Broccoli has a reputation as a superfood. It is low in calories but contains a wealth of nutrients and antioxidants that support many aspects of human health.
Broccoli is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Antioxidants can help prevent the development of various conditions.
The body produces molecules called free radicals during natural processes such as metabolism, and environmental stresses add to these. Free radicals, or reactive oxygen species, are toxic in large amounts. They can cause cell damage that can lead to cancer and other conditions.
But besides being a versatile ingredient, if offers many benefits, some of them are:
Reduces the risk of cancer
Cruciferous vegetables contain a range of antioxidants, which may help prevent the type of cell damage that leads to cancer.
One of these is sulforaphane, which is a sulfur-containing compound that gives cruciferous vegetables their bitter bite.
Cruciferous vegetables also contain indole-3-carbinol. Research from 2019 suggests that this compound may have powerful antitumor properties.
Improves bone health
Calcium and collagen work together to make strong bones. Over 99% of the body’s calcium is present in the bones and teeth. The body also needs vitamin C to produce collagen. Both are present in broccoli.
Vitamin K has a role in blood coagulation, but some experts have also suggested that it may help prevent or treat osteoporosis. People with low vitamin K levels may be more likely to experience problems with bone formation. Getting enough vitamin K from the diet may help keep the bones healthy.
Boosts immune health
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that provides a range of benefits.
It supports the immune system and may help prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), cataracts, and anemia. In supplement form, it may also help reduce the symptoms of the common cold and shorten the time a cold lasts.
Improves skin health
Vitamin C helps the body produce collagen, which is the main support system for body cells and organs, including the skin. As an antioxidant, vitamin C can also help prevent skin damage, including wrinkling due to aging.
Studies have shown that vitamin C may play a role in preventing or treating skin conditions such as shingles and skin cancer.
Aides in digestion
Dietary fiber can help promote regularity, prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract, and lower the risk of colon cancer.
In 2015, a screening trial found that people who consumed the highest levels of fiber were less likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who ate little fiber.
When the immune system is under attack, inflammation can occur.
Inflammation can be a sign of a passing infection, but it can also occur with chronic autoimmune conditions such as arthritis and type 1 diabetes. People with metabolic syndrome may also have high levels of inflammation.
Broccoli may have anti-inflammatory effects, according to a 2014 study. Scientists found that the antioxidant effect of sulforaphane in broccoli helped reduce inflammation markers in laboratory tests. They therefore concluded that the nutrients in broccoli could help fight inflammation.
In a 2018 study, 40 otherwise healthy people with overweight consumed 30 g of broccoli sprouts per day for 10 weeks. At the end of the study period, the participants had significantly lower levels of inflammation.
Reduces the risk of diabetes
Research from 2017 suggested that eating broccoli may help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. This is due to its sulforaphane content.
Also, one 2018 review found that people who consume a high fiber diet are less likely to have type 2 diabetes than those who eat little fiber. Fiber may also help reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Protects cardiovascular health
The fiber, potassium, and antioxidants in broccoli may help prevent CVD.
A 2018 population study demonstrated that older women whose diets were rich in cruciferous vegetables had a lower risk of atherosclerosis. This is a condition affecting the arteries that can result in a heart attack or stroke. This benefit may be due to the antioxidant content of cruciferous vegetables, and particularly sulforaphane.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend increasing the intake of potassium while adding less sodium to food. This relaxes the blood vessels and lowers the risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular problems.
Check out how to cook brocoli!