Nutritional Information for Broccoli
Broccoli is a powerhouse, cancer-fighting vegetable. It is part of the commonly touted “cruciferous” vegetable family, which is basically a fancy name for saying “cross-like” vegetable (“crucifer” as in crucifix or cross). Kinda cool. Go ahead, pick up the vegetable and see for yourself the cross-like structures. Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, and kale are other veggies in this kingdom. Broccoli contains special types of antioxidants and compounds known to boost DNA repair systems and limit free radical damage. Glucosinolates are types of compounds found in cruciferous vegetables and when eaten release cancer-protective structures called isothiocyanates (sulphoraphane) and indoles. Although their names are not so important, eating broccoli is.
Benefits of Broccoli
Cancer Prevention Benefits
Men eating more than one serving (just ½ a cup) of broccoli and cauliflower per week have been found to lower their risk of developing aggressive types of prostate cancer. When grouping cruciferous veggies together, some studies have shown men eating the most cruciferous vegetables (> 72 grams, which is just under 1 cup per day) had 39% less odds of getting prostate cancer.
For men with prostate cancer, eating more cruciferous veggies may help prevent it from spreading further. How? The phytonutrients in broccoli seem to boost the detoxifying enzymes in the liver so it’s likely broccoli-eaters have boosted immunity. When given as part of a whole-food supplement to men with prostate cancer, their levels of PSA did not increase as much as those on a placebo. Those eating broccoli have also been found to be more resistant to DNA damage. Even smokers appear to have better odds at reducing their chances of lung cancer by eating tons of broccoli. Of course, quitting smoking while also eating broccoli is the best option.
Men's Health Benefits
The sulphoraphane in broccoli has been found to reduce oxidative stress for people with diabetes.
Tips to Utilize the Antioxidant Compounds:
Fresh broccoli has more antioxidants than cooked, but not everyone likes it raw. The sulforaphane compound in broccoli may be the main reason why it’s so powerful against cancer. However, the enzyme myrosinase, needed to make sulforaphane, is destroyed when cooked. A cool trick to maintain sulforaphane activity is to chop broccoli and let it sit for 40 minutes before cooking. This acts as if we’ve chewed the broccoli, releasing the enzymes to produce sulforaphane. It’s like getting all of the benefits of raw broccoli without actually eating it.
Note: if you don’t have time to wait or use frozen broccoli, add a pinch of mustard powder (or mustard greens) after it’s cooked, as this can unlock the sulforaphane as well.
Ways to Use Broccoli
- Roast or Grill.
- Sautee with other vegetables.
- Enjoy raw with dips like hummus or baba ganoush.
- Chop small and add to salads or pita pockets.
- For children, you could help them use their imagination to think about broccoli as little trees.
Resources for Broccoli
American Institute for Cancer Research: www.aicr.org
“Foods that Fight Cancer” from AICR: Broccoli
Nutrition Facts: www.NutritionFacts.org
Physicians Committee: www.pcrm.org
USDA Nutrient Database: Broccoli
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