Sadly, when George Bush was President of the US and said “I do not like broccoli...and I haven't liked it since I was a little kid when my mother made me eat it
”, he just did not know what he was missing out on!
Fortunately, he is in the minority with this vegetable (particularly with adults) as it is one of the most popular and one of the easiest to buy all year round. But unless they are brought up with this vegetable, lots of young children turn up their noses when broccoli appears on their plate.
This is a pity because broccoli is one big powerhouse of nutrients and is number 2 in the “Top Ten List of the Most Nutritious Vegetables” where it is described as “good steamed or raw (as a snack or in salads) and cooked in soups, stir-fries and other dishes. The green flower heads and stalks can be used as they are both equally nutritious
There are so many benefits of broccoli
- Masses of vitamin C helping the body to absorb iron, prevent cataracts and lessen the discomfort of colds. One cup of broccoli contains your daily requirement of vitamin C, an antioxidant that is also necessary for fighting against free radicals.
- Great for pregnant women because of the folic acid.
- Excellent for anyone with high blood pressure and the threat of osteoporosis because broccoli is rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium. The presence of potassium helps maintain a healthy nervous system and optimal brain function, as well as aiding regular muscle growth. There is also a high level of vitamin K which is very important for bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis.
- Broccoli is high in fiber helping to enhance the GI tract and reduce blood cholesterol levels. High fiber also aids in digestion, prevents constipation (helping to avoid hemorrhoids and anal fissures), maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating. Did you know that a cup of broccoli has as much protein as a cup of rice or corn with half the calories?
- Broccoli helps to repair skin damage because it contains glucoraphanin to assist the skin to detox and self-repair. In addition, the body processes glucoraphanin into the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane. This compound rids the body of a certain bacteria that has been found to highly increase the risk of gastric cancer.
- Probably the most important aspect of our health and well being is to have a strong immune system. One cup of broccoli bolsters the immune system with a large dose of beta-carotene. Trace minerals, such as zinc and selenium, further act to strengthen immune defence actions. A strong immune system helps to prevent the recurrence of many viral conditions such as herpes and shingles.
- Studies have shown that the carotenoid lutein helps prevent age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, as well as possessing anti-cancer effects. Broccoli is a also a good source of vitamin A that is needed to form retinal, the light-absorbing molecule that is essential for both low-light and color vision.
- The carotenoid lutein in broccoli may help to slow down or even prevent the thickening of arteries in the human body, thus fighting against heart disease and stoke while the presence of B6 and folate in broccoli also reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.
And that is not all
The tremendous health benefits of broccoli have been linked to preventing and controlling the following additional medical concerns: Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, calcium deficiencies, malignant tumors, lung cancer, arthritis
and even the aging process. Good news for us all!
Cooking and serving broccoli
When you are serving broccoli to your friends and family or just to yourself, remember that you can eat it raw or lightly steamed. While my husband likes to eat broccoli raw, I prefer it lightly steamed and then put in a dish, covered with a cheesy white sauce, with more grated cheese on top together with some fresh breadcrumbs and paprika, and put under the grill to melt and brown slightly before serving. This can be a main supper dish or as a side dish with meat.
Some people avoid eating the stems of the vegetable but that is such a waste of nutrition. Peel away the tough outer skin, slice into small pieces, or cooking them whole, tastes good with a little teriyaki sauce. You can add to soups and stews and stir fries. But never overcook. Should be slightly crunchy.
When shopping, broccoli should be firm and if you notice that some broccoli tops appear more purple than others then this is excellent news for your health! It means that they have a higher level of carotenoids.