Broccoli is a vegetable that is notoriously hated by young children.
However, a very similar fact applies to adults – you either love it or you hate it.
However, considering the benefits it offers, you should literally bite into it.
Why is it so healthy and how to prepare it?
All information in one article!
Broccoli, a superfood from Tuscany
Broccoli ( Brassica oleracea var. italica ) is a vegetable belonging to the same plant family as cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi and cabbage. It has relatively large and edible flower heads, usually dark green in color; their consumption is becoming more and more popular. Because of its easy availability in the market, consumption of broccoli has increased by an incredible 910% in the last 30 years.
It is believed that broccoli comes from the territory of present-day Tuscany, where the civilization there cultivated its primitive predecessors. Over time, these cultivars underwent “selection” and in the 18th century broccoli spread to Europe, which was already very similar to the current one. However, its popularity grew rapidly only after the Second World War, when the production of frozen vegetables also increased.
What vitamins does broccoli contain?
Broccoli is a true superfood! It provides a considerable amount of potassium, lutein and zeaxanthin. It is also a rich source of vitamins C and K, which contain 100% of the recommended daily intake. It also contains specific compounds that contain sulfur, i.e. isothiocyanates, kaempferol and sulforaphane. These have many beneficial effects on human health, which you will learn about a few lines below.
Vitamin content in one cup of fresh, raw broccoli:
| Raw broccoli|
100 g (1 cup)
|recommended daily intake|
|Vitamin C||89.2 mg||98%|
|Niacin (vitamin B3)||0.64 mg||4.3%|
|Vitamin B6||0.18 mg||15%|
|Lutein + Zeaxanthin||1400 μg||17.5%|
|Vitamin E||0.78 mg||7.8%|
|Vitamin K||102 μg||107%|
Medicinal effects of broccoli or what is it good for?
Healthy intestines with broccoli
Broccoli is very beneficial for the human intestines. Recent studies have shown that people who consume it have no problem with constipation at all. In addition, it positively affects the intestinal microflora, reduces the amount of harmful bacteria and thus reduces the risk of intestinal inflammation.
Broccoli and inflammation in the body
Kaempferol, an antioxidant found in broccoli, has significant health benefits. It reduces inflammation and injury to the nerve tissues of the brain, for example, it reduces the extent of damage to brain cells after a stroke. Kaempferol also reduces inflammation in the body. In research, broccoli in the diet of patients was able to reduce their CRP by 48%.
Effects on cancer
Research also confirms that eating broccoli reduces the risk of lung, colon, rectal, breast, prostate, stomach and pancreatic cancer by 56%. The broccoli compound sulforaphane has strong anti-tumor activity because it inhibits the viability of cancer cells. It is particularly effective in blocking the growth of tumors of the cervix, ovaries and pancreas. It also shows significant effects in the treatment of T-cell leukemia cells.
A healthy oral cavity
Broccoli’s antioxidants sulforaphane and kaempferol support oral health, including gums, teeth and tongue. They prevent not only periodontal disease, but also cancer; especially in smokers, they act as important chemopreventive agents.
Dietary supplements versus broccoli
Due to the health benefits of broccoli, dietary supplements containing broccoli are commonly available on the market. However, research has shown that these supplements do not provide the necessary amount of nutrients, so they do not have the same effects as eating fresh or cooked broccoli.
Low-calorie broccoli and weight loss
If you are trying to lose weight, broccoli is the perfect food for you. It contains more protein than most vegetables, as well as fiber. It supports the absorption of food in the entire digestive system, induces a long-term feeling of satiety and thus helps to reduce weight.
Comparison of raw and cooked broccoli nutritional values:
| Raw broccoli|
| Broccoli boiled|
|Water||89.3 g||89.2 g|
|Energy value||34 kcal||35 calories|
|Proteins||2.82 g||2.38 g|
|Fats||0.37 g||0.41 g|
|Carbohydrates||6.64 g||7.18 g|
|Fiber||2.6 g||3.3 g|
|Sugars||1.7 g||1.39 g|
Types of broccoli: classic and sprouting
The most commonly cultivated broccoli is the so-called Calabrese , which looks exactly as you know it from stores and gardens. This is a very old species with fairly large heads that are around 15-20 centimeters in diameter. Depending on the specific variety, they are either bluish or green in color. Although the leaves of this broccoli are edible, they are not usually eaten because of their bitter taste.
This type of broccoli has evolved over many years of natural crossing. Due to its size and excellent nutritional values, it was selected for further commercial cultivation.
Classic broccoli goes well with zucchini, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, soybeans, chickpeas, chicken, turkey and beef. Also with fish, shrimp, oysters, parmesan, cheddar and goat cheeses.
Broccoli can last up to 7 days in the fridge before it starts to rot. Only 3 days at room temperature. You can then store it frozen for 10 months.
Lesser known sprouting broccoli
Another, currently quite often grown species, is sprouting broccoli. It has not only one head, but many smaller “heads” with thin stems. It is usually purple in color, but some varieties are green. Sprouted cultivars have a naturally milder and sweeter taste than traditional broccoli. They are also more fragile, which is why they are prepared/cooked much faster.
Pasta, rice, yeast dough, leeks, cabbage, chicory, garlic, lemons, butter, olive oil, balsamic and wine vinegar, tomatoes, peppers, chili, pancetta, prosciutto, sausages, bacon, fish, parmesan, pecorino and feta cheese – if you combine these ingredients with sprouting broccoli, you can’t go wrong!
It will keep well for 7 days at room temperature. In the fridge up to 2 weeks and frozen up to 1 year.
How to prepare broccoli to preserve vitamins?
Broccoli fresh, i.e. in its raw state, contains the most health-promoting nutrients. Their quantity is reduced by heat treatment, namely baking, frying and boiling in water. In contrast, steaming or cooking in a microwave oven preserves the nutrients in broccoli, or even slightly increases their content.
Nutrient, vitamin and mineral content of raw and cooked broccoli (100 g):
| Raw broccoli|
| Steamed broccoli|
|Calcium||47 mg||40 mg|
|Potassium||316 mg||293 mg|
|Zinc||0.41 mg||0.45 mg|
|Vitamin C||89.2 mg||64.9 mg|
|Niacin (vitamin B3)||0.64 mg||0.55 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.18 mg||0.2 mg|
|Choline||18.7 mg||40.1 mg|
|Lutein + Zeaxanthin||1400 μg||1080 μg|
|Vitamin E||0.78 mg||1.45 mg|
|Vitamin K||102 μg||141 μg|
Broccoli steamed in a microwave oven
Broccoli prepared in a microwave oven is steamed and therefore steamed. It thus retains all its nutrients and vitamins. Moreover, this preparation procedure is extremely quick and simple.
- Place the broccoli, cut into equal-sized pieces, in a microwave-safe bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a lid or a plate and cook for 4 minutes at 800 W.
- Season the soft broccoli (steamed) with salt or spread with butter and serve.
Broccoli baked in the oven
Roasted broccoli loses a lot of its nutrients, but it still tastes great! It is suitable as a healthy side dish to steaks or stewed meat, preferably in combination with garlic or herb dip.
Baked broccoli – basic procedure:
- Wash the broccoli properly, for a really thorough cleaning, divide it into several parts.
- Cut the clean broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a tray with baking paper.
- Soak the individual pieces of broccoli in olive oil (for better handling, pour the oil into a bowl).
- Then lay them out, evenly and in one layer, on baking paper. Lightly salt and place in the oven.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the broccoli pieces are golden around the edges. Serve warm.
How to season broccoli before baking? Various alternatives:
- drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with lemon zest
- sprinkle with a pinch of sweet red pepper and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese
- brush with soy sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds
- rub with pressed garlic and drizzle with lemon juice
- sprinkle with fresh aromatic herbs such as coriander, parsley and thyme
- drizzle with dry white wine and lightly sprinkle with grated apple
What about broccoli for lunch? Recipes, tips:
- Broccoli soup is a traditional dish, which is not only quick but also simple and can be prepared even by a complete beginner. It is also popular mainly because it is extremely cheap. Get to know the top recipes for broccoli cream aka soup and you will find out that you really don’t need a lot of ingredients to prepare it.
- Broccoli is very tasty when baked. Get inspired by baked broccoli in several ways and try traditional and non-traditional recipes. For example, the one with ham and cheese, or the lesser-known broccoli pudding with potatoes and chicken.
- As already mentioned above, broccoli is a low-calorie and diet food, so it is more than suitable for any salads. It tastes great in pasta, vegetable, chickpea or tuna salads. Check out the best broccoli salad recipes and try the one that interests you the most.
- Broccoli is also an ingredient that can be substituted for meat. It is therefore very popular in vegetarian and vegan dishes. Try some of the recipes for patties aka broccoli meatballs , they are not only healthy, but also delicious and will appeal even to “carnivores”.
- If you are a fan of healthy food, you will surely be pleased that you can also make a spread from broccoli. Your celebrations no longer have to be full of fatty, high-calorie and unhealthy canapés and sandwiches. Try to prepare healthy broccoli spreads , not only you, but also your guests will be delighted!
Growing broccoli and when is it overripe?
Broccoli is a cool weather crop, meaning it doesn’t thrive in warm summer weather. It grows best at temperatures up to 25 °C. For that reason, it is planted very early, for example already at the end of April. It is usually ready for harvesting in 2 months, i.e. at the beginning of July. However, it is possible to plant broccoli in August and harvest it in November, just before the first frost.
In general, broccoli should be harvested before the yellow buds (flowers) bloom on the head. Although they are edible, they have a strong nutty taste, i.e. quite bitter. However, some gourmets consider these flowers very tasty and even call them an absolute delicacy.
So far, no way to harvest broccoli using machines has been invented. Even today, it has to be harvested by hand.