Broccoli is a part of the cruciferous family of vegetables which also include the cabbage, kale and cauliflower. This vegetable is one of the richest iron food sources in the vegetable world. In terms of R & D, Broccoli is considered to be very important due to its potential anticancer properties. The vegetable helps prevents cancer by providing the body with cancer preventing phytonutrients. Other than its cancer preventing properties and strong iron content broccoli nourishes the body with vitamin C and E as well as calcium. In taste, this vegetable is mildly bitter due the glucosinolates in it.
Rich in vitamins A, C, and K (among many other nutrients), this vegetable does more than its fair share of nutritional work. Vitamin A decreases oil production, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, and vitamin K can help prevent bruises.
Broccoli probably ranks number one on the list of all round anti-cancer vegetables, with broccoli being the subject to the highest amount of scientific and medical research. Broccoli is considered a major deterrent to lung, stomach, mouth, ovarian, breast, cervix, colon and prostate cancer. The reason broccoli is an, A grade anti cancer food is because it is rich in substances such as indoles, glucosinolates, beta carotene and vitamin C. It also contains high amounts of sulphorane, a substance that has been extensively looked into in laboratories. It is a phytonutrient that catalyses the formation of and function of ‘phase II’ enzymes within the body. These enzymes have been known to remove or destroy cancer-causing substances fror cells under lab conditions. It is speculated that these enzymes will bring about similar results within the human body.
Helps Prevent Anaemia
Since broccoli is high in beta carotene and iron, it may help prevent anemia especially in people who follow a vegetarian diet. Anaemia is said to bring about severe tiredness, lack of concentration as well as an impaired immune system.
Helps Prevent Infections
Children who have respiratory infections, measles, and gastroenteritis generally experience a significant reduction in their body’s levels of vitamin A. The beta carotene provided by broccoli is converted into vitamin A by the body when the body’s supplies run low. Thus in theory adding broccoli to a child’s diet helps prevent infections.
Helpful For Smokers
The phytonutrients called isothiocyanates in broccoli help reduce the carcinogenic effects of cigarette smoke on human lungs. Broccoli is also rich in vitamin C, a nutrient which is needed in large quantity by smokers to counter lung disease.
 Traditional Uses
Chinese medicinal practitioners recommend broccoli for the treatment of eye inflammations and short sightedness. Other than that, the vegetable’s cooling nature and slightly bitter taste are said to give it diuretic properties.
 Consumption and Storage
When buying, choose fresh, compact, green or purple sprouting broccoli. It can be stored in a refrigerator for two to three days, but should be ideally consumed fresh. An average 100 gm serving provides the body with 2 mg of the suggested 15 mg that women require. It also provides men with 25 per cent of their recommended daily intake. It can be steamed, boiled or stir fried. It can be generally used in soups, pastas or salads.
People suffering from thyroid problems should avoid having broccoli as the vegetable contains a natural substance called “goitrogens” which hinder the proper functioning of the thyroid glands.
- The Complete Guide, Healing Foods by Amanda Ursell, published by Dorling Kindersley