While Newman (from Seinfeld) derisively referred to broccoli as a vile weed, broccoli provides a complex of tastes and textures, ranging from the soft and flowery florets to the fibrous and crunchy stem and stalk. Its color can range from deep sage to dark green to purplish green, depending upon the variety.
Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous (cabbage) family, so called because the flower has four petals in the shape of a cross. Relatives include broccolini (broccoli & kale) and broccoflower (broccoli and cauliflower). Broccoli sprouts have also recently become popular as a result of research disclosing their high concentration of the anti-cancer phytochemical sulforaphane.
Though low in calories, broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense foods. It is an excellent source of vitamins K, C and A as well as folic acid and fiber. It is a very good source of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and the vitamins B6 and E. It also contains glucosinolates, phytochemicals with tremendous effects and the carotenoid lutein.
The health benefits of broccoli, like other members of the cabbage family, demonstrate remarkable anti-cancer effects, particularly in breast cancer compounds, known as glucosinolate. Specifically, indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane increase the excretion of the form of estrogen (2-hydroxyestrone) linked to breast cancer.
Human studies with sulforaphane have shown that these compounds stimulate the body's production of detoxification enzymes and exert antioxidant effects.
Insole-3-carbinol is also an important cancer fighting compound as it has been shown to arrest growth of both breast and prostate cancer cells. In preliminary studies it also increases the ability of the liver to detoxify toxic compounds as well as decrease the growth of human papilloma virus linked to cervical cancer.
While preliminary studies suggest that in order to cut the risk of cancer in half, the average person would need to eat about two pounds of broccoli or similar vegetables per week. Because the concentration of sulforaphane is much higher in broccoli sprouts than in mature broccoli, the same reduction in risk theoretically might be had with a weekly intake of just a little over an ounce of sprouts.
Sulforaphane may also be proven to be effective in helping the body get rid of Helicobacter pylori, this bacterium is responsible for most peptic ulcers and also increases a person's risk of getting gastric cancer 3 to 6 fold, it is also a causative factor in a wide range of other stomach disorders including gastritis esophagitis and acid indigestion. Broccoli is also a rich source of lutein which has also shown anti-cancer effects. It may also be helpful in preventing the development of age-related macular degeneration as this carotenoid is concentrated in the retina where it acts to protect it from damage.
Once harvested, broccoli loses its sugar and nutrients very rapidly. Choose the freshest broccoli in the supermarket, it should be deep sage, dark green, or purplish green. Depending on variety, the stocks and stems should be firm, full heads of broccoli have more nutrients than pre-cut florets.
Use the vegetable as soon as possible, eat it raw or cook it lightly. If you keep the broccoli for more than a day put it in a sealed plastic bag that you have pricked about 20 times with a pin, then place it in the crisper drawer. For the freshest broccoli grow your own or shop at a farmers market.
While raw broccoli is most nutrient-dense, steaming broccoli for less than five minutes preserves a lot of the nutrient potential. Boiling it or cooking it in the microwave destroys a high percentage of its potential nutrients.
A great way to serve broccoli is to quickly stir fry in a pan with olive oil and garlic.
Our favorite way to eat broccoli is steamed for four minutes then topped with BUTTER, GARLIC, PARMESAN CHEESE.. it won't disappoint.. !!