Broccoli – A Delicious Super-Food!
Broccoli is one of the easiest vegetables to find in supermarkets all across our country. While broccoli has gotten a bad reputation as being one of the most dreaded vegetables on the dinner plate for a child, there are actually many different delicious ways to prepare the vegetable with the alluring green stalk and bushy top.
Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family; the name broccoli is derived from the Italian word broccolo, meaning “The flowering top of a cabbage.” Broccoli provides a high amount of vitamin C, which aids iron absorption in the body, prevents the development of cataracts, and also eases the symptoms of the common cold. One cup of cooked broccoli has as much vitamin C as an orange and one third of a pound has more vitamin C than two and one-half pounds of oranges. A serving of one-half cup cooked broccoli offers 58.2 mg while the raw stores 41 mg. A cup of broccoli actually fulfills your daily vitamin C requirement.
Across the nutrition scale, broccoli contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Folic acid is abundant in broccoli with one-half cup cooked registering 39 mcg and raw 31.2 mcg. Folic Acid helps women sustain normal tissue growth and is often used as a supplement when taking birth control pills and during pregnancies. The potassium in broccoli aids those battling high blood pressure. The vegetable is also fiber-rich, which helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
Frozen broccoli contains about 35% more beta carotene than the fresh because the frozen packages consist mainly of the florets. Most of the beta carotene is stored in the florets. But don’t jump too quickly. There’s plenty of nutrition in those stems, such as extra calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C. The darker colors of the florets, such as blue green, or purplish green contain more beta carotene and vitamin C than those with lighter greens. Don’t discard the stem of the broccoli! Have you have ever noticed the inside of the stem is white in color? The white part of the broccoli is very high in phytochemicals that are very beneficial to our bodies.
In recent years, broccoli has made the headlines regarding three components found in the vegetable. For instance, indole-3-carbinol has captured the attention of those looking to prevent hormone-related cancers, such as breast- and prostate cancer. I3C promotes “good” hormones, while working against destructive ones. Broccoli has a particularly powerful type of sulforaphane, which helps to increase the level of enzymes that block cancer, while the beta-carotene in broccoli transforms into vitamin A within the body, providing an effective antioxidant that destroys free radicals. It appears that broccoli contains the necessary ingredients to help switch ON genes that prevent cancer development, and help switch OFF other ones that help it spread.
For the best flavor and nutritional benefit, cook broccoli soon after purchase. Any vegetable that sits around for a week, even if refrigerated, will lose considerable vitamin value along with flavor. Wash broccoli thoroughly just before using, and buy organic broccoli if at all possible. Trim tough portions of the stem off about one inch from the bottom. How you cut the broccoli prior to cooking is a matter of preference and the nature of the dish you are planning.
For salads and stir-fries, cut the broccoli into bite size pieces. Include the stems, too. Many classic cookbooks will direct the cook to discard the leaves and peel the stems, but think of all the nutrients and fiber you would lose. Keep those stems intact, and simply chop them or cut them into julienne strips to take advantage of their valuable vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
Take care not to overcook broccoli or your kitchen will be engulfed with the odor of rotten eggs from the sulphur compounds that include ammonia and hydrogen sulfide released with long cooking. Waterless cookware is a fabulous way to cook broccoli for maximum retention of vitamins and nutrients..
For a delicious stir-fry, chop broccoli into bite-size florets, pre-heat skillet or wok and stir-fry for a few minutes in coconut oil. Flavor with Bragg Liquid Aminos or tamari, lemon or lime juice, a touch of your favorite vinegar, or with seasonings and herbs of your choice.
When Eating Raw Broccoli
Chop or dice broccoli florets and stems into your salad bowl along with crisp romaine lettuce and an array of fresh vegetables. Or include broccoli florets as an appetizer, and serve along with your favorite dip, such as hummus or babaganush (roasted eggplant dip). You can also enjoy a broccoli slaw by shredding the stems with the Kitchen Cutter and combining them with shredded carrots and other veggies of your choice; add a little extra virgin olive oil, some lemon or lime juice, and season to taste.
Add broccoli to a blended raw soup preparation for a vitamin C boost. Toss chopped broccoli stems into a blended green drink with water, kale, celery, and cucumber, and sweeten with a chopped apple. What is the healthier than a beautify head of broccoli? Broccoli sprouts! Small quantities of fresh broccoli sprouts contain as much cancer protection as larger amounts of the mature vegetable sold in food markets. Just 5 grams (0.17 ounces) of sprouts contain concentrations of the compound glucoraphanin (a precursor to sulforaphane) equal to that found in 150 grams (5.2 ounces) of mature broccoli. You can grow broccoli sprouts at home quite easily and inexpensively, and add them to a salad for a super-easy, super-food! Broccoli is an amazing super-food, and is a great example of how whole foods prepared correctly can help you achieve optimal health.