Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family (family Brassicaceae, genus Brassica) whose large flowering head and stalk is eaten as a vegetable. The word broccoli comes from the Italian plural of broccolo, which means “the flowering crest of a cabbage”, and is the diminutive form of brocco, meaning “small nail” or “sprout”. Broccoli is classified in the Italica cultivar group of the species Brassica oleracea. Broccoli has large flower heads, usually dark green in color, arranged in a tree-like structure branching out from a thick stalk which is usually light green. The mass of flower heads surrounded by leaves. It is eaten raw or cooked. Broccoli is a particularly rich source of vitamin C and vitamin K.
Calabrese broccoli: It is the most common type, named after Calabria (Italy) and is simply called broccoli.
Sprouting broccoli: This variety has many heads and thin stalks.
Purple cauliflower: It is shaped like cauliflower and consists of tiny flower buds.
The other types include broccoli Rabe, Chinese broccoli, and broccoflower.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of broccoli.
- Heart health (eating steamed broccoli regularly lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases by reducing the total amount of cholesterol in the body. Also, cruciferous vegetables are linked to reducing the risk of heart disease).
- Prevent constipation (Broccoli consists of fibres which improve gut health and enable smooth flow of bowel movement).
- Eye health (Carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin in broccoli can help decrease the risk of age-related eye disorders such as cataract and macular degeneration. Also, broccoli consists of beta carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A that can avoid night blindness).
- Bone health (Vitamin K is an essential micronutrient that is needed for blood clotting, which in turn plays an important role in keeping the bones healthy).
- Reducing the risk of cancer (Cruciferous vegetables contain a range of antioxidants, which may help prevent the type of cell damage that leads to cancer).
- Liver health (can help to keep your liver functioning at its optimal level by lessening the development of fatty liver and liver cancer).
- Brain health (helps boost cognition and memory because it is rich in vitamin K and choline. In addition, sulforaphane can also help aid in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s and many neurodegenerative diseases).
- Hair care (Nutrients, found in broccoli, like vitamins A and C are great for keeping your hair shiny, thick, and healthy. These vitamins also counter dry hair).
- Anti-inflammatory properties (antioxidants like vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, sulforaphane, kaempferol, and many others, which makes this vegetable good for relieving inflammation).
- Anti-aging properties (Broccoli combats the aging process with the help of a compound called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) and antioxidants).
- Improves metabolism (Nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, folate, and vitamin A in broccoli assist in boosting the body’s metabolism).
- Improves sexual libido (can boost blood circulation to the organs of the body and help in improving libido).
- Detoxifies the body (It helps remove free radicals and toxins like uric acid from the body, thereby purifying the blood and keeping away toxin-related problems such as boils, itches, rashes, gout, arthritis, rheumatism, renal calculi, skin diseases like eczema, and hardening of the skin).
- Skin care (Broccoli aids in skincare and gives you a glowing, healthy, and radiant appearance).
- Protects from UV rays (Glucoraphanin, a phytonutrient found in significant amounts in broccoli, has been connected with reversing the negative effects of sun exposure).
- Boosts immunity.
- Fights anemia (The vegetable is rich in iron and protein and hence, forms an excellent remedy against anemia).
- Regulates blood pressure and controls diabetes.
The common side effects are as follows:
- Abdominal pain
- Allergic reactions
- Skin rashes
- Blood thinning – Vitamin K in broccoli can inhibit your anticoagulant medication.
- Hypothyroidism – The green vegetable can worsen thyroid condition if eaten in excess.