Vegetables are an essential component to contributing to a person’s health in a positive manner. Vegetables increase the chances for a person to live more healthy, active, and less prone to certain diseases and cancers(Murray et al. 133). They act as anti-oxidants and prevent dangerous substances in a person’s body from spreading. One of the best and most incredible vegetables, hailed as the “Crown Jewel of Nutrition”( Mitchell et al. 113), is Broccoli. Broccoli is one of the superlative vegetables a person can consume and it is essential for a healthy and happy lifestyle.
What is broccoli? Broccoli is a name derived from the Latin word branchium meaning “branch,” is a cruciferous vegetable that belongs to the cabbage family and is considered to be a close relative to cauliflower. It originated, as written in as written in The Encyclopedia of Healing Food, from a wild cabbage native to Europe and has been known in Europe for 2,000 years(Murray et al. 154). Broccoli was later introduced to the United States during colonial times but did not become popular until the 1920s(155).
In the book The Complete Book of Nutritional Healing, it is said that today, ninety percent of the broccoli consumed in the United States is grown in California(Mitchell et al. 112). Broccoli is characterized by a treelike shape featuring a compact head of florets attached by small stems to a larger stalk(Murray et al. 155). Depending on the variety, its color can range from deep sage to dark green to purplish-green(156). It provides a combination of different tastes and textures, varying from the soft florets to the crunchy stem and stalk(156).
Italian green broccoli, or Calabrese, is the most popular kind of broccoli sold in the United States(157). Nutrient content of broccoli Containing a vast array of nutritious qualities, broccoli has commonly been referred to as the “Crown Jewel of Nutrition”( Mitchell et al. 113). Although it is low in calories, broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense foods(Murray et al. 159) The edible portion of broccoli consists of about 87. 5% water, 6. 5% carbohydrate, 4. 5% protein, 1. 5% fiber, and 0. % fat(Chooi 54).
The key nutrients in broccoli include calcium, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin A, vitamin E, and folate(Balch 45). The phytochemicals in broccoli include beta-carotene, chlorophyll, glucosinolates, indoles, and sulforophane(45). Containing more vitamin C than an orange, broccoli is evidently an excellent source of vitamin C.
It also contains more calcium than most dairy products and thus can be used as an efficient substitute for milk in lactose intolerant people( Mitchell et al. 114). Furthermore, broccoli is an exceptional source of vitamins K and A as well as folic acid and fiber. Compared to its close relative, cauliflower, broccoli contains more calcium, carotene, and vitamin C. Health benefits of broccoli There are a variety of health benefits associated with the consumption of broccoli.
Broccoli is often termed as a miracle food as its’ health benefits are seemingly endless( Mitchell et al. 114). The healthy balance of soluble and insoluble fiber in broccoli enhances the gastrointestinal tract and helps reduce blood cholesterol levels(116). It also provides protection against constipation and diarrhea and plays a role in preventing colon cancer, diverticulosis, and other intestinal ailments. ? As reported by the Doctors Health Press, a recent study found that broccoli was 95% lethal against colon cancer cells(Marchione).
In conjunction with broccoli’s dietary fibers are its glucosinolates, which are phytonutrients that are converted by the body into isothiocyanates (ITCs). ITCs, mainly sulforaphane, aid in protecting the stomach lining by helping prevent bacterial overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori and preventing excessive clinging by this bacterium to the stomach wall, hence preventing stomach ulcers and stomach cancer(Ambrosone 298). One of the most noteworthy contributions broccoli can make to one’s health is as an anti-cancer agent.
The naturally occurring component of broccoli, indole-3-carbinol, has been acknowledged as a promising anti-cancer agent against particular reproductive tumor cells, as well as prostate, colorectal, and lung cancer. Indole-3-carbinol works against destructive hormones and promotes “good” hormones(“The Health Benefits Of Broccoli Make It A Meal Time Winner”). In addition, sulforaphane, a dietary component of broccoli, helps to amplify the level of enzymes that block cancer(“Health Benefits Of Broccoli”). Sulforaphane also plays a role in preventing breast cancer.
In a clinical study conducted by the American Association for Cancer Research, the researchers found that Sulforaphane inhibited breast cancer stem cells in vivo and in vitro thus providing a strong foundation for the potential use of sulforaphane or broccoli extract for future breast cancer chemoprevention(Korkaya 2583). The chemotherapy and radiation therapy presently available are not capable in suppressing cancer stem population, however, sulforaphane in broccoli proved to inhibit breast cancer stem cells in the study(2583).
Among all of the other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli is distinct by being the most concentrated source of a prominent antioxidant nutrient–vitamin C. By possessing high amounts of vitamin C, broccoli aids iron absorption in the body, prevents the formation of cataracts, and also alleviates the symptoms of the common cold(“Health Benefits Of Broccoli”). In addition, the beta-carotene in broccoli transforms into vitamin A within the body, thus providing an effective antioxidant that obliterates free radicals which are responsible for weakening the defense of cells.
Collectively, the vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, and carotenoids contained in broccoli function to lower the risk of oxidative stress in the body. These nutrients have the ability to sustain oxygen metabolism and avoid excess development of exceedingly reactive, oxygen-containing molecules which makes them equally useful in lowering the risk of chronic inflammation and the risk of cancer(Ambrosone 299). In a study published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers found that broccoli sprouts reduced oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes patients(Bahadoran 973).
Type 2 diabetes is associated with oxidative stress which may lead to long term vascular complications, disability, and even death in diabetes patients. These consequences can be avoided by lowering oxidative stress which the study found to be effective by the consumption of broccoli sprouts(974). Additional health benefits of broccoli include its’ role in eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids found in ample concentrations in broccoli, play a particularly vital role in the health of the eye(Murray et al. 163).
The outer portion of the retina is the most concentrated with lutein and the central portion of the retina is uniquely concentrated with zeaxanthin. Risk of problems concerning macular degeneration or cataracts have both been shown to decrease with the consumption of foods that provide significant amounts of the lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids, such as broccoli(163). Further health benefits of broccoli consist of preventing and controlling medical concerns such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, calcium deficiencies, malignant tumors, lung cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and even the aging process.
How to wholly benefit from broccoli Many of the health benefits correlated with the intake of broccoli require the consumption of the whole vegetable. Supplements would not be efficient enough in providing all the benefits the whole vegetable itself would. Key phytonutrients are poorly absorbed and are not as valuable if taken as a supplement. Therefore, in order to benefit wholly from broccoli, it must be consumed as a whole vegetable, not a supplement(Bella 10955). Also, in order to benefit maximally from broccoli, an average of 1/2 cup of broccoli per day should be consumed(Ambrosone 300).
A two-cup serving twice a week would still fulfill this minimum average amount. In order to obtain discernible effects such as cancer prevention, 1. 6 cups of broccoli per day is recommended. In order to optimize antioxidant levels in the blood, especially beta-carotene and lutein, three cups daily is recommended(300). In Conclusion, Broccoli has everlasting amounts of importance to a human being’s health. It can prevent diseases plus its importance for a healthy standard of living go without question. I personally take pleasure in broccoli and every single one of its benefits. It is beyond doubt the finest vegetable there can be,