FOOD FACTS // Broccoli

Brassica oleracea L. var. Italica

The beloved broccoli is praised as one of the healthiest foods. You’re always told to “eat your broccoli”. The vegetable my brothers and I would call ‘trees’ and Mum always wanted us to eat the ‘trunk’, as well as the ‘leaves’. It is most definitely a wondrous food. But why? Well, let me tell you!

Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous family and is loaded with health benefits.

It is known for its anticancer (see here, here and here) and antioxidant activity. It speeds up the removal of estrogren (see here and here), which is a hormone that wrecks havoc on the body when its levels are too high and is a catalyst in cancer growth. It is additionally an antiviral and antiulcer, helping ward off nasty infections. It also helps regulate insulin and blood sugar, a godsend for diabetics.

In terms of nutrient constituents, it contacts high levels of vitamin C, calcium, chromium, coenzyme Q10 and important phytonutrients.

It is a non-starchy carbohydrate food, containing fibre and a fair amount of protein for a plant (2.82g per 100g).

If you’re iron deficient, broccoli is a great vegetable to have on the side of a steak, or other food with a high iron content as vitamin C assists in the assimilation of iron.

So if you’ve been bangin’ on about broccoli, you’re right. It’s damn awesome. Have a serve a day to brighten your life, potentially ward off cancer, and deliver your body with its daily dose of vitamin C!

Considering the storing and cooking methods of broccoli for nutrient absorption is definitely warranted if you want to receive the most benefits from your broc. The two most highly noted constituents of broccoli are vitamin C, glucosinolates and sulforaphane.

You can eat broccoli raw or slightly cooked (blanched for example), to preserve the vitamin C content and other important nutrients that may be lost in the process of cooking. I personally love adding to salads, they have an awesome crispness to them! Slightly blanching or short steaming to soften them up a little is a great way to have them on their own as well! Or, if you’re game, add them into your smoothies disguised by other delicious ingredients!

Boiling broccoli reduces the level of health benefits it exudes. It seems that any kind of submersion in water will affect the retention of vital nutrients. So when choosing your cooking method, opt for something drier to preserve nutrients (like steaming).

Storing broccoli is also important. Freezing it preserves the vitamin content, however it has been shown that blanching first and then freezing reduces the retention of important constituents. Interesting.

I would recommend using your broc within 7 days and to receive the most benefit from the vegetables, consuming it within the first 3 days. I try and buy a broccoli every 3 days to keep it fresh, nutrient-rich and crisp!

How do you take your broccoli? Is it one of your favourite vegetables, or is one that isn’t your friend?

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.41.36 am

Claire Hargreaves