Origins of Broccoli:
Broccoli, botanically-known as Brassica oleracea italica, is native to the Mediterranean. It is an edible green plant in the cabbage family, whose large flowering head is used as a vegetable. The word broccoli, from the Italian plural of broccolo, refers to “the flowering top of a cabbage” and is derived from the Latin word brachium, which means branch or arm, a reflection of its tree-like shape that features a compact head of florets attached by small stems to a larger stalk.
When first introduced in England, broccoli was referred to as “Italian asparagus. Broccoli was introduced to the United States in colonial times, popularized by Italian immigrants but did not become a popular foodstuff in the United States until the early 1920s.
The Varieties of Broccoli:
Its color can range from deep sage to dark green to purplish-green, depending upon the variety. One of the most popular types of broccoli sold in North America is known as Italian green, or Calabrese, named after the Italian province of Calabria where it first grew. Other vegetables related to broccoli are broccolini, a mix between broccoli and gai-lin (Chinese broccoli), and broccoflower, a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. Broccoli sprouts have also recently become popular as a result of research uncovering their high concentration of the anti-cancer phytonutrient, sulforaphane.
Why Broccoli is Considered a Real SuperFood?
Extensive research on broccoli, over the past few decades have converged in one critical area of medical science interest- cancer and its relationship with three main metabolic processes in the body, namely chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and inadequate detoxification. Scientists believe that foods that can help us prevent “overactive” inflammation, eliminate oxidative stress and assist the detox processes will be the answer to preventing and curing the deadly disease. Broccoli’s potent nutrient fusion provides these in addition to a host of other benefits, marking it in the elite list of superfoods.
16 HEALTHY BROCCOLI TRUTHS YOU DIDN’T KNOW:
- Controls Blood Pressure: Broccoli contains Potassium, a vital nutrient for stabilization of blood pressure, maintaining a healthy nervous system and neutralizing the harmful effects of sodium on blood pressure.
- Improves Digestive System: Broccoli contains both soluble and insoluble fibers, that cleanse the colon and digestive tract, expel toxins and cholesterol and keeps healthy blood sugar levels.
- Fights Depression. Broccoli replenishes your folic acid levels, deficiency of which can lead to depression, fatigue, poor memory, and mental problems like schizophrenia. Increasing blood circulation especially to the brain clears the melancholy and recharges you.
- For Healthy Bones: Broccoli contains calcium and vitamin K, both of which are essential for bone health and to prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin K is essential for the proper formation and full activation of the Gla proteins osteocalcin, which when fully carboxylated by vitamin K, allows for the binding of calcium to the bone matrix.
- Prevents Cancer: Broccoli has anti carcinogenic properties from phytochemicals, indoles and isothiocyanates that can remove estrogens and fight against breast, bladder, colon, and ovarian cancer.
- Fights Heart Disease: Vitamin B6 and folate contained in broccoli offer protection against heart disease and stroke. In addition the abundance of fibers, fatty acids and vitamins help regulate blood pressure and reduces bad LDL cholesterol. Vitamin K also reduces the risk of arterial calcification.
- Improves Immunity: Broccoli contains high levels of potent antioxidant vitamin C in addition to phytonutrients and phytochemicals, including sulforaphane, which helps boost the immune system, eradicates toxins and shields against various infections and viral attacks.
- For Healthy Vision: Broccoli contains vitamin A, zeaxanthin, and lutein, which prevent age-related degeneration macular degeneration, cataracts and boost retinal health.
- Prevents Skin Damage: Broccoli is rich in beta carotene, folates, vitamins B, C and E, which stimulates skin immunity and collagen production. A vital substance in Broccoli, Glucoraphanin, gets converted into sulforaphane that repairs skin damage, reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation and inflammation caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
- Helps Weight Loss: Presence of soluble and non soluble fibers helps lower cholesterol levels, while increasing satiety and bulking up stools for easy expulsion.
- For Hair Growth: Vitamins A, B6 and C stimulate the production of sebum, an oil based secretion that acts as a natural moisturizer and conditioner for scalp and hair whereas calcium strengthens the hair follicles. Nutrients in Broccoli can inhibit dihydrotesterone or DHT which is closely related to hair loss and thinning. Also contains Erucic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid for lustrous shine and hair volume.
- Nutrient Powerhouse: Broccoli is a good source of nutrients like soluble/insoluble fiber, vitamin A, B-complex, C, E, beta carotene, folate, omega 3 and 9 fatty acids, and minerals like potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese which are necessary for a healthy body.
- Supports Healthy Nervous System: Potassium strengthens your nervous system and assists in smooth functioning of the brain. Broccoli also increases blood circulation in the brain cells.
- Detoxifier: Broccoli contains glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin and glucobrassicin which are special nutrients that help to detoxify the waste components from the body. Insoluble fiber makes its way through the digestive system relatively intact, acting as a sort of sweeping compound and making the stool softer and bulkier.
- Prevents Anaemia: Broccoli contains loads of iron and folic acid that help in preventing anaemia.
- Anti-Inflammatory: Broccoli is a particularly rich source in a flavonoid called kaempferol, which helps to battle allergies and inflammation.
Use your creative chef skills to cook up quick hearty healthy broccoli dishes. You can toss some steamed broccoli with pasta in olive oil, and add some pine nuts, and spice it up with some salt and pepper. Or Purée cooked broccoli and cauliflower, with some condiments to make a simple, yet delicious, soup. Or add broccoli florets and chopped stalks to omelets. Get cooking or just eat them raw!!!