The health benefits of broccoli are undeniable, but are you “stalk”-ing up on this great green veggie? Sure, some of broccoli’s cousins, like kale and cauliflower, get way more attention these days. Broccoli offers some of the same nutritional benefits, plus a few more that are uniquely its own. In case you needed convincing, here are seven reasons to eat more broccoli.
1. Broccoli Will Help You Look Younger
In addition to a number of vitamins and minerals that will help your body feel healthy, broccoli contains a number of potent antioxidant compounds to help you look younger. Antioxidants fight free radical damage that can lead to premature signs of aging, including fine lines and wrinkles.
The antioxidant compounds found in broccoli that can fight these free radicals include vitamins C and E, manganese, zinc, and carotenoids such as lutein and beta-carotene. Broccoli has one more antioxidant trick up its sleeve, however, and it is a big one. A substance found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables can stimulate the body’s natural production of Glutathione. Glutathione is known as the “Master Antioxidant;” not only does it protect every cell, tissue, and organ in the body, Glutathione is also able to “recycle” other antioxidants.
Eating a diet full of antioxidant-rich foods like broccoli can ensure you have plenty of antioxidants ready to fight and defend against wrinkles and other signs of premature aging.
2. Broccoli Can Help You Detox
When your body encounters chemicals, including pesticides on produce, formaldehyde in your shampoo (scary but true!), alcohol, or even over-the-counter medicines, your natural detox system kicks in. Your liver uses a 2-phase detoxification process to transform fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble toxins, and then neutralize them.
Broccoli uniquely possesses compounds that can positively alter both phases of the detoxification process. The specific combination and concentration of glucosinolates found in broccoli are used to make Isothiocyanates (ITCs) that promote and regulate the detox activity in our cells. The antioxidant Glutathione that is produced by our bodies when we eat broccoli also plays a role in Phase 2 detoxification that neutralizes toxins. The ITCs and Glutathione that support Phase 2 detoxification are important, because Phase 2 is where toxin neutralization occurs.
3. Broccoli Can Help Your Skin Look Better
A single cup of cooked broccoli will provide 135% RDV of vitamin C. Vitamin C supports healthy, beautiful skin in two ways. First, as an antioxidant, vitamin C can help fight wrinkles and other signs of aging. Secondly, vitamin C is needed for collagen production in the body. Collagen gives skin its strength and elasticity. As we age, collagen levels drop and so does our skin – giving it a saggy, droopy appearance. Eating plenty of foods that are rich in vitamin C can help keep collagen levels high so your skin can stay strong and supple.
4. Broccoli Can Help Keep Bones Strong
Broccoli is a natural, plant-based source of calcium, but that’s not the only mineral that supports healthy strong bones. Broccoli also contains several nutrients that play a role in bone health, such as vitamin K, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, and folate. A one cup serving of cooked broccoli will provide 245% RDV of vitamin K, and observational evidence suggests that diets rich in Vitamin K are associated with reduced risk of hip fractures, while a deficiency of this vitamin has been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis.
5. Broccoli Can Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes
Broccoli is a good source of Chromium, a mineral that is needed for normal insulin function. Chromium deficiency has been linked to impaired glucose (sugar) tolerance and an increased need for insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
6. Broccoli Can Help You Lose Weight
Broccoli is a low-calorie, low-fat food that is a great source of insoluble fiber. Foods that are high in fiber can help you feel fuller longer, reduce hunger, and increase satiety. The insoluble fiber found in broccoli promotes digestive health, and can help keep you regular while preventing bloating and constipation. Eating a plant-based diet is best for weight loss.
7. Broccoli Is Good For Your Heart
The many nutrients in broccoli can have a positive impact on your heart health. Broccoli is a good source of folate, and diets rich in folate have been associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. The vitamin C found in broccoli has been linked to a lower risk of stroke and heart disease, and vitamin K has also been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Adding some broccoli to your meal is a heart healthy move.
Broccoli tastes great! If you haven’t been enjoying the many health benefits of broccoli, it may be that you aren’t cooking broccoli the right way to really enjoy it. While boiling or steaming broccoli may help it to best retain its antioxidant compounds, vitamins, and minerals, dry cooking methods can really help bring out the best flavors. If you aren’t a fan of broccoli yet, step away from the steamer and try roasting your broccoli instead. Cut a broccoli stalk in half and toss it in olive oil. Place it on a sheet pan and roast it in a 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Season with sea salt and cracked pepper and enjoy. Another dry heat cooking method involves grilling your broccoli. Whether you like your broccoli raw, steamed, boiled, grilled, or roasted, be sure to get plenty of this cruciferous vegetable onto your table.