Broccoli Benefits

Introduction

If we were to make a list of the most unpopular foods on earth broccoli would absolutely be up there in the top ten (just behind haggis but ahead of cabbage). It is a food that divides opinion. What is not up for debate however is how incredibly healthy it is.

In this article we are going to list six health benefits of broccoli, and hopefully convert some of you readers into broccoli fans.

Just a quick note before we begin though. How you cook broccoli can make a difference as to how healthy it is. Boiling broccoli can cause a loss of certain nutrients. Microwaving, steaming, or stir-frying broccoli are the best ways to cook it. The following benefits are based on this method.

 “I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli”

George H W Bush Sr (March 22, 1990) [1]

Broccoli Is An Excellent Source of Vitamin C

It’s funny how some foods are associated with certain vitamins or minerals. Like, milk is the go-to source of calcium, and oranges are the go-to source of vitamin C. But if you compared 100g of broccoli to 100g of orange you might be surprised to learn that broccoli contains more vitamin C (107% of your RDA rather than 88%).

Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that may have many benefits, from improving blood flow to improving brain power (cognition) [2]. Vitamin C may not be able to prevent colds (a common misconception) but it can help to reduce the severity of your cold.

Which means that next time you get a cold instead of reaching for a nice cold glass of orange juice, you should instead reach for a big handful of broccoli!

Broccoli May Improve Cholesterol

High cholesterol is one of the leading causes of hypertension, strokes, and heart attacks, reducing triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (bad cholesterol) is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

A study in 2012 by Bahadoran et al looked at the effect of broccoli sprouts powder on serum triglycerides and LDL cholesterol in people suffering from Type II diabetes [3]. The study found that after four weeks triglyceride levels were significantly lowered, as was LDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) was significantly higher too.

Broccoli Is High In Vitamin K

While a deficiency in vitamin K is rare, it is not unheard of. Particularly in people suffering from eating disorders, or people suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases. Vitamin K is also very important for people who take anticoagulants.

Cooked broccoli is one of the best sources of vitamin K around, only beaten by kale, spinach, and collard greens.

Broccoli Can Help Support Normal Testosterone Levels In Men

Broccoli is what is known as a cruciferous vegetable, as are several other vegetables which have a poor reputation with kids! Kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and turnip are other examples of cruciferous vegetables.

Cruciferous vegetables have many health benefits, but one benefit that interests a lot of men is their effect on testosterone. There is an enzyme known as aromatase that is produced in adipose tissue (fat) that converts excess testosterone into estrogen.

This is an important function, but in some men, this can get out of hand. Leading to a big drop in testosterone and an increase in estrogen. If you’ve ever seen a man with “man boobs” it could very well be down to too much aromatase.

Cruciferous vegetables (particularly broccoli) are known to block aromatase production [4]. So, eating broccoli regularly could lead to a reduction in estrogen and a rise in testosterone. Considering how many men are currently suffering from low testosterone, broccoli could be a game-changer for millions of men.

Broccoli Is An Excellent Source of Sulforaphane

Sulforaphane is a chemical compound that is found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli. It may be the cause of the reduced cholesterol we mentioned earlier, and could potentially have even more important health benefits.

A lot of studies are currently looking at whether Sulforaphane can attack cancer cells, treat diabetes, and treat prostate cancer. There is currently not enough evidence to say for certain whether it does, but so far, the outlook is good [5].

Broccoli May Help You Maintain Good Eye Health

A common story told to children is that eating carrots can help them see in the dark. Any child who has tried this has realized that their parents were liars. However, if the parents had instead claimed broccoli could help with eyesight, they may have been a little closer to the truth.

A 2013 study on Lutein and Zeaxanthin (both contained within broccoli) found that diets high in both can reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration [6].

Conclusion

Broccoli has so many benefits that I’m surprised that you’re not eating right now! A reduction in bad cholesterol, the ability to reduce the awfulness of a cold, more testosterone (don’t worry ladies this will not affect you), and better eye health are all fantastic reasons to stir fry some broccoli today.

Add to this the potential benefits of sulforaphane, which could potentially reduce the risk of certain cancers! What a brilliant food. Just a pity about the taste!

Matthew Smith, BSc
Matthew Smith, BSc
Staff Writer at DietProbe
Matthew Smith is a qualified sports scientist and registered exercise professional. He's a fitness and nutrition enthusiast and has a background in coaching and personal training.
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