This article is reviewed by an expert
Broccoli is one of the most popular vegetables in the world. Scientifically termed Brassica oleracea, it is a member of the Brassicaceae family, whose other members include cabbage, cauliflower, kale, etc. Owing to the several nutrients present in broccoli, it is also touted as the “Crown jewel of nutrition” (1).
Do you eat broccoli or want to start eating it? If yes, then keep reading to find out the health benefits of broccoli that make it one of the important vegetables.
The Many Health Benefits of Broccoli
Primary Benefits: Broccoli is rich in a biochemical compound called sulforaphane, which has anticarcinogenic properties. Several studies have also proven that broccoli can cause tumour suppression (2).
Secondary Benefits: As such, broccoli may help prevent and treat cancer (2).
Primary Benefits: Research has shown that broccoli helps reduce levels of liver enzymes, NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) scores and hepatic neoplasm formation (3).
Secondary Benefits: Broccoli can therefore help slow down fatty liver disease and boost liver health (3).
Primary Benefits: Broccoli has shown potent anti-inflammatory effects that help fight inflammation (9) (10).
Secondary Benefits: Inflammation is a sign of several chronic autoimmune conditions, such as arthritis and type 1 diabetes. Therefore, broccoli may help prevent many of these diseases.
Primary Benefits: Broccoli is rich in potent antioxidants and neuroprotective effects (5).
Secondary Benefits: Broccoli can therefore help prevent and manage Alzheimer’s disease (5).
Gastrointestinal Health (6)
Primary Benefits: Broccoli is not only rich in fibre but also antioxidants. Many studies have shown that chronic oxidative stress can delay the defecation process.
Secondary Benefits: Rich in both fibre and antioxidants, broccoli helps relieve constipation and improve overall gastrointestinal health.
Primary Benefits: Broccoli is rich in vitamin C, which helps the body produce collagen.
Secondary Benefits: It can, hence, help prevent skin damage, including wrinkling, as well as skin conditions like shingles and skin cancer (7) (8).
Primary Benefits: Apart from being rich in fibre, broccoli contains sulforaphane that helps manage blood sugar levels (11) (12).
Secondary Benefits: It can therefore help prevent and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Primary Benefits: Research suggests that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli can help lower the risk of atherosclerosis, a condition affecting the arteries in the heart. The credit for this effect mostly goes to the antioxidant content of broccoli, particularly sulforaphane (13).
Secondary Benefits: Broccoli is also rich in potassium which is known to relax the blood vessels and lower the risk of high blood pressure, further benefiting cardiovascular health (7) (14). The fibre content of broccoli also plays a major role in preventing cardiovascular diseases (15).
How to Eat Broccoli?
The florets, leaves and stems of broccoli are all edible and can be used in various recipes. It can be steamed, stir-fried, boiled or even prepared as a soup (16).
Side Effects of Broccoli (17)
Although broccoli is generally safe for consumption, some people might experience certain side effects.
- Excess consumption of broccoli by people who smoke may increase the risk of lung cancer.
- As broccoli helps lower blood pressure levels, excess consumption may result in hypotension.
- Excess consumption of broccoli may also increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
- Patients on blood thinners may experience bleeding due to the vitamin K content of broccoli.
- Broccoli may also alter iodine uptake and functioning of the thyroid gland and may cause hypothyroidism.
- Some people have also observed headaches, nasal congestion, wheezing and skin rashes after consuming broccoli.
If you experience any such adverse reactions after eating broccoli, immediately contact a doctor.
On a Final Note
Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables. Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, it helps prevent several diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, etc.
Disclaimer: This article is written from a health and lifestyle perspective.