Ah broccoli, that once-hated vegetable of our childhoods that is now at the forefront of better health. When I was a kid, broccoli would be buried under mashed potatoes in a feeble attempt to hide it, fed to my dog when no one was looking, or when I got really advanced, stuffed into our hollow table legs. The smell eventually got me busted. When you start to see all the great benefits of broccoli, you’ll now look to it as a go-to meal choice. I do, even though it would have 8-year-old me shaking his head in disgust. Here are 16 great benefits of the veggie Newman from Seinfeld called a “vile weed” before drowning it in honey mustard sauce.
1. It Helps To Combat Arthritis
There is a compound in broccoli called sulphoraphane that is a sulfer-rich compound. It blocks a key destructive enzyme that damages cartilage. Keeping broccoli a part of your diet may help to slow down and even prevent osteoarthritis. This sulphoraphane actually is crucial in some other areas.
2. It May Help Blood Pressure & Kidney Health
The sulphoraphane in the broccoli may significantly help to improve your blood pressure and kidney function also. A study in rats showed that people who suffered from hypertension showed improved kidney function and lowered blood pressure when given sulphoraphane .
3. It Can Help Fight Cancer
We’re looking again at sulphoraphane which is attributed to cruciferous vegetables and the combined ability to help fight cancer. The bitter taste that comes from the sulfer-containing compound is what aids in it’s ability in fighting cancer. Sulphoraphane can inhibit the enzyme that has known to be involved in the progression of cancer cells. Along with that, compounds in broccoli called isothyiocyanates appear to target and block mutant genes associated with cancer growth.
4. It Contains High Amounts Of Folate
Adequate intake of folate has shown promise in protecting against stomach, colon, pancreatic and cervical cancer. Folate has been seen to help reduce the risk of breast cancer in woman.
5. It Helps Reduce Cholesterol
Like other vegetables and fruits, broccoli contains soluble fiber that helps draw cholesterol out of your body
6. It’s A Powerful Antioxidant
Vitamin C is just one of many antioxidants, and broccoli contains it in abundance, more than any other cruciferous vegetable. It also contains other powerful antioxidants such as lutein and beta-carotene.
7. It Aids In Bone Health
This is due to broccoli’s high content of both calcium and vitamin K. Both of these are key in bone health as well as preventing osteoporosis.
8. It Is Effective At Reducing Allergic Reaction & Inflammation
Broccoli is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are like nature’s anti-inflammatory. Broccoli also contains a compound called kaempferol which helps lessen the impact of allergy related substances on the body.
9. It Can Help Fight Cardiovascular Disease
We’re back to the funny sounding word again: kaempferol which has been shown in studies to give us a reduced risk of developing not only cardiovascular disease but cancer as well.
10. It Helps In Overall Heart Health
Not only is that sulforaphane in broccoli an anti-infammatory itself but it may be able to prevent (or reverse) some of the damage to blood vessel linings that can be caused by inflammation due to chronic blood sugar problems.
11. It Helps Ease The Damage Done By Diabetes
This goes hand in hand with the above point, as studies looked at the damage that can be caused by diabetes regarding the heart. It was pointed out that it wasn’t saying that eating broccoli would counteract diabetes but that the sulforaphane encourages the production on enzymes that protect blood vessels and cause a reduction in the number of molecules that can damage cells.
12. It Protects Against Myocardial Oxidative Damage & Cell Death
When there is lack of oxygen to the heart for a period of time this is known as ischemia. When the blood supply returns the circulation can cause inflammtion and oxidative damage because there was an absence of oxygen and nutrients. This is called reperfusion, and guess what small, tree like vegetable has been shown to protect against this damage? Broccoli.
13. It’s High In Fiber
Broccoli contains a great amount of soluble fiber for the cholesterol issue listed above but soluble fiber also helps aid in digestion, prevent constipation, and helps maintain a blood sugar balance.
14. It Contains Protein
Clearly it’s not as much protein as beef, chicken or fish, but broccoli contains as much protein as a cup of rice or corn. The difference between those starchy carbs and broccoli is that broccoli has half the amount of calories.
15. It Aids In Weight Loss
Speaking of calories, broccoli makes a good choice in weight loss for a few reasons. The main reason has to do with the soluble fiber content which helps curb overeating. Along with that, broccoli promotes satiety which is the ability to feel fuller for longer. There are three things in a food which helps with feeling full and they are protein, water and fiber, three things abundant in broccoli.
16. It Alkalizes Your Body
Like other vegetables broccoli keeps your body from becoming too acidic. When the pH of your body is out of balance it can lead to issues such as mineral deprivation, hypertension, strokes, and a weakened immune system just to name a few.
Wrapping It Up
You always knew broccoli was good for you, now you REALLY know why it is. It’s time to call your mom up and let her know she was right and you were wrong and you’re sorry. There’s no time like the present to start including this little beauty in as many meals as you can. Broccoli works amazing in stir fries, chopped up into salads, and even steamed with some fresh melted cheddar on top. Broccoli is easy to prepare, cheap, and clearly nutritious.
And you can also let your mom know how wrong you were for thinking those acid wash jeans were cool…
Featured photo credit: Carolyn Coles via flickr.com