Broccoli health benefits and therapeutic value

Broccoli, or Brassica oleracea, is a cabbage variety native to Southern Italy. It spread through Europe thanks to Catherine de Medicis.

This low-calorie vegetable boasts many health benefits.

Health benefits of broccoli

  • Since it contains 92% water, broccoli is very low on energy but it is loaded with minerals. It is of course recommended for weight-loss diets.
  • Broccoli ranks pretty high up on the “anti-cancer foods“ list thanks to the fiber and antioxidants that are embedded in it. It seems to protect particularly well against cancers of the lower thorax (colon, uterus, bladder, stomach, prostate), but only if eaten raw or steamed.
  • Since it hoards a lot of provitamin A, broccoli has antioxidant properties that contain harm done by free radicals, which tend to make our cells age faster.
  • Eating broccoli regularly is connected to preventing degenerative and cardiovascular diseases, partly because it fluidifies blood flow (vitamin K).
  • In traditional Chinese medicine, it is considered a neutral food, which means eating it doesn’t induce imbalance in the body.

Broccoli nutritional content

25 kcal / 3.5 oz (100 g). Broccoli is rich in vitamins C, B9, E, K, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, potassium, fiber and beta-carotene.

Growing broccoli for its health benefits

Broccoli is the easiest type of cabbage to grow and it requires very little care during the entire growth phase. For optimal development, broccoli needs rich, cool and well drained soil. It must be set in sun or part sun. Be careful however, stagnant winter moisture is bad for it.

When planted in rich soil mix with regular watering, broccoli can even grow in 12 inch (30 cm) tall pots. Note that it won’t grow well near other cabbage varieties: they don’t help each other out!

Cooking broccoli

Preserving the health benefits of broccoli in cookingBroccoli is first blanched in boiling water, simply plunking the smaller bunches without the large base, and then can be boiled, steamed, sauteed, fried or baked. They are also delicious raw, or with a good spicy sauce. Also try broccoli cream soup: with a dollop of sour cream, it is simply supreme!

Note that broccoli is easily digested, which isn’t the case for most other members of the cabbage family.

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