Broccoli Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
Broccoli is a vegetable of the cruciferous family which is rich nutritious compounds. Composed of 92% water, it provides very little energy but supply it with plenty of vitamins such as C, K, B2 (riboflavin), B9 (folate), A, B5, E; and minerals: copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and potassium. Some studies on its nutrition facts show it has amazing health benefits.
Some of Bioactive compounds of this vegetable have anticancer effects and anti- cardiovascular disease. But to get the maximum of broccoli nutrition values and its health benefits, it is best to eat it raw or lightly cooked.
Broccoli Nutrition Facts
Broccoli contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants from the carotenoid family. A serving (½ cup or 125 ml) supplies a great amount of lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds may help prevent certain cancers, including breast cancer and lung cancer. They also participate in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
But its antioxidant capacity decreases during storage. It may even decrease more than 50% after the maximum time storage. It is therefore better to eat it when it is freshly harvested.
Like most cruciferous vegetables, broccoli contains glucosinolates. These compounds have the ability to become active molecules (sulforaphane, indole–3–carbinol, 3,3′-Diindolylmethane) when the food which contains it is chopped, masticated or in contact with the bacterial flora of the small intestine. Several of these molecules help to limit the development of certain cancers, including breast cancer.
Studies have shown that storage and cooking resulted in a loss of glucosinolates, and excessive cooking decreased formation of sulforaphane. It would be preferable to consume this vegetable lightly cooked in a little water or stir-fried. If you can extract the juice, using juicer, that would be even better.
Excessive Cooking Decreases Broccoli Nutrition Values
While excessive is not good, moderate cooking would optimize the formation of bioactive compounds. In addition, raw broccoli consumption results in a more rapid absorption of sulforaphane and increased its absorption (bioavailability) by the body in comparison with the cooked broccoli. In short, it would be better to eat it raw right after harvest to beneficiate its nutritious facts.
Health Benefits of Broccoli
Several epidemiological studies have shown that a high consumption of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, decreased the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases. The presence of antioxidants in fruits and vegetables may play a role in that protection.
Broccoli and Cancer
A variety studies have shown that regular consumption of broccoli (as well as other vegetables from the cruciferous family such as cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) could prevent some cancers: cancers of the lung, ovarian, prostate, kidney, and others. Broccoli, consumed at least a few times a week, may be especially associated with a lower risk of colorectal, stomach, lung, prostate and even breast cancer in premenopausal women.
In fact, even in people already diagnosed with cancer this vegetable can be highly beneficial. A recent study found that regular consumption of broccoli can increase the chances of surviving a cancer of the bladder even in patients with advanced stages. Some studies indicate that cruciferous vegetables provide more protection against several types of cancer than fruits and other types of vegetables in general.
Broccoli and Cardiovascular Disease
A daily consumption of cruciferous would be associated with lower homocysteine levels in the blood, which would decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. In postmenopausal women, consumption of this nutritious vegetable is associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease even in women already diagnosed with the disease.
It has been shown that eating 5 or more servings of broccoli per week in women significantly reduced the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease compared to low intake (75 g cooked or 125 ml of raw week). When consumption of the vegetable is associated with regular exercise, the beneficial effects are even more important.
In addition, a reduction in mortality due to cardiovascular disease was observed in women with high intakes of kaempferol, a flavonoid found primarily in this cruciferous plant. Several epidemiological studies have observed a reduced risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease with a high kaempferol intake.
Broccoli and Eye Disease
Several studies indicate that regular intake of lutein and zeaxanthin is associated with a lower risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration: deterioration of the macula, the small central area of the retina of the eye that controls visual acuity. These two carotenoids are very abundant in broccoli. They would accumulate in the macula and retina of the eye, protecting them from oxidative stress that could cause damage.
1. Ambrosone CB, McCann SE, et al. Breast cancer risk in premenopausal women is inversely associated with consumption of broccoli, a source of isothiocyanates, but is not modified by GST genotype. J Nutr 2004 May;134(5):1134-8.
2. Yochum L, Kushi LH, et al. Dietary flavonoid intake and risk of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women. Am J Epidemiol 1999 May 15;149(10):943-9.
3. Sommerburg O, Keunen JE, et al. Fruits and vegetables that are sources for lutein and zeaxanthin: the macular pigment in human eyes. Br J Ophthalmol 1998 August;82(8):907-10.
4. Ribaya-Mercado JD, Blumberg JB. Lutein and zeaxanthin and their potential roles in disease prevention. J Am Coll Nutr 2004 December;23(6 Suppl):567S-87S.
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