7 powerful reasons to eat more of nature’s tiny trees of health
When Italian horticulturalists developed broccoli from cabbage, they probably didn’t realize what a powerful treat they were creating.
We like to think of broccoli as a multi-purpose vegetable, because it improves your health in so many areas.
From fighting cancer and improving eyesight, to helping your heart and detoxing your body, broccoli does it all.
Today, let’s take a closer look at one of our favorite vegetables.
7 Powerful Reasons to Eat Broccoli
1) It Cleans Out Your Cholesterol
Broccoli is very high in soluble fiber.
Soluble fiber is one of the most important nutrients you can eat. It aids digestion, by helping the gut process food. It also feeds the beneficial bacteria that live in the microbiome in your gut.
But broccoli is so high in soluble fiber, it performs another trick. That fiber can actually bind to cholesterol in your gut, before it can be absorbed into your blood, helping your body keep levels low. Forget about expensive cholesterol drugs—lower one of your worst risk factors for heart disease with a hearty helping of broccoli!
2) These Tiny Trees Strengthen Your Heart
Broccoli is high in sulforaphane, a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient. Sulforaphane has been shown to reduce and reverse damage done to your blood vessel linings. The damage is often caused by inflammation from eating excess sugar—broccoli cleans that right up.
Broccoli is also high in B vitamins, which counteract homocysteine. Red meat is high in homocysteine, and it’s the amino acid most linked to inflammation and coronary heart disease. The B vitamins in broccoli help to keep your homocysteine levels low, and your heart healthy.
3) The Green Stalk is Good for Your Eyes
Broccoli is high in lutein—a nutrient well studied for improving eye health. It also contains zeaxanthin, another antioxidant that is great for your eyes.
Lutein and zeaxanthin have both been shown to prevent cataracts and fight macular degeneration. If you want to keep your eyes 20/20 or close to it, it’s hard to find a better food than broccoli.
4) This Green Veggie is a Born Cancer-Fighter
All cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are chock-full of antioxidants, which bind to free radicals and help prevent cell damage associated with cancer.
But, again, broccoli goes one step further.
Broccoli is full of isothiocyanates, chemicals that act as antioxidants themselves, but also boost detoxifying enzymes.
Broccoli has been shown to reduce stomach and intestinal cancers. And it’s even been shown to lower estrogen levels, which may help prevent breast cancer.
5) It Has a Potent Trio of Toxin Removers
Beyond acting as a powerful antioxidant, broccoli helps your body deal with other contaminants as well.
It’s all thanks to a trio of phytochemicals—glucoraphanin, gluconasturtin, and glucobrassicin. These three phytochemicals bond to all manner of contaminants, and help the body recognize them, contain them, and eliminate them. The sprouts of broccoli are especially full of these beneficial compounds, so make sure you don’t skimp on the good stuff.
6) Broccoli is a Natural at Fighting Arthritis
The anti-inflammatory nutrients in broccoli like sulforaphane and omega-3 fatty acids—the same you find in fish oil—can perform miracles for your joints.
A diet high in broccoli is one of the best ways to naturally combat the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. Not to mention all the other health benefits you get when you tamp down on inflammation, like the aforementioned heart health and anti-cancer action.
7) It’s Nature’s Green Multivitamin
Did you know that broccoli is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C? Or that it’s high in Vitamin K and calcium, both great for bone health? Or that broccoli is surprisingly rich in protein?
In fact, a serving of broccoli has as much protein as a cup of rice, with far fewer calories.
The truth is, broccoli is so well-balanced, and so full of nutrients, you could get along pretty well eating nothing but these green stalks. There aren’t many foods you can say that about.
Reap the Benefits by Eating It Right
Of course, how you prepare broccoli can greatly affect how healthy it is.
For instance, if you boil broccoli to cook it, you leach out nearly all the nutrients that make it so great.
But if you eat too much raw broccoli, you’re likely to irritate your digestive system.
Steaming broccoli is a great way to eat it—keeping almost all nutrients intact, but making it much easier on your stomach.
A quick five-minute trip to the pan for a stir-fry also helps maintain the nutritional value, while making it very palatable.
Just be sure not to undo the good of broccoli with poor accompaniments. Drowned in cheese, for instance, you’re taking in more cholesterol than broccoli can eliminate.
Served with a dash of soy sauce, or some olive oil and vinegar in a salad, your broccoli will taste great, and you won’t be piling unhealthy foods with this nutritional one.
This green veggie is so full of healthy nutrients—and damaging chemicals are so absent—that you can’t have too much of the stuff.
Eat broccoli several times every week and get all these benefits? Sign us up.
…and take good care.
- Szalay, Jessie. Broccoli: Health Benefits, Risks, & Nutrition Facts. Live Science. Published Oct 1, 2014. Accessed Dec 19, 2016.
- 7 Health Benefits of Broccoli. The Times of India. Published May 5, 2015. Accessed Dec 19, 2016.
Disclaimer: Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Last Updated: July 28, 2020
Originally Published: January 11, 2017