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Talk to any youngster to title the veggie they wholeheartedly despise and you will find a superior prospect they are going to promptly say, “broccoli.” Just after all, the veggie has a a little bit bitter flavor and produces a pungent odor when cooked. In their eyes, the only matter broccoli has heading for it is its very small, tree-like form. But if you, as a total-fledged grownup, however feel that broccoli belongs in the trash — not on your plate — you could be lacking out on a host of critical nutrients and delightful foods.
Right here, all the have to have-to-know nourishment details about the environmentally friendly veggie, together with the broccoli health benefits and recipe ideas that’ll make any lifelong hater tumble in really like for the quite first time.
What Is Broccoli?
Native to the Mediterranean region, broccoli is a member of the Brassicaceae family alongside Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi, in accordance to Colorado State College. Calabrese broccoli — named following Cambria, Italy, the place it was 1st grown — is the most common assortment in the U.S., and it is really likely what will come to thoughts when you feel of the cruciferous veggie. This type of broccoli is marked by its massive head — produced up of small, edible floral shoots — vivid green coloration, and tree-like visual appeal, according to the University of Minnesota. And however the florets are traditionally served up for supper, broccoli’s stems and substantial leaves are also edible.
Broccoli Nutrition Info
Your mom and dad were not lying when they claimed broccoli was superior for you. The crunchy veggie has a assortment of vitamins that assistance your digestive, immune, coronary heart, and bone wellness. To top rated it off, “though greens are by natural means reduced in protein, broccoli is one particular of the optimum, supplying just about 3 grams of protein per cup serving,” says Mia Syn, M.S., R.D.N., a registered dietitian nutritionist in Charleston, South Carolina.
Prior to diving into the actual broccoli wellness positive aspects, this is the nutritional profile of 1 cup of chopped uncooked broccoli, in accordance to the United States Section of Agriculture:
- 31 energy
- 3 grams protein
- <1 gram fat
- 6 grams carbohydrate
- 2 grams fiber
- 2 grams sugar
Broccoli Health Benefits
Now that you know the basics of broccoli’s nutrition profile, let’s dive into the specific health benefits you can reap from adding the veg into your diet:
Helps Build and Repair Muscles
Compared to other veggies, Brussels sprouts pack the most protein per serving, but broccoli is a close runner-up. In a one-cup serving of broccoli, you’ll score nearly 3 grams of protein (roughly 7 percent of the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA) — a macronutrient that helps to build and repair muscle and tissue. And that’s not the only benefit this essential nutrient has to offer: Protein also ensures proper growth and development and assists in body processes such as blood clotting, fluid balance, and more, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration.
FTR, the protein in broccoli is considered incomplete, meaning it’s missing one or more of the nine essential amino acids, which can be obtained only from food and are needed to make new protein in the body. Still, eaters who steer clear of animal products (which tend to be sources of complete protein) can still nab all the necessary amino acids by eating a variety of protein-filled plant foods — such as fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes — daily.
Supports Healthy Digestion
Of all the broccoli nutrition facts, the veggie’s fiber content is likely the most well-known. A cup of chopped broccoli provides a little more than 2 grams of fiber (7 percent of the RDA), including both the soluble and insoluble types of fiber. ICYDK, fiber is the part of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb. In turn, the nutrient can help make your number twos go a bit more smoothly by helping to increase the weight and size of your poop and softening it, making it easier to pass and minimizing the chances of constipation. What’s more, high-fiber foods tend to be more filling, so noshing on a veggie such as broccoli could make you feel satisfied long after you’ve cleaned off your plate.
Helps Prevent Birth Defects
In a cup of broccoli, you’ll nab 57 micrograms of folate, amounting to 14 percent of the RDA for the nutrient. This B vitamin assists in DNA production and cell division, notes Syn. But this health benefit of broccoli is particularly important for pregnant individuals, as folate plays a key role in preventing neural tube defects — major birth defects in a baby’s brain or spine, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Even if you don’t plan on having a little one in the near future, you should still aim to hit that RDA of 400 micrograms daily if you’re capable of becoming pregnant. These defects develop in the first few weeks of pregnancy — often before someone finds out they’re expecting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thankfully, regular helpings of broccoli will help you get one step closer to hitting that recommendation.
Supports Blood Clotting and Bone Health
This may not be the most exciting health benefit of broccoli, but it’s worth mentioning. In a single cup, broccoli provides nearly 93 micrograms — or 103 percent of the RDA — of vitamin K, which helps your body make proteins necessary for blood clotting and the maintenance of healthy bones and tissue, according to the National Library of Medicine. Folks who are severely deficient in the nutrient can suffer bruising and bleeding problems, as blood will take longer to clot. They may also have reduced bone strength and an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, according to the NIH.
Supports the Immune System
Nosh on a helping of broccoli and you’ll score not one, but two nutrients that may help keep your immune system in tip-top shape. Broccoli is one of the richest sources of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that has been shown to increase the number of immune cells and their activity, according to information published by Kaiser Permanente. What’s more, a single cup of broccoli provides 81 milligrams (108 percent of the RDA) of vitamin C. Research shows this micronutrient helps stimulate the production and improve the function of white blood cells — including the specific cells that attack foreign bacteria and viruses — and increases levels of existing antibodies that help fight off foreign antigens. Translation: Getting your fill of the tree-like veggie on the reg could help fend off a nasty cold.
Improves Heart Health
Turns out, the health benefits of broccoli also extend to your ticker. The cruciferous veggie boasts 288 milligrams (11 percent of the RDA) of potassium, an essential mineral that helps keep blood pressure under control, explains Syn. Specifically, potassium offsets the effects of sodium (a nutrient that raises your blood pressure when consumed in excess) by reducing tension in your blood vessel walls and causing you to excrete more sodium through your urine. This process helps lower your blood pressure and, in turn, the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.
Potential Risks of Broccoli
Although most people can eat the green veg and feel completely fine, broccoli can cause bloating, gas, and digestive discomfort in others. In particular, if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you’ll want to limit your consumption of broccoli. Especially when you eat a lot of it, broccoli is a high-FODMAP food — meaning, in essence, that it contains specific fermentable carbohydrates that can be difficult or impossible for some people to digest.
The high fiber content of the veggie can also cause some GI upset. If you have IBS or an otherwise sensitive stomach, play it safe by consuming broccoli in small portions if at all.
How to Buy and Eat Broccoli
Convinced to give the veggie you once despised another shot? When shopping for broccoli, choose a stalk that has a compact cluster of small flower buds (read: the little green beads at the top of the head), suggests Syn. “Look for bright green or purplish green florets as opposed to yellow flowers and enlarged buds, which are signs of over-maturity,” she explains.
If the broccoli in your supermarket’s produce section is looking the worse for wear, feel free to grab a bag of florets from the frozen section, which is typically more affordable and lasts longer, notes Syn. “Research suggests that frozen and fresh produce have comparable nutrition. In some cases, frozen broccoli may be higher in certain nutrients than the fresh counterpart,” she notes. The reason? Ripe produce is often frozen within hours of being picked, helping to lock in nutrients.
If you picked up a fresh head of broccoli, store it unwashed in a loose or perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge for about three to five days. “Broccoli tastes the best and has the highest nutritional value when storage time is brief,” says Syn. When you’re ready to put the little green trees to good use, wash the veggie in water, she adds.
While there’s no wrong answer when it comes to cooking broccoli, some techniques do have a leg up on others. “Because broccoli contains many water-soluble nutrients, such as vitamin C, quick-cooking methods like steaming and even microwaving can help retain more nutrition, its vibrant green color, and tender-crisp texture,” explains Syn. And though it’s practically second nature, you don’t have to toss the stalks in the trash. “They are perfectly edible when prepared right [and] are particularly rich in fiber,” says Syn. “To use, remove any woody or tough skin using a peeler and cut into bite-size pieces,” she notes.
When you’re sick and tired of eating plain, steamed broccoli florets, it’s time to get creative with your consumption. To spice up your dinner plate — and nab those key broccoli health benefits — steal these innovative meal ideas.
As a “rice.” “Just like cauliflower, you can blend broccoli in a food processor and use it as a lower-calorie, nutrient-dense rice swap or in homemade pizza crust recipes,” suggests Syn.
In soups. One of Syn’s favorite ways to get her fill of broccoli is by blending it into a soup. Try DIY-ing a broccoli cheddar bowl à la Panera or concocting a cream of broccoli soup.
In a stir-fry. A stir-fry is another one of Syn’s go-to broccoli dishes. For a veg-heavy meal, toss broccoli, peppers, onions, and mushrooms into a piping-hot skillet or wok, then top the cooked veggies off with a savory stir-fry sauce. It’s filling enough to be a complete meal.
As a side dish. When you’re looking for a low-effort way to use up the broccoli in your fridge, consider transforming it into a side dish by roasting the veggie with chickpeas and radicchio or topping baked broccoli off with a cashew cream sauce.