-healthy foods of all time according to the July 21, 2010 Web MD article, “25 Top Heart-Healthy Foods“.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition, affirmed the heart-healthy benefits of eating cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Researchers suggested this may be due to fiber-related nutrients they contain, which bind with fat and forces the liver to secret more cholesterol.

Bad LDL cholesterol ‘furs up’ and causes the arteries around the heart to narrow placing significant stress on the heart. Eating broccoli and similar green leafy vegetables helps to keep the cardiovascular system clear and healthy.

May Help Prevent Cancer

As with most green, leafy vegetables, broccoli contains high amounts of cancer fighting nutrients. It is rated by the US National Cancer Institute as the number 1 cancer fighting vegetable due to substances called indoles and glucosinolate which flush out cancer forming compounds.

Broccoli is particularly high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and detoxification components, all of which combine to not only reduce your risk of developing many different cancers, but treating then as well.

It is particularly effective in fighting breast and uterus cancer, as it removes excess estrogen from the body.

Broccoli and Detoxification

Broccoli is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and the minerals manganese and zinc, which all act to help detoxify the body from harmful free radicals and toxins.

Aids the Digestive System

Fiber is the main component that aids and supports the digestive system, keeping it functioning as it should. An average serving of broccoli will provide you with around 50% of your daily recommended intake of fiber.

So many stomach disorders stemming from constipation can be attributed to not eating enough fiber or roughage. Broccoli has fiber in abundance and a great way to ensure your digestive system is in good form.

Skin Protection

This super veg just keeps giving; scientists discovered that broccoli sprouts contains sulforaphane, a compound that protects the skin from harmful ultra violet (UV) radiation caused by exposure to the suns rays.

Broccoli doesn’t work in the same way as sun cream, which absorbs UV radiation, keeping it away from the skin. Instead it causes an increase in protective enzyme proteins in the skins cells that keep them from being damaged by UV rays for several days.

I’m not sure how practical it would be to apply broccoli paste to our bodies in order to protect ourselves from the sun! But I’ve no doubt that some skin protection cream will materialize as a result of these findings.

Eye Care

Broccoli contains significant levels of lutein and zeaxanthin which greatly contributes to the overall health of our eyes.

These two carotenoids are shown to lessen the effects of macular degeneration of the eye, and problems involving the lens of the eye, particularly cataracts.

Nutritional Facts

Broccoli contains virtually zero saturated fat or cholesterol. It is a good source of vitamins C and K (1 cup providing over 100% of your recommended daily intake) and vitamin A.

It has high levels of folic acid and dietary fiber, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, protein, iron, calcium, manganese, tryptophan, potassium, B vitamins and zinc.

How to Eat Broccoli

As with any fruit and vegetables, you can eat broccoli raw. Just make sure it is washed first. You can easily add it to salads or a stir fry.

However, the best way to eat broccoli in order to preserve its nutrients, is to steam it. Steaming will actually enable your digestive system to absorb more minerals and vitamins.

A lot of people boil broccoli, and if you do, try and limit the time spent in the pan as much as possible. Soft, mushy broccoli from over-cooking will mean that most of the healthy nutrients get lost. If possible try and use the water it is cooked in for stock.

Here’s a delicious and simple broccoli soup recipe that I make all the time:

Broccoli Supplements

If you really don’t like the taste of broccoli but understand that it is packed with health promoting nutrients and would like to benefit from this natural source, try taking a natural supplement:

Broccoli Sprouts Tablets

  • Freshly germinated broccoli sprouts contain from 30 to 50 times the concentration of isothiocyanates as mature broccoli.
  • Provides 2,000 mcg of sulforaphane daily, equivalent to eating more than a pound of fresh broccoli.

Miracle Greens

  • An abundant source of antioxidants and health promoting nutrients.
  • Contains certified organic barley greens, proven to be the most effective and least allergenic of all greens.
  • No artificial flavoring. Not tested on animals. No added sugar. Low-glycemic. No preservatives or added ingredients.

Conclusion

The natural health benefits of broccoli play a significant part in keeping the body functioning as it should. It is the best vegetable you can eat to protect and fight against cancer, and with all the other minerals and vitamins it boasts, broccoli should be high on your ‘vegetables to buy’ list.

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