I’m sure it’s no surprise that broccoli is healthy. After all, there’s a reason we want our kids to love it.
While we know broccoli is good for us, what exactly are the health benefits of those mean, green florets in the produce section? For starters, broccoli is good for heart health. It may help with cancer prevention, help with cholesterol levels, and it has several vitamins and minerals that contribute to overall wellness.
Now, let’s unpack those health benefits. First, the basics. According to the USDA food database, 1 cup of chopped, cooked broccoli contains:
- 3.71 grams protein
- .64 grams fat
- 11 grams carbohydrates
- 5.1 grams fiber
- 2.17 grams sugar
- 457 milligrams potassium
- 64 milligrams sodium
- 62 milligrams calcium
- 101 milligrams vitamin C
- 2415 international units of vitamin A
2. Good for your eye health
Hate carrots? Eat broccoli instead. While carrots are constantly touted as good for your eye health because of their vitamin A content, delivering carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, cooked broccoli actually contains more.
3. Broccoli is basically a multivitamin
In addition to all that vitamin A, broccoli packs a healthy punch of vitamin C which can boost immunity and fight free radicals. It’s full of other vitamins and minerals as well, such as vitamin K (which promotes healthy bones and blood flow) and folate (which is linked to decreased rates of cancer, heart disease, and other health issues).
4. May help lower cholesterol
It doesn’t sound glamorous, but certain compounds of broccoli bind to bile acids in your stomach. The process is thought to help lower cholesterol levels by helping you better digest fat and preventing the acids from being released back into your bloodstream.
5. It’s a cancer-fighting veggie
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, that’s a fancy way of saying it’s part of a specific family of plants that are loaded with vitamins and minerals as well as phytonutrients that are anti-inflammatory (Brussels sprouts are also a cruciferous vegetable). And according to the National Cancer Institute, cruciferous vegetables might be cancer-fighting — specifically for prostate, colorectal, lung, and breast cancer.
Is broccoli good for weight loss?
Because broccoli is high in fiber and low in calories, it may help with weight loss. Now, that doesn’t mean you can just start mowing down on broccoli and watch the number on the scale decrease. But generally speaking, eating more fruits in vegetables overall can help you lose weight (especially when they have healthy amounts of fiber).
Are there risks in eating broccoli?
The vitamin K content may interfere with blood thinners. Additionally, those with thyroid issues may want to consult with a doctor before stocking up on broccoli. Eating too much increases fiber intake; take it too far and it could cause indigestion. IBS folks, beware.
Is broccoli better cooked or raw?
While the research is conflicting, most of it concludes that steaming broccoli is the best cooking method for retaining the nutrients. As long as you cook it properly and don’t cook it for too long, experts say it’s just as healthy to eat cooked broccoli as it is raw broccoli.
When steaming, you only need to cook it for a few minutes. When microwaving, a minute or two should do the trick. Some research suggests you should avoid boiling broccoli, saying it reduces its cancer-fighting properties.