This super vegetable is a member of the cabbage family, and is closely related to cauliflower.
It's cultivation originated in Italy.
Broccolo, it's Italian name, means "cabbage sprout."
Because of its different components, this super veggie provides a range of tastes and textures, from soft and flowery (the floret) to fibrous and crunchy (the stem and stalk).
Protection against Cancer
Like other cruciferous vegetables, this one contains phytonutrients which have significant anti-cancer effects.
Crucifers Cut Risk of Bladder Cancer
Human population as well as animal studies consistently show that diets high in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, cabbage and cauliflower, are associated with lower incidence of certain cancers, including lung, colon, breast and ovarian cancer.
Now, research suggests that bladder cancer can join the list.
Crucifers' protective benefits were even more pronounced in three groups typically at higher risk for bladder cancer: men, smokers, and older individuals (aged at least 64).
Kaempferol-rich Broccoli Protective against Ovarian Cancer
Women whose diets provided the most kaempferol, a flavonoid concentrated in non-herbal tea (like green tea), broccoli and onions, were found to have a 40% lower risk of ovarian cancer, compared to women with the lowest kaempferol intake.
This Super Vegetable Teams Up with Tomatoes to More Effectively Fight Prostate Cancer
Broccoli and tomatoes, two vegetables separately recognized for their cancer-fighting capabilities, are even more successful against prostate cancer when working as a team in your daily diet.
To get the prostate health benefits seen in this study, a 55-year-old man would need to consume 1.4 cups of raw broccoli and 2.5 cups of fresh tomato, 1 cup of tomato sauce or 1/2 cup of tomato paste daily.
Help for Sun-Damaged Skin
Recent research has demonstrated that some sun exposure is essential for good health since it's needed for our production of vitamin-D, yet too much may be of concern as skin cancer rates continue to rise due to depletion of the ozone layer.
Broccoli sprouts' ability to repair damage done to sun-exposed skin may offer us a way to receive the benefits of sunlight we need without increasing our risk for skin cancer.
A Cardio-Protective Vegetable
This green super veggie has been singled out as one of the small number of vegetables and fruits that contributed to the significant reduction in heart disease risk seen in a recent meta-analysis of seven prospective studies.
Of the more than 100,000 individuals who participated in these studies, those who diets most frequently included this green super food, tea, onions, and apples, the richest sources of flavonoids, gained a 20% reduction in their risk of heart disease.
This super veggie and other leafy green vegetables contain powerful phytonutrient antioxidants in the carotenoid family called lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are concentrated in large quantities in the lens of the eye.
When 36,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study were monitored, those who ate this veggie more than twice a week had a 23% lower risk of cataracts compared to men who consumed this antioxidant-rich vegetable less than once a month.
In addition to the antioxidant potential of this vegetables carotenoids, recent research has suggested that sulforaphane may also have antioxidant potential, being able to protect human eye cells from free radical stressors.
Stronger Bones with This Super Vegetable
When it comes to building strong bones, this veggie's got it all for less.
One cup of cooked broccoli contains 74 mg. of calcium, plus 123 mg. of vitamin-C, which significantly improves calcium's absorption; all this for a total of only 44 calories.
To put this in perspective, an orange contains no calcium, 69 mg of vitamin-C, and about 50% more-calories.
Dairy products, long touted as the most reliable source of calcium, contain no vitamin-C, but do contain saturated fat.
A glass of 2% milk contains 121 calories, and 42 of those calories come from fat.
An Immune System Booster
Not only does a cup of this super veggie contain the RDA for vitamin-C, it also fortifies your immune system with a hefty 1359 mcg. of beta-carotene, and small but useful amounts of zinc and selenium, two trace minerals that act as co-factors in numerous immune defensive actions.
A Birth Defect Fighter
Especially if you're pregnant, be sure to eat this super vegetable!
Just one cup supplies 94 mcg. of folic acid, a B-vitamin essential for proper cellular division because it is necessary in DNA synthesis.
Without folic acid, the fetus' nervous system cells do not divide properly.
Deficiency of folic acid during pregnancy has been linked to several birth defects, including neural tube defects like spina bifida.
How to Select and Store
Choose floret clusters that are compact and not bruised.
They should be uniformly colored, either dark green, sage or purple-green, depending upon variety, and with no yellowing.
In addition, they should not have any yellow flowers blossoming through, as this is a sign of over maturity.
The stalk and stems should be firm with no slimy spots appearing anywhere.
If leaves are attached, they should be vibrant in color and not wilted.
This super veggie is very perishable and should be stored in open plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper where it'll keep for about a week.
Since water on the surface will encourage its degradation, do not wash before refrigerating.
If blanched and then frozen, it can keep up to a year.
Cooked leftovers should be placed in tightly covered container and stored in the refrigerator where it will keep for a few days.
Tips for Preparation:
Either cooked or raw, it makes an excellent addition to your meal plan.
Some of the health-supporting compounds in this super vegetable can be increased by slicing or chewing, since both slicing and chewing can help activate the enzymes within.
Heating (for example, steaming) is fine, since bacteria in the intestine also have enzymes that can cause production of health-supportive compounds.
When cooking, however, the stems and florets should be prepared differently.
Since the fibrous stems take longer to cook, they can be prepared separately for a few minutes before adding the florets.
For quicker cooking, make lengthwise slits in the stems.
While people don't generally eat the leaves, they're perfectly edible and contain concentrated amounts of nutrients.
We've long recommended quickly steaming or healthy sautéing as the best ways to cook vegetables to retain their nutrients.
Several recent studies have confirmed this advice.
The way you cook can dramatically impact the amount of nutrients your vegetables deliver.
Microwaving broccoli results in a loss of 97%, 74% and 87% of its three major antioxidant compounds-flavonoids, sinapics and caffeoyl-quinic derivatives.
In comparison, steaming resulted in a loss of only 11%, 0% and 8%, respectively, of the same antioxidants.
If You're Going to Stir Fry, Use Extra Virgin Olive or Sunflower Oil
Broccoli is known to be a rich source of cancer-preventive glucosinolates, phenols, vitamin-C and minerals (potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, and copper).
Stir-frying methods that would best maintain this super veggie's rich array of nutrients were investigated by Spanish researchers.
When they stir-fried freshly harvested broccoli florets in various edible oils (extra virgin olive oil, refined olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, and safflower oil), they discovered that levels of vitamin-C and phenolic compounds were more affected than those of minerals and glucosinolates.
Only broccoli lightly stir-fried in extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil retained similar glucosinolate and vitamin-C levels as uncooked broccoli.
And, if you're wondering what to have for dinner this evening, might we suggest...
Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Shrimp & Broccoli
4 oz. rice flour noodles, broken into 3" pieces
1/2 c. low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tbs. water
1 Tbs. oyster sauce
2 tsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. chili paste
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 Tbs. canola oil, divided
1/2 lb sm. shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lg. egg, lightly beaten
3 c. Wok Seared Broccoli
1 c. frozen peas
1 oz. low sodium lean cooked ham, cut into 1/4" cubes (1/3 c)
Makes 4 Servings
1. Soak noodles in bowl of hot water 10 minutes.
Drain and set aside (yield: 1 3/4 c.).
2. Whisk broth, water, oyster sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, chili paste and cornstarch in small bowl and set aside.
3. Heat 1/2 Tbs. of the oil over high heat in large wok or wide skillet.
Add shrimp and garlic and stir fry 1 to 2 minutes until shrimp is just pink.
Turn onto plate.
4. Pour remaining 1 Tbs. oil into pan and swirl to coat.
Add noodles and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until softened.
Push to one side of pan and pour in egg.
Let set 30 seconds and then chop coarsely with spatula.
Stir in broccoli, peas, and ham and toss to combine.
Add shrimp back to pan, pour in broth mixture, and toss again to coat.
Cook 3 minutes longer or until heated through.
21 g. Protein,
37 g. Carbohydrates,
4 g. Fiber,
11 g. Fat,
1.5 g. Saturated Fat,
143 mg. Cholesterol,
517 mg. SodiumTweet
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