I recently heard my friend, physical therapist Alan Tyson, say that broccoli is his favorite pick for “green” food hands down. Alan talks to his athletes and clients about nutrition almost as much as he talks about their injuries. Here are Alan’s nine reasons we should be eating our broccoli:
1. Cancer Prevention Broccoli contains glucoraphanin, which the body processes into the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane. This compound rids the body of H. pylori, a bacterium found to highly increase the risk of gastric cancer. Furthermore, broccoli contains indole-3-carbinol, a powerful antioxidant compound and anti-carcinogen found to not only hinder the growth of breast, cervical and prostate cancer, but also boosts liver function. Broccoli shares these cancer fighting, immune boosting properties with other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
2. Cholesterol Reduction Like many whole foods, broccoli is packed with soluble fiber that draws cholesterol out of your body.
3. Reducing Allergy Reaction and Inflammation Broccoli is a particularly rich source of kaempferol and isothiocyanates, both anti-inflammatory phyto-nutrients. Research has shown the ability of kaempferol to lessen the impact of allergyrelated substances on our body. Broccoli even has appreciable amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, which are well known as an anti-inflammatory.
4. Powerful Antioxidant (Great for Recovery – who doesn’t need this!) Of all the cruciferous vegetables, broccoli stands out as the most concentrated source of vitamin C, plus the flavonoids necessary for vitamin C to recycle effectively. Also concentrated in broccoli are the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, other powerful antioxidants.
5. Bone Health (very important for all athletes especially females) Broccoli contains high levels of both calcium and vitamin K, both of which are important for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis.
6. Heart Health The anti-inflammatory properties of sulforaphane, one of the isothiocyanates (ITCs) in broccoli, may be able to prevent (or even reverse) some of the damage to blood vessel linings that can be caused by inflammation due to chronic blood sugar problems.
7. Detoxification Glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin and glucobrassicin are special phytonutrients that support all steps in the body’s detox process, including activation, neutralization and elimination of unwanted contaminants. These three are in the perfect combination in broccoli. Broccoli also contains isothiocyanates (which you read about in inflammation) which help control the detox process at a genetic level.
8. Diet Aid (Most Athletes don’t need this but fiber is critical for digestive health and recovery) Broccoli is a smart carb and is high in fiber, which aids in digestion, prevents constipation, maintains low blood sugar, and curbs overeating. Furthermore, a cup of broccoli has as much protein as a cup of rice or corn with half the calories.
9. Alkalizes Your Body Like many vegetables, broccoli helps keep your whole body less acidic, which has a host of health benefits. Your body has a natural pH level and it likes to be7.0 or slightly lower which aids many of the body functions.
Here is a healthy and tasty recipe from Eating Well for broccoli chowder: