Broccoli is one of those vegetables that I hated when mom put it on my plate when I was growing up but have learned to enjoy as an adult. Especially since I know it is “good for you” and I actually like the taste. Certainly better than spinach which really needs to be prepared just right before I’m interested in taking the risk.
But is it really “good for you” and why? I have identified six benefits of eating this interesting vegetable.
- Improves Bone Health – Broccoli is high in Vitamin K which is vital in building strong bones. Just one cup of broccoli provides 92 micrograms of Vitamin K, well over 100% of your daily requirements. Consuming Vitamin K improves absorption of Calcium which is also necessary for strong bones.
- Anti-Aging Properties – Broccoli is packed with Vitamins C, A, and E which fight skin damage caused by the sun, reduce wrinkles, and improve overall skin texture. Vitamin C plays a vital role in the formation of Collagen, the main support system of the skin. It also contains Glucoraphanin which the body converts to Sulforaphane which helps rebuild skin cells and stimulates a variety of antioxidant defense pathways in your body that can reduce oxidative stress and slow down the decline in your immune system. This slows down the aging process.
- Cancer Fighter – This same Sulforaphane can inhibit the enzyme Deacetylace which is known to be involved in the progression of cancer cells. It has been shown to kill cancer stem cells, striking at the root of tumor growth. Sulforaphane is especially effective in preventing melanoma, prostate, and pancreatic cancers. Broccoli also contains the Vitamin Folate which has been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer.
- Detoxification – Broccoli is a great source of fiber which promotes healthy digestion. This not only lowers the risk of colon cancer but aids in cleansing our bodies of all the toxins which we ingest. It also contains three important phytonutrients with really long names which support our body’s detoxification process.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties – Inflammation is a natural way our body heals. When you get a wound on your skin your body creates inflammation to that spot to enhance healing. But, due to the stresses of our lives as well as the toxins in our food, water and air our inflammation system works overtime and this has become the root cause of many chronic diseases. Broccoli aids in reducing inflammation due to the flavonoid Kaempferol. It also contains Omega-3 fat which helps control our inflammation system.
- Heart Health – Broccoli contains B-Complex vitamins which can make a major contribution to our cardiovascular health. It also reduces cholesterol levels. The fiber-related nutrients contained in Broccoli bind together with some of the bile acids in our intestines in such a way that they simply stay in the intestine and pass out of our body rather than getting absorbed into our blood stream. When this happens our liver draws upon our existing supply of cholesterol to accomplish its goal of replacing the lost bile acids and, as a result, reduces our cholesterol level. Broccoli also contains Lutein which may help prevent thickening of your arteries.
Bonus – Two carotenoids found in broccoli, lutein and zeaxanthin, play an important role in the health of the eye. In fact, no tissue in the body is more concentrated with lutein than the area in the outer portion of the retina. In a similar way, zeaxanthin is concentrated in the macula near the central portion of the retina. These substances reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
Bonus 2 – Many people are deficient in Vitamin D to the point that diet alone cannot supply their needs so they must take supplements. Broccoli does not have Vitamin D but it is high in Vitamins K and A. These two Vitamins keep our Vitamin D metabolism in proper balance so if you take in too much Vitamin D Broccoli will balance that out and control the overdose.
So stop pushing the little tree-like veggies off your plate and, instead, pile them on for good health. They are one of the best foods to keep us healthy.