The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Broccoli
While not common knowledge, broccoli is actually a member of the cabbage family of vegetables. Its name is derived from Italian and can be roughly translated to “the flowering cabbage head”. There are many ways to cook broccoli such as boiling, frying or steaming. However, it can be eaten raw by those who wish to enjoy its full nutrient profile. Like many dark green vegetables, there are a number of health benefits offered by this plant. Some of these have existed for centuries while others have only recently been uncovered by scientists. Let us take a look at some of the most pronounced advantages in the remainder of this article.
One of the most surprising advantages of this green vegetable is that it contains copious amounts of vitamin C. Most individuals only attribute this necessary vitamin to citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons. However, one serving of broccoli (100 grams) supplies the body with an impressive 150 per cent of the normal recommended daily allowance. There are a host of benefits in regards to this concentration. Not only does vitamin C boost the immune system, but it is critical at providing the body with energy as well as helping the cells to repair themselves. Such strong antioxidant properties are central to promote a long and healthy life.
This is an advantage which has only been recently discovered. Scientists believe that regularly consuming broccoli is an excellent way to prevent osteoarthritis (a painful condition which is the result of a loss of cartilage between joints such as the elbows, knees and fingers). This arises from the observation that broccoli contains a compound known as sulforaphane. Sulforaphane works by interrupting the enzymatic processes which break down cartilage in human tissue. While this may not ultimately reverse the effects of arthritis, it is assumed that it can help to mitigate the symptoms and to prevent further deterioration from occurring.
Skin Cancer Solutions?
Another strange and yet entirely plausible benefit is that broccoli is thought to possibly protect the skin against the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Of course, these rays are some of the primary causes of skin cancer in adults. However, this will not take place by consuming copious amounts of broccoli. On the contrary, broccoli extract can be applied directly to the skin. As this extract is likewise high in vitamin C, it only stands to reason that certain anti-aging properties may be uncovered in the future.
Reducing the Risk of Bladder Cancer
Broccoli is rich in antioxidants. This has been known for decades. Antioxidants can help to prevent genetic damage within cells as they reproduce. Not only is this damage considered to be a factor within the aging process, but mutations place cells at a higher risk of splitting unnaturally. Thus, many types of cancer can potentially be avoided. Some research has pointed out that the prevalence of bladder cancer can be reduced by up to 40 percent by regularly eating broccoli.
Aerial Pollutants within the Body are Lowered
Although this process is not yet completely understood, it is thought that consuming broccoli or drinking it as a tea can help to reduce the levels of certain airborne pollutants within the body. Chemicals such as benzene and acrolein are byproducts of many industries and can be suspended in the air for long periods of time. If these are inhaled into the lungs, they can pass from the alveoli directly into the bloodstream. These carcinogenic compounds are responsible for some forms of cancer. Research shows that drinking one-half of a cup of broccoli tea per day helps the body to eliminate these toxins quickly.
Protecting Blood Vessels within the Heart
Broccoli is considered to be one of the most heart-healthy foods in existence. It can help to lower blood serum levels of cholesterol while simultaneously reducing the levels of plaque within arteries (a common symptom associated with heart disease and even stroke). Recent studies have suggested that there are indeed other benefits worth looking at. One interesting finding is that broccoli helps the body produce specific enzymes that are essential in repairing cardiac blood vessels and valves. This may reduce the effects of existing heart disease although it is not yet known if such damage can ultimately be reversed.
Many consumers do not often associate the health benefits of broccoli with sustained levels of energy. However, we should recall that this vegetable contains massive amounts of vitamin C. This is then combined with an impressive vitamin B profile (one of the main nutrients required for cellular metabolism). While perhaps not as common as eating an orange or an apple, consuming broccoli will offer a healthy and clean source of every to complete one’s daily tasks.
Good for the Skin
Broccoli is a vegetable which contains extremely high amounts of zinc. This mineral is not widely known and yet it is essential to protect the body against many skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and premature aging. As opposed to topical treatments, a diet high in broccoli can help to stave off damage to the skin caused by the environment. It should also be noted that zinc is likewise involved in cellular repair processes. When this is used in synergy with vitamin C and vitamin B, the effects may be even more pronounced.
It should be mentioned that overcooked broccoli will lose many of its nutrients. Eating this vegetable raw is the best way to enjoy these impressive benefits. However, broccoli may also be steamed or boiled. The water can then be consumed along with the plant itself. All parts are edible although the bulbous ends contain the highest amounts of vitamins and minerals. In many ways, broccoli should be a regular part of any healthy diet.