Is Broccoli Commonly Available?
Broccoli is classified as a cruciferous vegetable that belongs to the brassica genus whose typical features are as flowers that possess a thick, central stalk with grayish-green leaves or florets. It's not uncommon to find a purple variety as well in this genus. Broccoli is considered one of the most nutritious vegetables and is found in abundance, especially from October to April. Frozen broccoli is also a good option when it is in limited stock. Broccoli can be enjoyed as a delicious veggie when added to any meal or as a snack or a side dish. It can be used to prepare casseroles and soups and be stir-fried or even eaten raw with cheesy dips. Consuming raw or cooked broccoli supplies many nutrients, although frying would reduce the amounts of flavonoids in them.
What Are the Nutritional Values of Broccoli?
According to the USDA (The United States Department of Agriculture), one cup or approximately 90 g of raw or chopped Brocolli can provide:
Total Calories: 31 cal.
Protein: 2.5 g.
Carbohydrates: 6 g.
Vitamin C: 81.2 mg.
Fat: 0.3 g.
Fiber: 2.4 g.
Sugars: 1.5 g.
Sodium: 30 mg.
Broccoli, hence, is a very low-calorie classified food, primarily high in carbohydrates and protein, with very little amounts of fat. It is also high in nutrients essential for systemic health, like vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, vitamin A, etc.
What Are the Major Health Benefits of Broccoli Consumption?
Broccoli is associated with several health benefits enlisted below:
1. Low Glycemic Index (GI)
The glycemic index of Broccoli is 10, which means that its consumption has little to minimal impact on our blood sugar levels. Also, research shows that broccoli sprouts are useful in improving insulin resistance in patients suffering from type 2 diabetes.
Numerous clinical studies have shown a higher cardioprotective functionality of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, and may help potentially reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, etc.
3. Anti-inflammatory Effect
Broccoli contains small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is also cardioprotective. Consuming at least two cups of broccoli, as advised by dieticians, can deliver up to nearly 0.5 grams of this anti-inflammatory ALA acid to the body.
4. Promotes Bone Health and Wound Healing
Broccoli is composed of various vitamins and minerals and is an excellent source of immuno-protective ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Apart from enhancing immunity and periodontal protection, it is also an excellent source of vitamin K, which is pivotal for bone health and promotes faster wound healing.
5. Weight Management and Fiber Content
As one cup of broccoli provides approximately 31 calories, it can still be added as a low-calorie ingredient alongside cheat meals by individuals looking to lose weight. Its high fiber content can help maintain a healthy weight in most individuals because fiber is an indigestible part of carbohydrates that can aid in multiple health benefits. Reducing cholesterol, healthy bowel movements, regulating blood sugar without causing sharp spikes, and preventing binge eating because of the high fiber content provide fullness as added advantages.
6. Cancer Prevention
Recent studies indicate that a higher intake of cruciferous and green leafy vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, etc., can reduce the long-term risk of developing certain cancers in individuals with predisposing risk factors and lifestyle choices. A decreased risk of prostate, breast, oral, and colon cancers has been demonstrated in a few studies with the intake of cruciferous veggies because of the fiber content and the anticancer phytochemical compounds called isothiocyanates.
What Are the Side Effects of Brocolli Consumption?
Broccoli, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables usually contain certain proteins that resemble mugwort pollen. Though reactions are rare, in people with pollen allergies, an allergic reaction may be expected that is characterized by either a tingling sensation on the lips or tongue. Very rarely, such allergic reactions in these sensitized individuals can further progress to swollen throat and r anaphylaxis.
Because of the high vitamin K levels, broccoli is not advocated for patients on anticoagulant or warfarin therapies. The increased amount of vitamin K consumption may potentially interfere with the safety of Coumarin (Warfarin) and cause a reduction of systemic effects in these individuals on anticoagulant drug therapies. As these individuals need to maintain a consistent intake of Vitamin K, a registered dietitian or nutritionist can be consulted before adding cruciferous vegetable intake to the diet.
How to Choose and Store Broccoli?
For selecting good broccoli from the yield, one should always look for tight or deep green florets and an able and firm stalk. Broccoli that is either soft or pale colored with a bendable stalk should be avoided. Also, avoid Brocolli, which has yellowish florets. Broccoli, after purchase, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two to three days with adequate ventilation in the refrigerator. The vegetable must be kept in a dry form, unexposed to the outer atmosphere, until it is ready to be cooked.
Brocolli, hence, is a very beneficial and nutritious carbohydrate-based vegetable that is low on calories and glycemic index and possesses cardioprotective and immune benefits. Patients under anticoagulant therapies like blood thinning agents and people with mugwort pollen allergies should ideally avoid broccoli. Broccoli can be consumed as a part of a low-carb meal by either blanching, boiling, or using it as an additional side dish.