Superfood – Broccoli
Your parents knew what was up when they told you to eat your broccoli. This verdant vegetable is a powerhouse of nutrients. It’s reputed to benefit digestion, the cardiovascular system and the immune system, and to have anti-inflammatory and even cancer-preventing properties. Plus, broccoli is low in sodium and calories, at about 31 calories per serving. It’s also a fat-free vegetable.
Health benefits of broccoli
Diabetes and Autism
For obese individuals with type 2 diabetes, broccoli extract may be what the doctor ordered. Scientists have found that a compound called sulforaphane in broccoli could turn down the activity, or expression, of 50 genes associated with symptoms related to type 2 diabetes.
The same compound was also found to improve symptoms related to autism; those who took the extract containing sulforaphane showed improvements in verbal communication and social interactions.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, and all vegetables in this group may be protective against some stomach and intestinal cancers.
Broccoli’s isothiocyanates, including sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol boost detoxifying enzymes and act as antioxidants, reducing oxidative stress. They also may affect estrogen levels, which may help reduce breast cancer risk.
Broccoli can help lower cholesterol because the soluble fiber in the vegetable binds with the cholesterol in the blood. This binding makes the cholesterol easier to excrete, and consequently lessens cholesterol levels in the body.
Phytocheimcals glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin and glucobrassicin compose a terrific trio in broccoli. Together, they aid all steps of the body’s detoxification process, from activation to neutralization and elimination of contaminants.
In addition to reducing cholesterol, broccoli can aid in heart health by helping to keep blood vessels strong. The sulforaphane in broccoli is also an anti-inflammatory and may be able to prevent or reverse damage to blood vessel linings caused by chronic blood sugar problems.
Broccoli is good for your eyes because it contains lutein and zeaxanthin, compound antioxidants that are really good for eye health. Both chemicals may help protect against macular degeneration, an incurable condition that blurs central vision, and cataracts.
Broccoli has nearly 1 gram of fiber per 10 calories. Fiber helps keep you regular and helps maintain healthy bacteria levels in the intestines.
Broccoli also aids in digestion by helping to keep your stomach lining healthy.
Broccoli is a great anti-inflammatory and may slow down the damage to joints associated with osteoarthritis. Broccoli’s sulforaphane may help people suffering from arthritis because this chemical blocks the enzymes that cause joint destruction by stopping a key molecule known to cause inflammation.
Raw, steamed or boiled: Which is more nutritious?
The way that you prepare broccoli can affect the amount of nutrients you get, and which ones. People looking to broccoli for its anticancer benefits will want to be sure not to cook the vegetable too long.
Boiling led to the biggest losses of cancer-fighting nutrients. Steaming for up to 20 minutes, microwaving for up to three minutes and stir-frying for up to five minutes produced no significant loss of cancer-preventive substances. Raw broccoli maintains all of its nutrients, but it is also more likely to irritate your bowels and cause gas.