What is broccoli?
Broccoli is a branched, green vegetable with either purple or more commonly green flower buds. It belongs to the brassica family, along with cauliflower, cabbage, and kale, and can be eaten raw or cooked.
Discover our full range of health benefits guides and find out more about the health credentials of other green vegetables. Or, check out some of our best broccoli recipes, from mains like quinoa, squash, and broccoli salad, to new twists on a side such as broccoli with garlic and lemon.
Broccoli has a reputation as a superfood. It is low in calories but contains a wealth of nutrients and antioxidants that support many aspects of human health.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, alongside kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens, rutabaga, and turnips.
This Pritish Kumar Halder article will help you to get complete knowledge about broccoli.
Nutritional benefits of broccoli
An 80g portion of broccoli (boiled) provides:
- 22 kcals/96KJ
- 6g protein
- 4g fat
- 2g carbohydrates
- 2g fiber
- 478mcg carotene
- 35mg of vitamin C
An 80g portion (about two spears) counts as one of your five-a-day. Take a look at our printable infographic to discover what counts as five-a-day.
Broccoli is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Antioxidants can help prevent the development of various conditions.
The body produces molecules called free radicals during natural processes such as metabolism, and environmental stresses add to these. Free radicals, or reactive oxygen species, are toxic in large amounts. They can cause cell damage that can lead to cancer and other conditions.
The body can eliminate many of them, but dietary antioxidants can help. Learn more about antioxidants here.
The sections below discuss the specific health benefits of broccoli in more detail.
Reducing the risk of cancer
Cruciferous vegetables contain a range of antioxidants, which may help prevent trusted Sources of the type of cell damage that leads to cancer.
One of these is sulforaphane, which is a sulfur-containing compound that gives cruciferous vegetables their bitter bite.
Some scientists trusted Source has suggested that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli may play a role in “green chemoprevention,” in which people use either the whole plant or extracts from it to help prevent cancer.
Cruciferous vegetables also contain indole-3-carbinol. .
Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, turnips, cabbage, arugula, broccolini, daikon, kohlrabi, and watercress may all have similar properties.
Improving bone health
Calcium and collagen work together to make strong bones. Over 99% of the body’s calcium is present in the bones and teeth. The body also needs vitamin C to produce collagen. Both are present in broccoli.
Vitamin K has a role in blood coagulation, but some experts have also suggested that it may help prevent trusted Sources or treat osteoporosis. People with low vitamin K levels may be more likely to experience problems with bone formation. Getting enough vitamin K from the diet may help keep the bones healthy.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a cup of broccoli weighing around 76 gramsTrusted Source (g) contains 3% to 3.5% of a person’s daily need for calcium, 45–54%Trusted Source of their daily need for vitamin C, and 64–86% of their daily need for vitamin K, depending on their age and sex.
Boosting immune health
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that provides trusted Sources with a range of benefits.
It supports the immune system and may help prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), cataracts, and anemia. In supplement form, it may also help reduce the symptoms of the common cold and shorten the time a cold lasts.
Improving skin health
Vitamin C helps the body produce collagen, which is the main support system for body cells and organs, including the skin. As an antioxidant, vitamin C can also help prevent trusted Source skin damage, including wrinkling due to aging.
Studies have shown that vitamin C may play a role in preventing or treating skin conditions such as shingles and skin cancer.
Dietary fiber can help promote regularity, prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract, and lower the risk of colon cancer.
In 2015, a screening trialTrusted Source found that people who consumed the highest levels of fiber were less likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who ate little fiber.
A 76 g cup of broccoli provides 5.4% to 7.1% of an individual’s daily requirement for fiber.
Which other foods support healthy digestion? Find out here.
When the immune system is under attack, inflammation can occur.
Inflammation can be a sign of a passing infection, but it can also occur with chronic autoimmune conditions such as arthritis and type 1 diabetes. People with metabolic syndrome may also have high levels of inflammation.
Broccoli may have anti-inflammatory effects, according to a 2014 study by trusted Sources. Scientists found that the antioxidant effect of sulforaphane in broccoli helped reduce inflammation markers in laboratory tests. They, therefore, concluded that the nutrients in broccoli could help fight inflammation.
In a 2018 study, 40 otherwise healthy people with overweight consumed 30 g of broccoli sprouts per day for 10 weeks. At the end of the study period, the participants had significantly lower levels of inflammation.
What is an anti-inflammatory diet? This article provides tips on foods to eat and avoid.
Reducing the risk of diabetes
eating broccoli may help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. This is due to its sulforaphane content. For more information please visit Pritish Kumar Halder ‘s page.
Also, one 2018 review trusted Source found that people who consume a high-fiber diet are less likely to have type 2 diabetes than those who eat little fiber. Fiber may also help reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. for
Which foods are good for people with diabetes? Get some tips here.
Protecting cardiovascular health
The fiber, potassium, and antioxidants in broccoli may help prevent CVD.
A 2018 population study by trusted Sources demonstrated that older women whose diets were rich in cruciferous vegetables had a lower risk of atherosclerosis. This is a condition affecting the arteries that can result in a heart attack or stroke. This benefit may be due to the antioxidant content of cruciferous vegetables, particularly sulforaphane.
The American Heart Association (AHA)Trusted Source recommends increasing the intake of potassium while adding less sodium to food. This relaxes the blood vessels and lowers the risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular problems.
A cup of broccoli provides almost 5% of a person’s daily need for potassium.
One 2017 review trusted Source found that people who eat the most fiber have a lower risk of CVD and lower levels of blood lipids (fat) than those who consume little fiber.
Top 5 health benefits of broccoli
Good for heart health
A risk of heart disease study by Nutrition Research found that consuming steamed broccoli regularly lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing the total amount of cholesterol in the body. Another study in the US also found that increasing vegetables in the diet, especially brassica vegetables like broccoli, may reduce the
Contains cancer-protective compounds
study by Nutrition Research found that consuming steamed broccoli regularly lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing the total amount of cholesterol in the body. Another study in the US also found that increasing vegetables in the diet, especially brassica vegetables like broccoli, may reduce the
While there are no single ‘superfoods’ that can prevent cancer, and certain risk factors for cancer are unrelated to diet, there is evidence that eating a healthy diet can reduce the risk of cancer. A key component of broccoli is a phytochemical known as sulforaphane, which is also responsible for broccoli’s slightly bitter taste. Studies have shown that sulforaphane may play a part in enhancing the detoxification of airborne toxins, such as cigarette smoke, and could help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Further research has suggested that broccoli may have anti-cancer properties and could reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Broccoli sprouts are an even more concentrated source of these cancer-fighting compounds. You can easily sprout broccoli seeds on your windowsill, just like you would cress.
May be good for eye health
Broccoli contains the carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin that, in 2003 and 2006 studies, were linked to a decreased risk of age-related eye disorders, such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Broccoli also contains beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, a deficiency that is associated with night blindness.
May support hormonal balance
Brassica vegetables, like broccoli, contain a plant compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which acts as a plant estrogen and may help balance hormones by regulating estrogen levels. I3C has also shown promise as a means of lessening the risk of oestrogen-induced breast and reproductive cancers in both men and women, although more studies are needed in this area.
Brassicas, like broccoli, appear to influence estrogen metabolism potentially shifting it to a more favorable composition.
May support the immune system
Being rich in sulfur, brassicas like broccoli may support gut health, and as a result, improve your defense against infection. This is because sulfur supports the production of glutathione which is important for maintaining the integrity of the gut lining, as well as supporting its repair. As a potent antioxidant, glutathione works throughout the body protecting cells from inflammatory damage.
Is broccoli safe for everyone?
For most of us, broccoli is a healthy option. However, if you have a thyroid issue you may be advised to minimize the number of brassica vegetables you eat. This is because these vegetables may interfere with the absorption of iodine which is needed for the production of thyroid hormones. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that you would need to eat a reasonable amount and consistently for this to be an issue.
Broccoli is a high-fiber food, which for most of us is highly beneficial – it supports the digestive process and provides a fuel source for the healthy bacteria which reside in our gut. However, for some people, high-fiber foods may cause bloating and gas, this is especially relevant for those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis.
If you are on blood thinning medication such as warfarin, your GP or dietitian may suggest you monitor the vitamin K foods, like broccoli, in your diet to ensure you eat similar amounts consistently. If in doubt, consult your GP before making any significant changes to what and how much you eat.