Health Benefits of Broccoli: Nutritional Value Beyond Vitamins
Not only is lightly steamed broccoli tasty, it is also extremely good for you. Broccoli – whether eaten steamed or raw – offers a wide array of health benefits and great nutritional value to those who incorporate this super healthy vegetable into their diets. Not only is raw broccoli loaded with vitamins C, K and B9, it is also a very good dietary source of carotene, potassium and sulforaphane. In this article, we delve into the proven health benefits of broccoli in detail.
Benefits for the Skin
Eating broccoli is a great way to give your skin a health boost. Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C, with one cup of chopped raw broccoli providing a whopping 135% of the daily value for vitamin C. Researchers have associated a low intake of vitamin C with dry and wrinkled skin. The ability of foods rich in vitamin C, such as broccoli, to prevent wrinkles is linked to the role vitamin C plays in collagen production and in the antioxidant system of the body. In addition to vitamin C, broccoli delivers several other nutrients that offer benefits for the skin: carotene and coenzyme Q10 provide additional antioxidant protection, while alpha lipoic acid helps prevent the hardening of collagen.
Broccoli Fights Cancer
Research suggests that eating broccoli may prevent estrogen from stimulating the growth of breast cancer cells. It might also help reduce the risk of lung and colon cancers in humans, thanks to the high amounts of sulforaphane it provides. Sulforaphane, a natural compound with a myriad of positive health effects, has been shown to inhibit the development of lung cancer tumors and intestinal polyps in animals (colon cancer usually begins as an intestinal polyp).
The mechanisms by which broccoli fights cancer are wide and varied. For instance, the health benefiting compounds in broccoli can reduce DNA mutation, eliminate carcinogenic toxins, induce apoptosis in cancer cells, help prevent benign growths from turning into malignant tumors, and help prevent the spread of cancer within the body.
Broccoli sprouts are a particularly rich source of cancer-fighting compounds, but also broccoli florets provide significant amounts. If you prefer broccoli sprouts, head to a health food store to buy these nutritional gems, or grow your own at home using organic broccoli seeds. Fresh broccoli sprouts make a tasty addition to salads, cold soups, and sandwiches.
If you're more into broccoli florets, here's a tip: avoid cooking broccoli for an excessive amount of time. Eating broccoli raw or lightly steamed is the best way to reap the health benefits of broccoli. Eating raw crushed broccoli has been shown to result in better absorption of the cancer-fighting compounds in broccoli.
Due to its superior nutritional value, broccoli is also one of the best foods to eat if you are looking to improve your cardiovascular health and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. A group of scientists from Britain found that sulforaphane in broccoli can activate Nrf2, a protective protein that is typically inactive in parts of the arteries prone to clogging. The high amounts of vitamin K, coenzyme Q10, fiber, and potassium found in broccoli may also contribute to the cardio-protective effects of broccoli.
Broccoli Protects from Bruising
Supercharged with both vitamin C and vitamin K, broccoli is often included in anti-bruising diets. Vitamin K is required for normal blood clotting, and a lack of vitamin K in the diet has been linked to increased bruising. Vitamin C, in turn, helps fight excessive bruising of the skin by strengthening the small blood vessels.
Weight Loss Effects
Broccoli is no doubt one of the best foods for people who are looking to lose weight. Broccoli is very low in calories and contains less than 1% fat. What's more, vitamin C – which is abundant in raw and lightly steamed broccoli – has been shown to enhance the body's fat burning capabilities during a workout. A study from Arizona State University found that folks with low blood concentrations of vitamin C burned 25 percent less fat during a 60-minute walking session on a treadmill than people with adequate levels of vitamin C. The body uses vitamin C to make carnitine, a compound that encourages the body to turn fat into fuel, rather than store it as body fat.
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