Broccoli is often overlooked as a superfood, but these little tree-shaped florets are packed with vitamins and nutrients. Broccoli can help regulate blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and manage diabetes. It also contains the phytochemical sulforaphane, which can help prevent cancer.
Most scientific studies have concentrated on the florets, but the leaves and stems have also been found to contain high levels of antioxidant phenols, so don’t throw them away.
Here are 14 positive ways in which broccoli can benefit your body.
1. Helps Prevent Cancer
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli contain sulforaphane, which helps to protect against cancer. Young broccoli sprouts have been found to contain a higher concentration of sulforaphane than mature vegetables.
The anticancer properties of broccoli and the risk of cancer have been widely studied, and results differ. Some studies didn’t find a positive result, while others found that those at risk of prostate cancer lowered their risk by eating larger amounts of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. It has also been discovered that women who ate more cruciferous vegetables have a lower risk of contracting colon and lung cancer.
2. Keeps the Heart Healthy
Broccoli contains folate, which can help keep the heart healthy. Broccoli also contains quercetin, a polyphenol that strengthens the cardiovascular functions.
3. Helps Reduce Inflammation
Broccoli florets have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, due to inhibiting nitric oxide, which has been shown to play a role in inflammation. Sulforaphane also helps to fight inflammation, and the vitamin K in broccoli also helps reduce inflammatory markers in the blood.
Research on young male smokers showed that consuming broccoli might reduce the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a marker for inflammation.
4. Regulates Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar
Low calcium levels can contribute to high blood pressure, but by including calcium-rich broccoli in your diet, you can help control your blood pressure. The chromium content in broccoli also regulates blood sugar by increasing the efficiency of the insulin, which in turn increases the tolerance to glucose.
5. Good for Digestion
Broccoli is full of fiber, which has positive benefits for your gut health and digestive functions.
6. Promotes Eye Health
When you age, your eyes become more prone to conditions like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Broccoli can help prevent these diseases due to it containing lutein and zeaxanthin, two essential compounds for healthy eyes.
Dietary antioxidants and anti-inflammatories play a significant role in protecting the eyes, and broccoli contains the antioxidant vitamin C. It also contains vitamin B2 (riboflavin), which is important to maintain normal vision.
7. Reduces Cholesterol
There is a new variety of broccoli being bred to contain two to three times more of the naturally occurring compound glucoraphanin. This broccoli variety reduces LDL cholesterol by around 6%, according to a study by the Institute of Food Research.
8. Helps to Fight Depression
According to research, the sulforaphane in broccoli has deterrent effects on inflammation-related depression symptoms, so it could be a valuable ally in the fight against one of the most common mental conditions in the world.
9. Healthy Bones
Broccoli contains both calcium and vitamin K, both of which are essential for strong bones. The calcium in vegetables like broccoli is easily absorbed, making it a great alternative to dairy-based calcium for vegans, vegetarians or those cutting dairy from their diet.
10. Prevents Skin Damage
Vitamin C is essential for the process of creating collagen, which keeps your skin firm and elastic. Broccoli is rich in vitamin C, and even applying broccoli sprout extract to your skin could help.
A study by scientists from Johns Hopkins showed that applying an extract of broccoli sprouts can protect skin against damaging UV radiation, and the extract could also reduce the skin redness caused by UV rays.
11. Weight Loss Aid
Broccoli is a great addition to a healthy diet, loaded as it is with vitamins, minerals and fiber. It’s also low in calories, with a half-cup of broccoli containing only 25 calories.
12. Can Prevent Anemia
There are many things that can cause anemia, which makes you feel tired and lethargic all the time. A lack of iron or other nutrients is a common cause, as the deficiency of nutrients can prevent the body from producing enough red blood cells, which causes anemia. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron properly, and eating broccoli (especially with iron-rich foods) could help prevent anemia.
13. Body Detox
Sulforaphane can help take care of the body’s defence mechanism against carcinogens. It induces enzymes that detoxify carcinogens and free radicals. Apparently three-day-old broccoli sprouts have the most effective detoxing capabilities.
14. Good for Pregnant Women
Calcium is even more important during pregnancy, where it’s needed to support the nervous and circulatory systems. Broccoli is rich in calcium, so is a healthy addition to the diet at this time.
Animal studies show that eating broccoli sprouts during pregnancy protects against brain injury in the newborn even after pregnancy complications such as placental insufficiency.