food Jun 7, 2021
Photo by Leilani Angel / Unsplash

Like cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, collard greens, rutabaga, and turnips, broccoli belongs to the family Brassicaceae or cruciferae. Cruciferous plants contain a number of
beneficial phytochemicals including INDOLES (nitrogen compounds) which offer protection against
cancer by preventing carcinogens from damaging genetic material.

Broccoli is believed to have originated in the northern Mediterranean in about the 6th century BC.
Since the 16 th or 17 th century, a popular variety has been cultivated in the Italian province of Calabria where it is known as Calabrese.
It was commonly consumed either raw or cooked since the time of the Roman Empire. Broccoli derived its name from the Latin “brachium” meaning “branch”.
Its large flowering head and stalk are eaten as a vegetable. The freshness of broccoli is indicated by crisp, easily  snapped stalks. It has an extremely bitter and unpleasant taste due to the presence of a sulfur-containing chemical compound, sulforaphane.

Broccoli is a great source of vitamins A, K, C, E and vitamin B complex, minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, sodium, potassium, chromium and phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids, phytonutrients like glucoraphanin, glucosinolates, isothiocyanate, and flavonoids like kaempferol, fibre, and antioxidants like beta-carotene. It is also rich in proteins like tryptophan and lutein zeaxanthin.

Raw broccoli contains 89% water, 7% carbohydrates, 3% protein, and negligible amount of fat.
Vitamin C and sulforaphane are retained when broccoli is steamed rather than boiled.

100 gram of raw broccoli provides 34 calories of energy, and is a rich source of vitamin C and vitamin K, several B vitamins and the dietary mineral manganese are found in moderate amounts and other micronutrients in low content.

Photo by Louis Hansel / Unsplash

Health benefits

The alkalinity of this vegetable helps balance the pH levels of the body.

  • Broccoli helps to keep the functioning of the liver at its optimal level.
  • Sulforaphane, the sulfur-containing compound of broccoli provides cancer-fighting power and Lowers the risk of cancer. It also lowers blood sugar levels in diabetics and increases insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients along with the flavonoids present in broccoli.
  • Broccoli decreases the risk of breast cancer in women, helps in increasing cognition and memory by preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Vitamins and minerals present in broccoli keep the bones and teeth strong and also help prevent osteoporosis, weakening of bones and teeth, and calcium deficiency. It prevents hair loss, gout, arthritis, rheumatism, renal calculi, and skin diseases like eczema, allergies, boils, itches, rashes, and hardening of the skin.
  • Broccoli improves complete skin texture by reducing wrinkles, helps in skin care and provides a glowing, healthy, and radiant appearance. It prevents skin damage caused by the sun and pollution and also delays aging and provides good relief from inflammation.
  • Natural fibre of broccoli lowers the risk of colon cancer by preventing constipation and maintaining a healthy digestive tract. It also regulates the immune system, and also lowers risks of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improving insulin sensitivity, and enhancing weight loss in obese individuals.
  • Broccoli improves vision and ocular health by repairing the damage caused by radiation and also protects eyes against macular degeneration and cataracts.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids of broccoli help in preventing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and reduce or delay the onset of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
  • Antioxidants of this vegetable protect the body from numerous infections.
  • Broccoli prevents anaemia and birth defects such as neural tube defects, which is a major problem for pregnant women.

Side effects

Although this wonderful vegetable has a wealth of health benefits, it has some common side effects such as allergic reactions, skin rashes, and gas and bowel irritation.


If the person is under anticoagulant medication, using blood thinners, should be cautious because Vitamin K inhibits anticoagulant medication.

If eaten in excess, broccoli can worsen thyroid condition. So, it will be safe, by taking the advice of a doctor before eating it in large quantities. Better to eat it in moderation to enjoy the health benefits.


A. Sandhya

M.Sc Zoology

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