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Broccoli: an asset to eating well

Published: March 11, 2016

Broccoli is a popular vegetable belonging to the cabbage family. Often cited as a “superfood”, broccoli provides an array of macronutrients and micronutrients. A ½ cup serving of broccoli provides many essential nutrients which are required for optimal body function.

Broccoli is a source of an array of nutrients
Broccoli is a source of an array of nutrients
As well as contributing to your intake of essential vitamins and minerals, broccoli also contains a variety of phytochemicals some of which are thought to offer protection against some forms of cancer.
Despite a significant amount of research concerning the health benefits associated with the consumption of vegetables such as broccoli, research has yet to identify a direct cause effect relationship between the consumption of broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables, and a reduced risk of cancer.
In addition, some studies suggest that when consumed in a particular form components in broccoli may have a negative effect on health.
Although broccoli has become the most popular member of the cabbage family, it is not everyone’s favourite. Read on to learn more about broccoli, its nutrient composition and potential health benefits.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable belonging to the species Brassica oleracea commonly referred to as the cabbage family. Other vegetables within this species include various types of cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, and kohlrabi.
Calabrese broccoli is the most common type of broccoli recognised for its large dark green head and leaves, and thick stalks. Another type of broccoli is “sprouting broccoli” which has thinner stalks and more heads which can be green or purple.
The head or flower head is composed of small florets, “tree-like” structures which sprout from the stalk. In its natural state dark green leaves surround the flower head and along with the stalk are also edible although thick stalks may need to be peeled if woody. Grocry store broccoli is usually leafless.
Although broccoli appears similar to cauliflower, cauliflower heads consist of fused curds rather than numerous individual small florets. Broccoli is seldom “out of season”, but needs a rich soil and plenty of water for crops to flourish.
Broccoli may have Mediterranean origins and has been cultivated in parts of Europe since medieval time. Different cultivars are grown in various parts of Europe and America.
Cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are also cruciferous vegetables
Cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are also cruciferous vegetables
In the last few decades broccoli has become one of the most popular vegetables, particularly among the cabbage family. This is not only due to its flavour, but also its nutrient composition.
When selecting broccoli look for small, fresh heads and stalks that you can snap between your fingers.
Nutrient composition
Broccoli is a source of essential macronutrients and micronutrients which support health. Macronutrients include carbohydrate, protein (all essential amino acids in very small amounts) and fibre.
Micronutrients include: Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, folate, pantothenic acid, beta..link to the full article to learn more.


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Latte, KP et al. (2011) Health benefits and possible risks of broccoli: An overview Food and Chemical Toxicology 49 3287-3309
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CSPI November 2007, CSPI November 2011