June 16, 2024
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When it comes to cruciferous veggies, the health halo tends to glow brightest around kale and cauliflower. (Rice, pizza crust, potatoes … what hasn’t cauliflower been transformed into at this point?) While it’s true that all cruciferous vegetables are full of health benefits, it’s easy to forget about the tried-and-true ones, like broccoli.

Sure, as a kid you may have pushed broccoli around on your plate or attempted to feed it to the dog under the table. But as an adult, if you’re making an effort to eat more veggies, broccoli is a great one to prioritize. Not only is this veg packed with nutritional value, but there are lots of ways to make it taste great (beyond just covering it in a blanket of cheese). Skeptical? Take it from registered dietitians. Here’s what we know about broccoli nutrition.

Broccoli nutrition facts

Before we get into the specific health benefits, here’s a run-down of the nutrients in a one-cup serving of raw broccoli, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

  • Calories: 30 kcal
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Calcium: 43 mg
  • Magnesium: 19 mg
  • Phosphorus: 60 mg
  • Potassium: 288 mg
  • Selenium: 2 µg
  • Vitamin C:  81 mg
  • Folate: 57 µg
  • Choline: 17 mg
  • Vitamin A: 28 µg
  • Carotene, beta: 329 µg
  • Vitamin A: 567 IU
  • Lutein + zeaxanthin: 1270 µg
  • Vitamin K: 93 µg

Next, find out how these nutrients translate into total-body benefits.

8 health benefits of broccoli

1. Eating broccoli is good for your bones

One benefit to consuming broccoli that registered dietitian and Good For Your Gut author Desiree Nielsen, RD, points out right away is that it’s good for bone health. This, she says, is because it’s so high in calcium. “Bioavailability of calcium is higher in broccoli than spinach and may even be higher than some dairy products, with a bioavailability of around 50 percent,” she says.

In addition to helping keep bones strong, Nielsen says calcium plays an important role in supporting the central nervous system. “Calcium is critical for proper muscle contraction and even the function of your nervous system so the body tightly regulates calcium levels in the bloodstream,” she says. “If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, your body will rob your bones to ensure there is enough calcium in circulation.”

Related: 20 Calcium-Rich Foods That Are Good for Your Bones

2. It’s good for your gut

Another perk to adding broccoli to your plate is that it supports digestive health. “Broccoli is a rich source of both insoluble and soluble fiber,” registered dietitian Erica Ingraham, RD, says. She explains that insoluble fiber supports regular bowel movements while soluble fiber helps reduce LDL cholesterol levels and keeps blood sugar levels balanced. In other words, each fiber type is important and fiber has both.

3. Broccoli supports a healthy immune system

Both experts point out that broccoli contains vitamin C, an important nutrient for immune health. But the importance of vitamin C doesn’t just stop at protecting against sickness. “Vitamin C is essential for many more functions in the body including cellular growth and repair, iron absorption, wound healing, as well as supporting bones, teeth, and joints,” Ingraham says.

Related: 15 Foods That Help Support the Immune System

4. It’s a good source of vitamin K

Nielsen says that another reason why broccoli helps support the immune system is that it contains vitamin K. “Research also suggests that Vitamin K is important for fostering healthy inflammatory responses in the immune system,” she says. She adds that another reason why vitamin K is important is that it acts as a coenzyme to ensure appropriate blood clotting and also plays a role in building strong bones.

5. Eating broccoli regularly can help protect against chronic inflammation

Ingraham says that one benefit of broccoli you might not be aware of just by looking at the nutrient breakdown is that it’s high in antioxidants, specifically one called sulforaphane. “This antioxidant is associated with health benefits such as reducing inflammation,” she says. Antioxidants are important for protecting against inflammation, the root of chronic diseases and cancers.

6. Broccoli is good for your heart

While the antioxidants in broccoli certainly support heart health, Ingraham says there’s another reason why the veg is good for your ticker: It contains potassium. Potassium is important for cardiovascular health because it literally keeps the heart beating. It helps other muscles throughout the body move efficiently too.

Related: 25 Foods That Are Good for Your Heart

7. Broccoli is good for your skin

Even though broccoli is clearly full of many nutrients, it’s primarily made of water. This helps keep skin hydrated. Additionally, Nielsen says that another reason why broccoli is good for skin health is because of its vitamin C content. This, she says, helps support collagen absorption and production, and collagen is what keeps wrinkles from forming as quickly.

8. It’s good for your eyes

Broccoli has lutein and zeaxanthin, two key nutrients for eye health. In fact, it’s one of the major sources of these nutrients. So if you want to do what you can to protect your vision well into old age, it’s worth it to regularly fill up on the cruciferous veg.

How to incorporate broccoli into your diet

Like other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli can be cooked up in many different ways as well as eaten raw. It can be steamed, roasted, baked, and even grilled. While cooking vegetables does reduce the nutrient density a little, the dietitians say to rest assured that your cooked broccoli is still nutrient-rich.

If you aren’t used to eating foods high in fiber, Ingraham suggests cooking your broccoli instead of eating it raw. This, she says, makes it easier to digest, making symptoms like gas and bloating less likely.

Broccoli can be incorporated into salads, pasta dishes, stir-fries, and even pureed into soup. Since it has a mild taste, it’s extremely versatile. Whatever savory dish you’re cooking up, chances are that broccoli can easily be integrated into it. Just think about all the ways your body will benefit!

Next up, here are more than 60 recipe ideas for cooking with broccoli.



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