The Healthiest Vegetable on Earth
Table of Contents
|2||Nutrition Facts Of Broccoli||3|
|3||10 Amazing Fun Facts of Broccoli||5|
|4||Locations Where the Broccoli Grows||7|
|5||How to Grow and Care Broccoli||8|
|6||How to take care of Broccoli plants||11|
|7||Health Benefits of Broccoli||14|
|8||Possible health risks of using Broccoli||19|
|9||Tips for cooking Broccoli||19|
Broccoli is probably the most hated by kids’ yet healthiest vegetable on planet earth. Broccoli is an Italian word of ‘broccolo’ which means the flowering crest of a cabbage (Ravi T.T, 2019). It belonged to the cabbage family of vegetables which also include turnips, rutabaga, and cauliflower along with other vegetables. If you believe in eating healthier foods, Broccoli should be at the top of the list. There is little doubt about the health benefits of Broccoli be it cancer or the defeating aging effects, this vegetable has something to offer for all type and age group of people.
Nutrition Facts of Broccoli
Broccoli contains the perfect combination of nutrition that makes it super healthy. One cup or 91 grams raw Broccoli has around 90% water, 7 % carbs and the remaining portion are made up of protein. It contains absolutely no harmful fats which make it just perfect for all types of people. 1 cup (91 Grams) of Broccoli contains the following nutrition (Adda, 2019). Table 1
Table1: Nutrition facts of Broccoli per serving (91 grams).
Carbs of this healthy plant consist of two constituents i.e. the fiber and sugars. Sugars mainly consist of glucose, sucrose and the fructose and small amounts of lactose and maltose as well. The total amount of this sugar is on the lower side as compared to other vegetables & fruits and considered in a healthy range. In one cup of Broccoli, the amount of carbs is only 3.5 grams (Adda, 2019).
Using one cup of Broccoli daily provides about 10% or 2.4 grams of fiber to our body daily needs. Most of the healthy foods contain a significant amount of fiber in it like that of Broccoli. Fiber resists the different type of diseases and found to be helpful in weight loss as well. So what you are waiting for? Start eating this super healthy food from today onward and keep yourself smart and healthy.
Broccoli is rich in almost all types of vitamins including vitamin-C, vitamin-B12 or 6, vitamin A and vitamin-K. Table 2 shows all the vitamins present in Broccoli per 91 grams serving (Ravi T.T, 2019).
Table2: Vitamin constituents of Broccoli per serving (91grams).
10 Amazing Fun Facts of Broccoli
- The origin of Broccoli is neither Asia nor Africa as considered. Broccoli originated in Italy near the Mediterranean Sea and spread to other parts of Europe and Asia later on. It is well documented that Broccoli is being used as a vegetable by the Romans since the 6th century B.C (Leslie, 2018).
- Do you wonder who brought this great vegetable to the shore of America? It was Thomas Jefferson ( the person who is credited for making cheese and macaroni for the first time) who brought Broccoli seeds from Italy and planted them in his very own garden not sooner than 1767 (Emily, 2019). With this successful cultivation in his garden, he was able to spread it in other parts of the USA. So whenever you eat this vegetable in America, thanks to this guy as well for these great services.
- The name of Broccoli was misinterpreted as the Italian asparagus due to its origin in this country finally finding of its real name Broccoli later on. Today, it is known by this name in most of the countries (Emily, 2019).
- Today, Broccoli mostly grows in eastern and southern Asia and some parts of America. China is the single largest grower of this vegetable. The worldwide production of Broccoli exceeds 25 million tons which make it among the most eaten vegetables on planet earth (Leslie, 2018).
- Broccoli is rich in Vitamin C. If you have a deficiency of Vitamin C and don’t want to eat fruit, Broccoli is a blessing for you. One cup of this plant contains vitamin C more than one orange. Interestingly, one cup of chopped Broccoli is enough to meet the whole day requirements of Vitamin C (Leslie, 2018).
- Broccoli is unique when it comes to the amount and nature of fiber in it. It contains a good amount of soluble as well as insoluble fiber content. Our body remains in search of both types of fiber for better growth. Thank God, Broccoli can fulfill this need single-handedly as one cup of chopped Broccoli contains around 2.4 grams of fiber (Adda, 2019).
- Broccoli is rich in Vitamin A as well. This is the same vitamin which helps in fighting cancer and other diseases. If you love to care your skin, this green plant is a blessing as it can make your skin more glowing (Leslie, 2018).
- Farmer president of America, the Jorge W. Bush once angered the innocent farmers by stating “I hate Broccoli since my childhood but my mother always made me eat this vegetable. Now being as the president, I have no compulsion to eat it anymore”. The angry Farmers responded with gifting tons of Broccoli to Mr. President (Emily, 2019).
- The golden state of the USA, California is responsible for more than 90% of the total production within the USA (Leslie, 2018). The same state is responsible for the highest orange production within the USA as well. Perhaps it is better to rename this state the “Broccoli state” only if kids don’t mind it.
- Do you know on average one American consumes over 4 pounds of Broccoli per year? But one particular person named as Tom Landers holds the record for eating 1 pound of Broccoli in only 92 seconds. With this rate, one can eat around 40 pounds Broccoli in 1 hour (Leslie, 2018).
Locations Where the Broccoli Grows
Broccoli grows in cool weather and considered as the sun-loving plant. It is native to the Mediterranean region especially Italy. It was introduced in England in 1720 and in the USA it was introduced in 1767 (Leslie, 2018).Today, Broccoli is a popular vegetable among the farmers in China, India, USA, and Italy. To grow Broccoli sandy types of soil is considered as the right choice. The PH of soil should be slightly Acidic to Neutral in nature (Growing Broccoli, 2018).
Countries where the temperature remains cool during fall and winter season, Broccoli grows extensively. The top growers of Broccoli (2016) are given in Table 3.
|Sr. #||Country||Production in million tons|
Table3: Top producer countries of Broccoli all over the world.
How to Grow and Care Broccoli
Broccoli is the best source for vitamins, fats free energy sources and different minerals like potassium and iron. Seeing these great health benefits, many people desired to cultivate it in their home’s gardens. Cultivating Broccoli is easy and doesn’t need a lot of care and expenses. With succession gardening, it is possible to get a continual harvest throughout the summer and fall with Broccoli. If you are interested to cultivate this vegetable in the garden, follow the below-given guidelines for the best results.
Selecting the right variety for gardening:
Selecting the appropriate variety of Broccoli seeds according to the type of soil and climate is key to healthy growth. There are a few recommended varieties of Broccoli that are given below (Growing Broccoli, 2018). Choose one of it according to your area climate.
Green Duke: It can tolerate heat and good for early season cultivation. It is recommended for moderately hot climatic conditions and is perfect for Southern gardeners.
Calabrese: If you are considering fall season planting, this is probably the best variety of Broccoli for this purpose. It is a special Italian variety with sprouts side shoots.
Paragon: It is perfect for little colder climate conditions and recommended for the colder area like Canada.
Green Goliath: It contains sprouts side shoots, good for warm climate area gardening.
Flash: Good for summer and fall season plantation. It is a kind of hybrid variety which is very heat resistant.
Besides these most popular varieties of Broccoli gardening, some more varieties are also in common use. Some of these varieties include Captain, Everest, Gypsy, Pinnacle, and Premium Crop (Michael et al., 2005).
After choosing the right variety of Broccoli, appropriate soil is also an important step towards the successful growth of this super healthy vegetable. Broccoli grows on two types of soil. First one is well drained yet water holding soil, this is the best soil to grow Broccoli. The second type is sandy soil with better irrigation facilities. For sandy soils, proper irrigation is important for the proper plant growth e.g. main head and side shoot development. If water availability is scarce, drip irrigation is highly recommended (Michael, William, Lynn, & Jayson, 2005).
How to plant Broccoli:
There are two ways of growing Broccoli, the seeds sowing and outdoor plant growth. In harsh weather areas, gardeners commonly grow broccoli indoor when they start growing it from seeds. For indoor sowing, the best time is between 3rd April and the 17th of April (Growing Broccoli, 2018).
Outdoor Plantation of Broccoli normally takes place in two seasons, in spring and fall seasons. In the spring season, seeds sowing depends upon the last spring frost date (For this purpose having proper information of normal last spring frost date of your area is important). Normally sowing of seeds transplants Broccoli in your garden 2 or 3 weeks before the last spring frost date which is variable according to the area (Steve, 2019).
Fall planation revolves around the first frost date. Plant Broccoli three months before the average first frost date according to your area. For colder climate fall planation is not recommended, it is best for the warm climate area.
Plant seeds half an inch deep in the soil and in the case of plant growth it is recommended to set transplants deeper than the originally grown plants. Spacing between the two plants should be between 1-2 feet (Growing Broccoli, 2018). In the case of thick seeding, uproot the extra plants so that the space between two Broccoli plants is around 1 foot for better growth.
How to take care of Broccoli plants
Growing vegetable plants is one side of the coin. All types of vegetable plants need proper care for the expected results so is the Broccoli. We can divide this care into two parts i.e. the general care steps and pest control measures.
General Care Steps:
- Keeping the optimal soil moisture level in the soil is necessary for better growth of Broccoli plants. Watering every week to maintain soil moisture in drought conditions is highly recommended (Growing Broccoli, 2018).
- When watering, avoid wetting the Broccoli heads because it can damage the flower growth.
- It is recommended to provide fertilizer after three weeks of transplanting seedlings.
- Keep an active watch on the growth of weeds as they can disturb the growth of Broccoli plants.
- Mulch is found to be very helpful in rooting out weeds and regulating the soil temperature.
Pests are the real threat to Broccoli, much more dangerous than the weeds as it is proven the fact that Broccoli can compete with all types of weeds really well. Pests can stall the growth of Broccoli and can reduce the production rate. The potential pests include cabbage loopers, Flea battles, diamondback moths, different types of cabbage worms and aphids. To cope with this threat continuous monitoring through traps and scouting can help in determining the number of pests. The population of these sects/pests will determine the interval of pesticide use (Michael et al., 2005) Now have a look at the type of diseases emanating from these pests.
- Black rot
- Black leg
- Bacterial head rot
- Downy mildew
The solution to these disease lies in crop rotation and hybrid varieties of vegetables. To cope with these diseases pesticides use is necessary but to determine the amount and interval of use, you need to contact the concerned authorizes for complete examination and determination of any of the disease.
Harvesting and Storing
The best part of growing any crop is to harvest it at the right time and in the right way. Broccoli is harvested when the buds of the head are firm and tight, right before the heads flower. When you see the yellow pellets, don’t waste your time, just harvest it immediately (Michael et al., 2005). Cut the main part of i.e. the head of the plant and include 6 inches of the stem part in it. Fortunately, most of the varieties of Broccoli have side shoots which means you can harvest from one plant for more than one time (Growing Broccoli, 2018).
After harvesting Broccoli, store it at a cooler place. The best temperature to store Broccoli is 0 deg. Centigrade or 32F. The relative humidity for storage environment should be 95-100%. You can store Broccoli for around 10 days at best at this temperature and humidity (Michael et al., 2005).
There is another way to store Broccoli and use it around the year. Through blanching, we can store it for more than a year time. Cook Broccoli for just 2-3 mins in boiling water and cool it rapidly in ice cold water After few mints, drain the water and store it in freezer bags and cold airtight containers. Now you can use Broccoli for more than one year time without rotting.
Health Benefits of Broccoli-Why you should eat Broccoli daily
Most of the people think if eating Broccoli is healthy or not. Broccoli is healthy, in fact, the healthiest vegetable on planet earth. It is rich in vitamins A and C, contains a high amount of minerals like Potassium and Iron. Forget about its flavor, just focus on its enormous health benefits given below, you would like to eat it daily.
Helps prevent cancer:
Cancer is associated with the rapid growth of abnormal cells in any part of the body. National Cancer Institute in recent research revealed a relation between the Broccoli and cancer and found that this healthy vegetable was very helpful in preventing cancer. The secret of it lies in the presence of a chemical compound called glucosinolates that have sulfur content in it. During eating and cooking, glucosinolates break and form an active compound named as indole-3-carbinol (Ravi T.T, 2019). This active compound helps in preventing cancer in any part of the body. Eating Broccoli helps in preventing lungs, breast, prostate and colon cancers.
Bone and Teeth health:
Broccoli can sooth the pain of bones and can help in maintaining healthy teeth. Broccoli has significant amounts of vitamin C, calcium and potassium- all these compounds can play a big role in healthy growth and maintenance of bones and teeth.
Another vitamin known as vitamin-K builds and strengthen bones better than the calcium. Eating a cup of Broccoli is enough to meet your body’s daily requirement of vitamin-K. Be it bone diseases or teeth problems, Broccoli should be your first choice.
Control the Cholesterol level:
Cholesterol is considered a harmful compound by most of the people but the reality is in contrast. Cholesterol is an important component for bile acid formation for better digestion. Cholesterol is dangerous only if its amount is exceedingly higher than the normal level. Broccoli can helps in coping with increased cholesterol levels. Some substances in Broccoli make bonds with bile acid in your gut and prevent their reuse. This increases the formation of new bile acid from the cholesterol and lowers the level of cholesterol in your blood (Adda, 2019). Start eating Broccoli especially the steamed one to prevent the higher cholesterol level from today.
Improves Liver health:
Broccoli is a pure blessing for your liver. It can help in preventing liver diseases like cancer and toxification of the liver. Broccoli sprouts increase the levels of enzymes that are responsible for detoxification of the liver and avoid any damage to it. Dietary Broccoli can reduce the chances of fatty liver disease which is responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Eating 4 cups of Broccoli per week can prevent these types of liver diseases effectively (Ravi T.T, 2019).
One of the healthy compound present in Broccoli includes sulforaphane which is a blessing for diabetes patients. It prevents any damage to blood vessels (with the help of specific enzymes) caused by diabetes (Ravi T.T, 2019). Before you start eating Broccoli, taking advice from your doctor is highly recommended. If you are eating a protein type of nutrition, you may have to reduce the Broccoli intake depending upon your doctor advice.
Broccoli can prevent blindness caused by aging factor thanks to presence sulforaphane. It has antioxidant properties and protects eyes from the dangerous ultraviolet radiations. Eating Broccoli can increase the amount of sulforaphane protecting the eyes. Broccoli is also rich in vitamin A which helps in preventing night blindness (Adda, 2019). Start eating a cup of Broccoli on a daily basis and stay protected from all type of eye problems.
Improves Function of Brain:
Broccoli improves the memory and cognitive abilities of the brain thanks to choline and vitamin-K presence in Broccoli. There is good news for patients of depression and Alzheimer’s (Ravi T.T, 2019). Broccoli contains a substantial amount of folic acid which can reduce the impacts of these diseases. If you are facing the cognitive decline, Broccoli should be your favorite vegetable as a recent study carried out by Harvard Medical School shows that beta-carotene present in Broccoli can solve this problem.
Skin problems are common in today’s polluted environment. Cases of sunburn are also on the rise. Vitamin C has antioxidant properties, especially when it is eaten in its natural form like fruits and vegetables like Broccoli. Vitamin C can prevent skin damages stated above and improve the outlook of your skin. Broccoli contains some 81 milligrams of vitamin C in one cup that is more than what you need in the entire day. (Adda, 2019). Vitamin A and C are two main components which play an important role in collagen formation (the support system for the skin). This way Broccoli can make you look younger than the actual one.
As we know Broccoli contains a rich amount of fiber which is very helpful in better functioning of metabolism. The calcium and vitamin C present in Broccoli can increase the rate of metabolism. A healthy metabolism is helpful in increasing the activity of the immune system of our body (Ravi T.T, 2019).
Vitamin C makes the backbone of our immune system. Broccoli is rich in vitamin C and provides a boost to an aging immune system. Sulforaphane present in Broccoli can slow and in some cases can reverse the decline of cell’s immune system decline and this way protects our body from different types of diseases.
Improves Hair health:
Vitamin C reduces the free radicals that cause hair loss while vitamin B present in Broccoli strengthen the hair follicles and make them stronger. Broccoli also helps in producing sebum which is responsible for natural hair conditioning (Ravi T.T, 2019).
Possible health risks of using Broccoli
Eating Broccoli is risk-free for most of people. At the same time, it can cause some health risks for sensitive people. Some of the health risks associated with Broccoli consumption are given below.
Reaction with Blood Thinners:
Patients consuming blood thinners like Warfarin should consult with their personal physician before eating Broccoli. In some cases, Broccoli’s vitamin-K can react with the blood thinners (Adda, 2019).
Broccoli is goitrogen in nature and can cause some thyroid problems if taken in large amounts. To avoid this risk, cooking on high heat can reduce these problems.
Eating broccoli has little side effects but applying it on the skin can cause allergy problems. When you see rashes after applying Broccoli on the skin, stop using it immediately (Ravi T.T, 2019).
Tips for cooking Broccoli
Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables. You can eat it in the raw form or can cook it if you wish. If you have no idea how to cook it, the following steps can help you in the excellent cooking of Broccoli.
Cooking the Broccoli
- Before cooking or eating raw Broccoli, wash it with cool water to remove any chemicals or dirt.
- Remove the bottoms of stalks.
- Cut the stalks into similar size (bite-size recommended) pieces.
- Cut the florets where the stems attach to the stalk. Cut florets into quarters, it will help in uniform cooking.
- Cut the stem into even pieces for better cooking.
- When cooking with Stir Frying, keep checking the tenderness when you are cooking. When the stems are penetrable with a fork, cooking is complete.
- In the case of Microwaving, cover the Broccoli pieces with 125 mL of water. Don’t cook more than 10 mins on high. When the stem can be pierced with a fork, cooking is done (All about Broccoli, 2017).
- In the case of Steaming, cook for 10-15 mins. When the stems are penetrable with a fork, cooking is complete.
Raw VS the Cooked Broccoli:
Both raw and cooked Broccoli has great health benefits. To get the most nutrients out of it, eating raw Broccoli is highly recommended. You can lightly cook it a small amount of water avoiding the boiling for the similar benefits of raw Broccoli (Ravi T.T, 2019). You can enjoy raw Broccoli in the following ways.
- Mix it with the bean salads. This two in one formula can provide extra health benefits.
- Combine it with yogurt dip or hummus.
- Use it with green salads (or coleslaws).
Popular Broccoli Recipes to Try:
You can prepare many dishes of Broccoli each one is better than the other, few of these recipes are given below.
- Broccoli Soup
- Broccoli Smoothie
1- Laura. B. R (2014). Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables. New York, NY: Ten-speed publisher.
2- Linda. G (2015). How to Grow Broccoli [Kindle Version]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/
3- Ravi. T. T (2019, May 6). 21 Best Benefits of Broccoli for Skin, Hair, and Health. Retrieved from https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/benefits-of-broccoli-for-skin-hair-and-health/#gref.
- Ambrosone. C, Tang L. (2009). Cruciferous vegetable intake and cancer prevention: role of nutrigenetics. Cancer Prev Res (Phila Pa). 2009 Apr; 2(4):298-300.
5- All about Broccoli (2017, Nov. 28). Retrieved from https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Cooking-Food-Preparation/All-about-broccoli.aspx.
6- Michael D. O, William J. L, Lynn F. K, Jayson K. H. (2005, June 20). Broccoli Production. Retrieved from https://extension.psu.edu/broccoli-production.
7- Growing Broccoli (2018). Retrieved from https://www.almanac.com/plant/broccoli
8- Adda. B (2019, May 10). Broccoli 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/broccoli
9- Steve. A (2019, January 9). HOW TO GROW BROCCOLI. Retrieved from https://harvesttotable.com/how_to_grow_broccoli/
- Bahadoran. Z, Mirmiran. P, and Azizi F. (2013). Potential efficacy of broccoli sprouts as a unique supplement for management of type 2 diabetes and its complications. J Med Food. 16(5):375-82.
11- TNN (2018, Dec. 6). 11 health benefits of broccoli. Retrieved from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/diet/11-health-benefits-of-broccoli/articleshow/30843390.cms
12- Leslie. L (2018). 10 Fun Facts You May Not Know About Broccoli. Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6039/10-Fun-Facts-You-May-Not-Know-About-Broccoli.html.
13- Jessie. S (2017, June 15). Broccoli: Health Benefits, Risks & Nutrition Facts. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/45408-broccoli-nutrition.html.
14- Emily. M (2019, May 7). All You Ever Wanted to Know About Broccoli Nutrition. Retrieved from https://www.organicauthority.com/energetic-health/p47192.
- Armah. C, Derdemezis C, Traka MH, et al. (2015). Diet rich in high glucoraphanin broccoli reduces plasma LDL cholesterol: Evidence from randomised controlled trials. Mol Nutr Food; 59(5):918-26.
- Dairy Council of California (2019). Health Benefits of Broccoli. Retrieved from https://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/All-Star-Foods/Vegetables/Article-Viewer/Article/91/Health-Benefits-of-Broccoli
- Laurie. N (2015, Aug.14). 5 Tips to Grow Big Broccoli Heads. Retrieved from https://commonsensehome.com/grow-big-broccoli-heads.
- Amy. A (2018). A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Broccoli from Seed. Retrieved from https://getbusygardening.com/growing-broccoli-from-seed/
- Kris. W (2018, July 23). 6 Things You Need to Know Before Growing Broccoli. Retrieved from https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/gardening/a20706315/growing- broccoli/.
- Michigan state university (2016, May 18). How to Grow Broccoli. Retrieved from https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/how_to_grow_broccoli.
- Marie. L (2019, April 29). Growing Broccoli Plants in the Vegetable Garden. Retrieved from https://www.thespruce.com/growing-broccoli-plants-in-the-vegetable-garden-1403457
- Deb. W (2018, Jan.18). How to Grow Broccoli. Retrieved from https://www.bhg.com/gardening/vegetable/vegetables/growing-broccoli/
- Kathee. M (2019, Dec. 3). How to Grow Broccoli – Growing Broccoli in Your Garden. Retrieved from https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/broccoli/how-to-grow-broccoli.htm