5 Reasons to Add Broccoli to Your Diet
Broccoli is a superfood lauded for its amazing superfood properties. But what are the health benefits of eating broccoli and why should you care? We explain beyond simply, "because it's good for you."
Broccoli used to get a bad rap - from presidents to preschoolers who proclaimed they didn't like it. Today, broccoli is more of a supporting star in the vegetable line-up, with kale still soaking up a lot of the spotlight. So just how exactly did broccoli rise to be one of today's superfoods? It's pretty simple really given the health benefits of broccoli in our increasingly health-conscious and information-filled world. And never before have there been so many ways to prepare this green vegetable. A quick search for broccoli recipes on Google turns up "about 20,400,000 results". With that many choices, there is bound to be something to please just about every palate - from family-friendly to gourmet cuisine.
Here are 5 reasons to add broccoli to the menu on a regular basis:
1. Broccoli fits in to just about any diet plan, with few exceptions.
Whether gluten-free, low-carb, weight loss, paleo, heart-healthy, diabetes-friendly or other, broccoli is an excellent choice. It packs a lot of nutrients into a single serving, and is low in calories and carbohydrate: a 1/2 cup of broccoli contains just 15 calories, and 3 g of carbohydrates. Nutrition experts consider broccoli a nutrient-dense food - it gives a lot of bang for the buck in terms of nutrients versus calories. Choosing more nutrient-dense foods over calorie-rich foods promotes health, and may help reduce weight.
2. It's a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber.
While that may sound like old news, scientists are learning more about the relationship between plant-based fiber and the type of bacteria in our gastrointestinal system. A relatively new area of research, emerging evidence on the "gut microbiome" suggests far-reaching effects on our overall health. Fiber also helps to promote the feeling of fullness. This can be especially helpful for anyone trying to lose or maintain weight. Both soluble and insoluble fiber contribute to this satiety, and have additional health benefits. For one, soluble fiber helps reduce cholesterol. Both types help with blood glucose control and maintaining regularity of bowel movements.
3. Simply put, vitamins and minerals.
Broccoli is loaded: it's an excellent source of Vitamin C (an antioxidant) and K for starters, with vitamin C content decreasing, and vitamin K availability increasing with cooking. Broccoli also provides Vitamin A and the B vitamin, folate; folate content decreases as cooking times increase. For these reasons, it's a good idea to mix it up in terms of preparation methods - eat well-washed broccoli raw and cooked. Broccoli also provides potassium, calcium and other important nutrients in smaller amounts.
4. Broccoli may lower the risk of some types of cancer.
Accumulating evidence from population studies suggests that regular consumption of broccoli, and other vegetables in the cruciferous family, is linked to reduced risk of pancreatic, prostate, ovarian and breast cancer. While these types of studies don't measure direct effects, they do help to identify areas for further investigation. Ongoing research is looking at specific compounds that occur in these vegetables and their effects on cancer development and growth. Because content of these compounds differs between the types of cruciferous vegetables, it's a good idea to choose a variety from this group on a regular basis - including broccoli - as well as cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts, bok choy, and more.
5. It can be tasty, versatile, and quick to prepare.
It doesn't get much easier than washing, cutting and dipping. Or tossing in a salad. Want it cooked? Steaming or boiling takes only a few minutes. Roasting is another great option, especially for the broccoli-adverse as it mellows out the flavor, and there are loads of recipes online. Pairing it with something really flavorful, like goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, or lemon is another way to go. Broccoli is a great pizza topper, omelet ingredient and so much more.
Broccoli is a superfood for many reasons. It's rich in nutrients and beneficial plant compounds, like antioxidants and other components. These compounds not only enhance health and well-being, they appear to reduce risk of chronic diseases too. Considering all the attributes of broccoli, it just might become a regular feature on more plates - after all, it happened to kale.
Authored by: Karen Lindell, MS, RDN
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