Broccoli - The storehouse of nutrients
Filled with essential micronutrients and minerals, broccoli is a superfood with many health benefits. Here's all you need to know about the green florets and why you shouldn’t eye them sceptically or keep them aside when you eat your next meal!
The progression in the field of food and nutrition has led to the emergence of a new category of food, known as “superfoods.” These are unique foods that possess the potential to impart several benefits to the body, including protection against diseases and boosting the immune system.
Superfoods can contain food from various groups, like fruits, vegetables, and grains. Broccoli, a type of cruciferous vegetable, is among the vegetables acclaimed to be a superfood too. Read on to know why!
Nutrients and Minerals
Broccoli can be pureed into soup, chopped as a salad, or creatively blended into a dip. This striking green veggie is also easy to incorporate into several dishes. Moreover, broccoli nutrients too are wide in range. The following is a brief breakup:
Water:Broccoli contains high water content, and as a water-rich vegetable, it’s an ideal meal to keep you hydrated. The overall content of calories in broccoli is very minimal.
Calories(34kcal):Being one of the healthiest food choices, calories in broccoli are in scarce amounts, making it perfect for those looking for weight loss foods.
Fibre(2.6g):Broccoli contains plenty of dietary fibre. Dietary fibre is known to improve gut health and is directly associated with lowering body weight.
Potassium(316mg):A nutrient present within all cells, potassium is attributed to transporting signals from the nerves and regulating blood pressure; a deficiency of which can lead to weakness and muscle cramps. Presence of potassium plays a major role in broccoli’s nutritional value.
Vitamin C(89.2mg):This is one of the broccoli nutrients that is found in abundance in this superfood. Like many cruciferous vegetables, broccoli too is rich in Vitamin C, which aids in improving skin health and speeds up wound healing.
Folate/vitamin B9(63mcg):Folate is essential for making DNA - the genetic material of cells. It is also essential for red blood cell formation and function. It also helps to increase appetite when needed and stimulates the formation of digestive acids.
Organosulphur compounds:These give broccoli its distinctive taste and odour, and are known to be anti-aging and anti-microbial.
Health Benefits of Broccoli
Broccoli health benefits are immense, owing to its impressive nutritional profile. Here are a few advantages to making broccoli a part of your regular meals.
Protective towards cells:Free radicals are produced as a common byproduct in the body and are a result of several reactions that occur internally. However, free radicals are highly unstable and need to be eliminated. This is where antioxidants step in, the substances that stabilise free radicals and prevent them from damaging normal cells. The major natural antioxidants in broccoli are vitamins C and E, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds. While each of these can function singularly, their presence as a blend of antioxidants in broccoli results in a synergistic effect and can combat free radicals more strongly.
Helps lower cholesterol levels:Glucoraphanin is a sulphur-containing compound found naturally in broccoli. Increased amounts of glucoraphanin have been observed to reduce LDL - cholesterol, which is often regarded as an unhealthy fat that can lead to heart related complications.
Improved gut health:Benefits of eating broccoli
florets include their role in helping the microorganisms to thrive and flourish in the gut. Broccoli has the ability to alter the microorganisms in the large intestine and increase the good bacteria needed while reducing the levels of potentially harmful species.
Helps you build muscles:Packed with protein, which is also known as the building block of muscles, broccoli is an excellent choice for fitness fanatics.
May help with weight loss and diabetes:
Apart from the fact that broccoli has dietary fibre that is known to control apetite, broccoli is useful against insulin resistance. This is a condition in the body where the cells cannot utilise insulin, the hormone needed to normalise glucose levels in the blood.
Beneficial for eyes:Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is a substance present in broccoli that has a therapeutic effect against the degradation of the retina of the eye. Broccoli also contains beta carotene, the nutrient that is converted to Vitamin A in the body and preserves eyesight.
Reverses skin damage:Broccoli benefits for skin are due to the high quantity of sulforaphane, a component present in the vegetable that can accelerate the detoxification of skin cells. It can also exhibit the potential to repair the damage already caused to skin due to sun exposure.
Cooking Broccoli and Storage Tips
Once harvested, broccoli continues to respire and the storage time leads to negative changes in appearance, taste, texture and flavour attributes. The following are a few tips to slow or deter these undesirable changes:
- Decrease the storage temperature. Storing at 0°C helps preserve chlorophyll (the green pigment), glucosinolate, and sulforaphane.
- Choose a more resilient cultivar - a variety that is more resistant to changes.
- Studies show that cooking affects the glucosinolate profile of broccoli based on the processing manner and cooking time.
- Steaming is a preferred method of cooking broccoli as it preserves its nutritional value. Additionally, microwaving is also one of the best options for cooking broccoli. Since cooking time impacts the sulforaphane content, it is suggested that the highest sulforaphane content may be retained at 7 min of steaming or 5 min of microwaving.
As the definition of food expands to accommodate the aspect of preventing ailments, superfoods are becoming increasingly popular in current times. Broccoli isn’t left behind in the race and is a promising veggie, boasting a multifaceted nutritional profile. Apart from it being packed with nutrition, it is also versatile enough to be added to a number of different recipes like salads, parathas and even soups. While it is an important source of micronutrients and bioactive components, broccoli benefits are also physiological, enticing us to not stay behind in availing its many perks!