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      The goodness of broccoli: Nutrition facts and health benefits
      08/18/2020 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
      The goodness of broccoli: Nutrition facts and health benefits

      Broccoli is a popular cruciferous vegetable known for its distinct tree-like appearance. Many of its varieties are endemic to Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean region, such as the Calabrese broccoli and the Romanesco broccoli.

      Currently, broccoli is widely consumed worldwide, and for good reason: it is an excellent source of immune-boosting antioxidants and nutrients that aid various body functions.

      Here are nine major health benefits of this beloved cruciferous vegetable:

      Contains vitamins and minerals

      Broccoli is a nutrient-dense and low-calorie vegetable. A cup of broccoli florets contains the following:

      • Calories: 34 kcal
      • Carbohydrates: 6.64 g
      • Protein: 2.82 g
      • Fat: 0.37 g
      • Sugar: 1.7 g
      • Calcium: 47 mg
      • Iron: 0.73 mg
      • Magnesium: 21 mg
      • Phosphorus: 66 mg
      • Potassium: 316 mg
      • Vitamin C: 89.2 mg
      • Vitamin E: 0.78 mg

      Broccoli also contains traces of vitamins C, A and K, along with dietary fiber, zinc, manganese and niacin. Due to its vast array of vitamins and minerals, regular broccoli consumption can address nutrient deficiencies that cause chronic diseases including scurvy and anemia.

      Boosts the immune system

      Broccoli also contains high amounts of antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E, that strengthen the immune system in various ways. For instance, vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells that prevent bacterial and viral infections. Meanwhile, vitamin A maintains eye health and prevents vision loss due to macular degeneration. Vitamin E, on the other hand, protects bones, tendons, ligaments, hair and skin from cellular damage caused by free radicals.

      Relieves inflammation

      Broccoli also has potent anti-inflammatory effects against join pain caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

      Regulates blood sugar levels

      Broccoli is also known to regulate blood sugar levels due to the presence of certain plant compounds. For instance, sulforaphane, a sulfur-rich compound found in several cruciferous vegetables, can inhibit the production of glucose and improve insulin sensitivity.

      Moreover, dietary fiber can also inhibit the absorption of excess glucose in the gut. Instead, dietary fiber increases energy levels by stimulating the conversion of glucose into energy.

      Aids digestion

      Broccoli contains high levels of dietary fiber that promotes digestion and regulates bowel movement. As a result, dietary fiber prevents stomach aches, indigestion, constipation and diarrhea.

      Supports heart health

      Dietary fiber also plays an important role in heart health. It inhibits the absorption of cholesterol in the gut, thereby reducing the risk of cholesterol buildup, congestive heart failure and stroke.

      Combats aging

      Sulforaphane, the main bioactive compound in broccoli, triggers the body’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory responses to prevent premature aging. Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E also significantly affect the process of aging by stimulating the production of collagen, a protein that boosts the structural integrity of bones, tendons, ligaments and skin.

      Reduces the risk of cancer

      Many cruciferous vegetables contain sulfur-rich compounds that act as anti-carcinogens. For instance, sulforaphane has been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors and induce programmed cell death of malignant cells.

      Eliminates pathogens

      Sulforaphane is also known to have antimicrobial effects against disease-causing pathogens, such as the Helicobacter pylori bacterium that causes gastritis and stomach cancer. Clinical trials have also shown that sulforaphane can inhibit the growth of human papillomavirus (HPV).

      Broccoli is best enjoyed raw or steamed. While it can also be stir-fried or boiled, experts warn against cooking broccoli to preserve its nutrients and antioxidants as much as possible.

      To enjoy the health benefits of this popular cruciferous vegetable, add a couple of raw sprouts or lightly steamed florets to your salad. You can also prepare florets as a nutritious side dish to complement a rich stew or casserole.

      Sources:

      OrganicFacts.net

      ScienceDaily.com

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