Benefits Of Broccoli For Health: Broccoli contains many vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Broccoli’s benefits include helping reduce inflammation, keeping blood sugar stable, and strengthening the immune system.
Broccoli is a green vegetable that vaguely resembles a miniature tree. It belongs to the plant species known as Brassica oleracea.
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, It’s closely related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower — all edible plants collectively referred to as cruciferous vegetables.
There are three main varieties of broccoli:
cauliflower — despite its name a type of broccoli
1. Packed With Vitamins, Minerals and Bioactive Compounds
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, One of broccoli’s biggest advantages is its nutrient content. It’s loaded with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other bioactive compounds.
Broccoli can be eaten cooked or raw — both are perfectly healthy but provide different nutrient profiles.
Different cooking methods, such as boiling, microwaving, stir-frying and steaming, alter the vegetable’s nutrient composition, particularly reducing vitamin C, as well as soluble protein and sugar. Steaming appears to have the fewest negative effects.
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, Still, raw or cooked, broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C. Just half a cup (78 grams) of cooked broccoli provides 84% of the reference daily intake (RDI) — more than one-half orange can offer.
2. Contains Potent Antioxidants That Offer Health-Protective Effects
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, The antioxidant content of broccoli may be one of its main boons for human health.
Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit or neutralize cell damage caused by free radicals. This can lead to reduced inflammation and an overall health-protective effect.
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, Broccoli has high levels of glucoraphanin, a compound that is converted into a potent antioxidant called sulforaphane during digestion.
Test-tube and animal studies indicate that sulforaphane may offer multiple health benefits, including reduced blood sugar, cholesterol levels, oxidative stress and chronic disease development. However, more research is needed to understand its role in humans.
Broccoli also contains measurable amounts of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may prevent oxidative stress and cellular damage in your eyes.
3. Bioactive Compounds May Contribute to Reduced Inflammation
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, Broccoli contains various bioactive compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation in your body’s tissues.
It’s theorized that multiple compounds work synergistically to support this effect, though some seem to work individually as well.
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, Kaempferol, a flavonoid in broccoli, demonstrates strong anti-inflammatory capacity in both animal and test-tube studies.
A small human study in tobacco smokers also revealed that eating broccoli led to a significant reduction in markers of inflammation.
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, While these results are promising, more research is needed to better understand how broccoli consumption affects inflammation in humans.
4. May Protect Against Certain Types of Cancer
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, contain various bioactive compounds that may reduce cell damage caused by certain chronic diseases.
Multiple small studies have shown that eating cruciferous vegetables may protect against certain types of cancer, namely:
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, Though this data is encouraging, it isn’t strong enough to make definitive health claims regarding broccoli’s role in cancer treatment or prevention.
Ultimately, more human research is needed to determine the relationship between cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention.
5. Antioxidants and Fiber May Aid Blood Sugar Control
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, Eating broccoli may support better blood sugar control in people with diabetes. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, it may be related to broccoli’s antioxidant content.
One human study showed significantly decreased insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes who consumed broccoli sprouts daily for one month.
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, Interestingly, an animal study revealed decreased blood sugar in addition to reduced pancreatic cell damage in diabetic rats fed broccoli extract.
Broccoli is also a good source of fiber. Some research indicates that higher intake of dietary fiber is associated with lower blood sugar and improved diabetic control.
6. May Support Heart Health in a Variety of Ways
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, Several studies indicate that broccoli may support heart health in a variety of ways.
Elevated “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels are known to be major risk factors for heart disease. Broccoli may play a role in improving these markers.
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, One study noticed significantly reduced triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as increased “good” HDL cholesterol levels in people who were treated with a powdered broccoli sprout supplement.
Some research also supports the notion that specific antioxidants in broccoli may reduce your overall risk of heart attack.
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, A study in mice fed broccoli sprouts revealed a potentially protective effect against cell death and oxidative stress in heart tissue following a cardiac arrest.
Additionally, higher intake of fiber-rich foods like broccoli is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
7. Promotes Healthy Digestion and Reduced Constipation
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, Broccoli is rich in fiber and antioxidants — both of which may support healthy bowel function and digestive health.
Bowel regularity and a strong community of healthy bacteria within your colon are two vital components to digestive health. Eating fiber- and antioxidant-rich foods like broccoli may play a role in maintaining healthy gut function.
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, A study in mice on a broccoli diet found reduced levels of inflammation in the colon, as well as favorable changes in gut bacteria.
A recent human study indicated that people who ate broccoli were able to defecate more easily than individuals in the control group.
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, Though these results are promising, more human research is needed to better understand how broccoli affects digestive health.
8. May Slow Mental Decline and Support Healthy Brain Function
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, Some of the nutrients and bioactive compounds in broccoli may slow mental decline and support healthy brain and nervous tissue function.
A study in 960 older adults revealed that one serving per day of dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, may help resist mental decline associated with aging.
Additionally, an animal study showed that mice treated with kaempferol — a compound in broccoli — had lowered incidence of brain injury and reduced inflammation of neural tissue following a stroke-like event.
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, Sulforaphane is another potent bioactive compound present in broccoli with the potential to support brain function after an event of reduced oxygenation to the brain.
In some studies, mice treated with sulforaphane showed significant brain tissue recovery and reduced neural inflammation following brain injury or toxic exposure.
Benefits Of Broccoli For Health, Most current research evaluating the effect of bioactive compounds found in broccoli on brain health are restricted to animal studies. More research is needed to determine how these compounds support neurological function in humans.