Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes cabbage, cauliflower and cress among other things. All cruciferous vegetables come highly recommended for their nutritional value, but none more so than broccoli. You could do worse than including more of this green vegetable in your diet, and this article will show you why.
To get an idea of broccoli's nutritional content, have a look at this list: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Folic Acid, Manganese, Dietary fiber, Potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B5, Magnesium, Calcium, Choline, Vitamin B1, Iron and Selenium.
This list of 16 different nutrients doesn’t even cover everything that broccoli contains! Pound for pound, broccoli has one of the highest proportions of nutrients of any vegetable. But in order to understand just what makes broccoli good for us, it’s important to know what some of these nutrients do. Here is some information about the nutrients broccoli is most rich in.
Vitamin C: 1 cup of broccoli contains your full daily requirement of vitamin C. Vitamin C is necessary for the proper function of a number of enzymes in the body. It's also an antioxidant, supports the immune system, and is a natural antihistamine.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is important to healthy vision, the immune system and for maintaining good skin condition. It is especially important for pregnant women to maintain sufficient, though (importantly) not excess, levels of vitamin A.
Vitamin K: This vitamin is important for blood coagulation: the body's natural protection against excess blood loss through clotting. It also helps to maintain healthy bones.
Folic Acid: Folic acid is particularly important for pregnant women, and is known to reduce the rate of birth defects. It's also important for psychological health and is thought to help in the prevention of strokes.
To get the most out of your broccoli, it’s best not to overcook it as this will kill much of its nutritional value. Avoiding this is easy: simply make sure that your broccoli is still crunchy when you serve it. If you usually boil your broccoli, do it for only 2 or 3 minutes. Alternatively, you can lightly steam or fry your broccoli, or eat it raw with a dip like hummus.
However you choose to cook your broccoli, eating plenty of it is an excellent way to improve your diet and provide your body with the nutrition that it needs.