Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family and closely related to the cauliflower. Its unique tree-like structure is actually the flower head of an edible green plant. This cruciferous vegetable provides a range of taste and textures, ranging from soft and flowery florets to fibrous and crunchy stems.
Anti-inflammatory: Isothiocyanate compounds present in broccoli help to shut down the process that produces components needed in the inflammatory system.
Antioxidant: Broccoli is one of the most concentrated vegetables with vitamin C, a premier antioxidant nutrient. In addition, broccoli has phytochemicals such as flavonoids and carotenoids that function as key antioxidants.
Detoxification: Phytochemicals in broccoli called glucosinolates are converted into isothiocyanates in our bodies, which aid in both phases of the detoxification process.
Cancer prevention: Due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and pro-detoxification properties, broccoli is a unique food in cancer prevention.
Lowering cholesterol: The fiber-related nutrients in broccoli bind some of the bile acids in the intestine and are eliminated in the stool. When this happens, the liver needs to replace the lost bile salts by drawing from its cholesterol stores and thus lowering cholesterol levels.
Good source of:
Vitamin C, K, A
Purchasing, storing, and enjoying:
Purchasing: Broccoli can be purchased as a whole head or in pre-cut florets. Look for clean heads in which the bud clusters are not separated. Spotted or dull-colored broccoli should not be purchased. Cauliflower is available year-round.
Storing: Raw cauliflower should be stored in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator where it will keep for a week. To prevent moisture from developing in the floret clusters, store it with the stem side down. If you purchase pre-cut florets, consume them within one or two days.
Enjoying: Steaming is the healthiest way to eat broccoli, more so than raw. Studies have shown that steamed broccoli is more able to bind bile salts in the digestive tract than raw broccoli. Add broccoli in pasta dishes or stir-fries, or simply eat them on their own as a side.
Resources & recipes:
Tofu and broccoli in garlic sauce: http://vegetarian.about.com/od/tofurecipes/r/tofugarlicsauce.htm
Cream of broccoli soup: http://ecosalon.com/green-goodness-vegan-cream-of-broccoli-soup-recipe/
Ambrosone CB, Tang L. Cruciferous vegetable intake and cancer prevention: role of nutrigenetics. Cancer Prev Res (Phila Pa). 2009 Apr;2(4):298-300. 2009.
Cornelis MC, El-Sohemy A, Campos H. GSTT1 genotype modifies the association between cruciferous vegetable intake and the risk of myocardial infarction. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Sep;86(3):752-8. 2007.
Tang L, Zirpoli GR, Guru K et al. Consumption of Raw Cruciferous Vegetables is Inversely Associated with Bladder Cancer Risk. Cancer Res. 2007 Apr 15;67(8):3569-73. 2007.
Traka M, Gasper AV, Melchini A et al. Broccoli consumption interacts with GSTM1 to perturb oncogenic signalling pathways in the prostate. PLoS One. 2008 Jul 2;3(7):e2568. 2008.
Vasanthi HR, Mukherjee S and Das DK. Potential health benefits of broccoli- a chemico-biological overview. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2009 Jun;9(6):749-59. 2009.
Kahlon TS, Chiu MC, and Chapman MH. Steam cooking significantly improves in vitro bile acid binding of collard greens, kale, mustard greens, broccoli, green bell pepper, and cabbage. Nutr Res. 2008 Jun;28(6):351-7. 2008.