9 Health Benefits of Broccoli, According to a Nutritionist

Broccoli offers disease-fighting nutrients that can decrease signs of aging, among other benefits.

You know that broccoli is good for you. It's probably one of the top foods that come to mind when you think about healthy eating. But you may not be aware of just how beneficial this cruciferous vegetable is for your health, or the various (and delicious) ways you can incorporate it into meals, snacks, and yes, even drinks. Here's a summary of this superfood's perks, and easy ways to eat more of it every week.

A Bounty of Nutrients

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), one medium stalk of raw broccoli contains just 45 calories, 8 grams (g) of carbohydrates, 0.5 g fat, and 4 grams of plant protein. Even so, broccoli is chock full of nutrients. The FDA said that one stalk provides 200% of the daily target for vitamin C, which helps your immune system and is needed for bone health.

A 2020 review in the journal Plants explained that broccoli also provides your body with chromium, a mineral that supports energy metabolism and blood sugar regulation, folate, a vitamin linked to memory and mood, and vitamins A, B6, B2, and E, as well as phosphorus, choline, manganese, copper, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and selenium.

This powerhouse veg also contains plant-based omega-3 fatty acids called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALAs, which are linked to anti-inflammation and improved circulation.

High in Fiber

The FDA says that a stalk of broccoli provides 2-3 grams of fiber, which supports digestive health and feeds beneficial bacteria in the gut tied to anti-inflammation, immunity, and mood.

And regularly consuming enough fiber helps support blood sugar and insulin regulation for steady, even energy.

Contains Water

A cup of raw broccoli also contains over two ounces of water. You need water to keep every organ in your body healthy—including your skin, eyes, nervous system, liver, kidneys, and heart.

The fiber and water combo you get from broccoli also boosts feelings of fullness to support healthy weight management.

May Help Prevent Cancer

Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous veggie family, which also includes cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and collard greens.

A 2015 review published in Current Pharmacology Reports said that this group of plants contains natural compounds linked to cancer prevention—thanks to their ability to neutralize carcinogens and prevent cancer cells from growing and spreading. Cruciferous veggies also support apoptosis, or the self-destruct sequence the body uses to kill off dysfunctional cells.

Heart Protection

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States. Research published in 2018 in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, protect the heart by reducing the damage to arteries that leads to hardening, which is often a precursor to a heart attack or stroke.

Linked to Brain Health

Some of the nutrients and natural bioactive substances in broccoli have been linked to healthy brain and nervous tissue function, plus protection against age-related cognitive decline as shown in research published in 2017 in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

Bone Strength

Broccoli contains several nutrients essential for bone formation and the prevention of bone density loss. These include vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium, in addition to copper, iron, zinc, vitamins A and C, and B vitamins, according to the Plants review. These nutrients are known to work in synergy to promote bone mass and bone strength.

Fights Inflammation

In addition to helping to fend off premature aging, the anti-inflammatory power of broccoli is tied to a reduced risk of chronic diseases. The inflammation-fighting compounds, which protect cells from DNA damage, may also help manage existing inflammatory conditions—including type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory skin conditions, bowel disease, and obesity. A study published in 2014 in The Journal of the Acadamy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that in women, a higher intake of cruciferous veggies helped lower levels of pro-inflammatory markers circulating in the blood.

Antioxidant Protection

Naturally occurring compounds in broccoli also act like detoxifiers, meaning they help to deactivate potentially damaging chemicals or shuttle them out of the body more quickly, according to research published in 2014 in Preventative Nutrition and Food Science.

Protective antioxidant compounds have been shown to counter skin damage caused by UV radiation. According to a 2022 review in the journal Nutrients, the veg's lutein and zeaxanthin protect the retina and eye lens, and both have been shown to reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two common eye disorders.

How To Eat More Broccoli

Enjoy raw broccoli by dipping it in hummus, seasoned tahini, or guacamole. Or finely chop or shred it and add it to garden salads or slaw. To retain the most nutrients in cooked broccoli, steam it, then drizzle with dairy-free extra virgin olive oil-based pesto, olive tapenade, or a savory nut butter sauce.

You can also lightly saute broccoli in extra virgin olive oil, oven roast it in avocado oil, and add it to any number of dishes, including stir frys, soups, stews, frittata, fajitas, and more.

Blend raw or frozen broccoli into smoothies, add finely chopped or pureed broccoli into baked goods, homemade pesto, and other sauces. Or try powdered broccoli powder in one of the newest trends: broccoli coffee. However, you incorporate it, eating more of this wonder veg is a smart way to upgrade your nutrient intake and help safeguard your health.

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