5 Reasons Why Brilliant Broccoli is a Top Nutrition Performer

[This post is by guest blogger, In Balance Consultant Karen Toews, RHN. You can connect with her over at her blog: realfoodmatters.ca]

What makes broccoli so brilliant – beyond its vibrant colour and old-world charm that veggie-savvy Italians introduced to the table? Let’s look at these five broccoli perks.

1. Broccoli is bursting with nutritional benefits:

  • excellent source of minerals: calcium, iron, zinc
  • vitamins A and C
  • high levels of both soluble and insoluble fiber (FAQ: soluble fibre dissolves in water and insoluble does not, both important with different functions and health benefits)

2. This member of the cruciferous family assists the body’s toxic waste-disposal system, on two fronts.

  • First, it contains chemicals that trigger the release of a protein that, in turn, releases toxin-fighting enzymes with the ability to either neutralize cancer-causing chemicals or at least assist the body in excreting them – giving broccoli a thumbs up in belonging to an anti-cancer diet. According to research at the John Hopkins University, even small amounts of fresh, raw broccoli sprouts (as compared to significantly larger amounts of mature broccoli) are a great source of cancer-protecting nutrients [1]. Sprouting seeds is not difficult, requiring minimal equipment. Give it a try, invite your kids to join the process and the tasting!
  • Also, broccoli contains components that may help prod cells to get rid of certain air pollutants like gasoline fumes and cigarette smoke. Further studies are needed to explain how extensive are the toxic-eliminating benefits, but jump-starting that potential is good reason to develop a love affair with broccoli (and its cruciferous buddies)[2]!

3. This is one very versatile vegetable:

  • A delicious classic when lightly steamed with a dash of sea salt and splash of fresh lemon juice
  • Partners well with peppers, cauliflower florets, and onions in the standby stir-fry
  • Delicious as is, served raw in a salad or as florets handy for snacking – which pairs well (to stabilize blood sugar levels) with a protein-dense dip. Check out the recipe below for a great broccoli-dipping snack!

Hummus with Herbs (adapted from the In Balance manual, OverweightKids in a Toothpick World)
2 – 2 1⁄2 cups cooked chickpeas
1⁄4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 – 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1⁄4 reserved chickpea liquid (or water)
2 – 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 – 2 tsp. ground cumin (to taste)
1 1⁄2 tsp. sea salt or Herbamare (to taste)
1⁄8 tsp. ground pepper
small handful of fresh parsley
2 – 3 Tbsp. fresh oregano leaves (optional, if available)

How to:

  1. Place all ingredients except for the fresh herbs into a food processor (or high-powered blender) fitted with the “S” blade and process until smooth and creamy. You will want to taste the hummus to see if it needs more lemon, tahini, garlic or seasonings.
  2. Add the fresh herbs and pulse until combined, but not completely pureed.
  3. Refrigerate until serving time: sprinkle with extra chopped herbs and if desired a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

 

4. Broccoli “looks” brilliant.

  • It is SO green. To keep its chlorophyll brilliance to give you its highest nutritional rewards, broccoli should not be overcooked: a metal or bamboo steamer is a worthwhile addition to your kitchen tools.
  • What’s not to love about a veggie that looks like trees? This bonus visual factor can be capitalized on, especially for the kiddos, by cutting the broccoli stems straight across so the “trees” can stand vertical on their plates.

5. Broccoli is available and economically friendly.

  • Broccoli bunches are now staples stocked year-round in supermarkets, and, in season, is offered on many vendors’ tables at the local farmer’s markets.
  • Prices can depend on weather and other environmental factors, whether it’s organic or not, and the season of the year. To get full value, both crowns and stems can be used – peeling off the tough outer stem layer if desired. A budgetary option is buying flash-frozen broccoli, which doesn’t always mean a big nutritional compromise [3].

Brilliant broccoli – give it center stage. It’s a star!

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[1] Scientists Show How Certain Vegetables Combat Cancer 
[2] Eating Broccoli May Give Harmful Chemicals the Boot
[3] Frozen Vegetables are Hot!


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