Broccoli is one of those staple vegetables we were force-fed as children but continue to eat as adults. While those little trees aren’t much to look at, they pack a big punch of nutritional benefits.
To inspire you to get a forkful of the bushy vegetable into your mouth, here are 11 ways broccoli can boost your health!
1. Provides a Great Source of Fiber
When our parents told us to eat our vegetables, they kind of had a point!
With 2.6 grams of fiber per cup, broccoli is a great source of fiber whether you eat it raw, cook it, steam it, or add it into a casserole. Fiber can help aid your digestive system. This will keep your system regular and free of bathroom issues, which we’d all like to avoid. Steamed broccoli can bind together with bile acids in your digestive tract, making it easier to relieve yourself.
Additionally, a high-fiber diet has many benefits beyond the bathroom. A high-fiber diet has been shown to help reduce your risk of stroke, hypertension, and heart disease!
2. Helps Lower Cholesterol
Broccoli’s amount of fiber may be great for our bowel movements, but it can be celebrated for more than that. Because broccoli is an invaluable source of soluble fiber, the vegetable can help lower cholesterol, especially when prepared by steaming it.
3. May Reduce Allergies
Broccoli won’t stop you from contracting the common cold, but it can potentially stop you from sneezing fits due to allergies.
One study found that broccoli, which is rich in sulforaphane, could decrease people’s nasal allergic responses to diesel exhaust particles. The superfood may not totally erase your allergies, but it can potentially diminish their effects. That means you’ll sneeze less and need to carry fewer tissues.
4. Helps Prevent Cancer
Eating a high volume of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli has been associated with a lower risk of lung and colon cancer, which are two reasons you should be adding broccoli to your dinner a few times a week. Sulforaphane, the sulfur-containing compound that gives broccoli its bitter taste, is largely credited for the vegetable’s ability to fight the disease.
Studies show that women who ate more than five servings of cruciferous vegetables per week had a lower risk of lung cancer. Research has also found that women who eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables have a lower risk of being diagnosed with colon cancer.
Another study showed a link between consuming cruciferous vegetables and a lower risk of breast cancer. While the research speaks for itself, more studies are needed to establish a concrete link between a lower cancer risk and broccoli consumption — as the results may also be due to a total increase in fiber.
5. Contributes to Healthy Bone Density
Broccoli has a considerable amount of calcium, which, when consumed, can contribute to a healthier bone density and even potentially prevent osteoporosis.
A low bone density can cause your bones to become weak, which allows bone breaks to happen more easily. One cup of broccoli also contains over 100 percent of your daily need of vitamin K, which can improve your bone strength.
6. Can Improve Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is a big problem, even in highly developed nations like the United States.
Although broccoli doesn’t contain a high amount of vitamin D itself, it can help offset the effects of taking large supplemental doses of vitamin D. Broccoli’s unusually strong combination of both vitamin A and vitamin K can help keep our vitamin D metabolism in balance. So if you’re taking any vitamin D supplements, be sure to add broccoli to your diet.
7. Better Digestion
Broccoli’s high concentration of natural fiber enables the vegetable to help prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract. The high fiber content is also helpful for promoting regularity in the digestive system, which is important because it allows toxins to depart the body via your stool.
8. Can Help You Look Younger
If you’ve noticed that the elements of the outdoors, and just life in general, have been taking a toll on your skin, you might want to consider adding more broccoli to your diet.
Broccoli contains many antioxidants, including vitamin C. When eaten in its natural form (as in, from a fruit or vegetable rather than from a supplement), vitamin C can help fight skin damage caused by the sun and pollution. It can also fight against wrinkles and help improve your overall skin texture.
9. Can Reduce Inflammation
Since broccoli is a rich source of kaempferol and isothiocyanates, it can reduce any allergy-related inflammation. The green-topped tree also has a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which are helpful in preventing inflammation.
10. Boosts Heart Health
Not only can broccoli reduce your cholesterol, it can aid your heart health by promoting blood vessel strength.
Sulforaphane, found in broccoli, can also help prevent or reverse damage to your blood vessel lining. One study found that broccoli’s vitamin B complex content can help regulate, or even reverse, excessive homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that typically builds up in your body after eating red meat, and is a marker for inflammation. Since homocysteine can increase your chances of developing coronary artery disease, adding broccoli to your diet could prevent your heart health from failing.
11. It’s Delicious!
As far as vegetables go, broccoli is quite tasty and can be cooked and consumed in a variety of ways. Whether you eat it raw over a salad, or steam it and include it as a side to your main dish, broccoli is a tasty contribution that also contributes to your overall health. Add some broccoli to your breakfast omelette, or add it as a side to your next dinner.