Broccoli (Brassica oleracea) packs one of the more powerful nutritional punches. Numerous studies indicate that those seeking to follow a diet high in antioxidants as well as other cancer preventing and immune boosting components would do well to include this plant in their weekly menu plan. Although it is more popular as a side dish, broccoli is also available in supplement form.
As a food, broccoli is easy to find, inexpensive to purchase, and simple to prepare. It has an aesthetically pleasing appearance with each green stalk resembling a small tree topped by a fluffy floret. This now ubiquitous food was a dietary staple of ancient Rome dating back historically to the 6th century. It was brought to the United States by Italian immigrants and, as it turns out, we have much to thank them for.
This awesome veggie has been celebrated for years for its high contents of Vitamins A and C, but recent studies have demonstrated that broccoli’s nutritional profile is much more impressive. It contains phyto-nutrients that boast stellar cancer fighting abilities as well as reduce inflammation levels and support eye health.
Broccoli falls into the category of “cruciferous” vegetables. Like its cruciferous cousins, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts , and kale, it contains cancer fighting substances called “indoles.” Specific indoles found in broccoli are diindolylmethane known as “DIM” and its precursor Indole-3-carbinol (I3C). These not only support overall immune health, but aid the body in processing and eliminating harmful estrogens that may otherwise contribute to the development of hormone related cancers. For this reason, the regular consumption of broccoli or supplements derived from it may help prevent breast and ovarian cancers in women and prostate cancer in men.
In addition to this, broccoli has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. The specific ingredient in broccoli is the flavonoid “kaempferol”, one that has been shown to reduce the impact of allergy triggering substances on the body. Since inflammation has been isolated as a major culprit behind the development of most diseases, this shows promise to those wishing to maintain overall health.
Along with a high content of Vitamin A, broccoli also contains high levels of other carotenoids which have been shown to benefit eye health as well as boost immunity. The specific carotenoids here are lutein and zeaxanthin. Both have been credited with preventing eye problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
Aside from its immune boosting properties and cancer fighting phyto-nutrients, broccoli provides other important health benefits. It is rich in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. One cup of raw broccoli contains 2.35 grams of cholesterol lowering fiber and roughly 180 grams of calcium. This is good news for those interested in supporting cardio vascular health and maintaining bone density. Studies have also shown that this vegetable also encourages healthy detoxification, a process crucial to good health in general.
Broccoli may be found in the produce section of any grocery store. Its leaves, stalks, florets and sprouts are all edible. The most popular ways of consuming this power packed vegetable would be eating it raw or steaming it lightly. Both ways have their advantages; however, overcooking reduces the nutritional content as well as the flavor.
The suggested serving amount of broccoli that ensures one will reap its numerous health benefits would be a half cup per day. You can also get same effect from 2 full cups a week. Eating broccoli sprouts is also recommended as they contain even higher levels of vitamin C than the stalks or florets. It is also friendly to the waistline as one cup of raw broccoli has only 30 calories.
For those who still resist eating their veggies, you can find small amounts of broccoli in proprietary blends that include a wide variety of other green foods. This is sold in powdered combinations that may be mixed with water or blended into smoothies for everyday consumption. There are also numerous companies that offer capsules containing I3C or DIM. Many of these are derived from broccoli sprouts as they capture the entire nutrient profile in a concentrated form. Recommended doses are 100-200 milligrams for women and 200-400 milligrams for men.
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