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Uses of Broccoli

Image of Broccoli

Broccoli is a plant of the mustard/cabbage family Brassicaceae (formerly Cruciferae). It is classified in the Italica cultivar group of the species Brassica oleracea. Broccoli has large flower heads, usually green in colour, arranged in a tree-like fashion on branches sprouting  from a thick, edible stalk. The mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Many varieties of broccoli are perennial. Broccoli most closely resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species.

Culinary uses

Broccoli is usually boiled or steamed, but may be eaten raw and has become popular as a raw vegetable in hors d'œuvre trays. Although boiling has been shown to reduce the levels of suspected anti-cancer compounds in broccoli, other preparation methods such as steaming, microwaving, lactic fermentation, and stir-frying have not been shown to reduce the presence of these compounds.

Nutritional and medicinal uses

Broccoli is high in vitamins C, K, and A, as well as dietary fibre; it also contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and small amounts of selenium. A single serving provides more than 30 mg of Vitamin C and a half-cup provides 52 mg of Vitamin C. The 3,3'-Diindolylmethane found in broccoli is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity. Broccoli also contains the compound glucoraphanin, which can be processed into an anti-cancer compound sulforaphane, though the benefits of broccoli are greatly reduced if the vegetable is boiled more than ten minutes. A high intake of broccoli has been found to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Broccoli consumption has also been shown to be beneficial in the prevention of heart  disease.