When asked what foods are healthy, one of the first foods that might come to your mind is broccoli, and you wouldn't be the only one. Broccoli is one of the most mentioned of health foods in a survey done by nutritionists, medical doctors, and naturopaths. And this is for a good reason; broccoli is very low in calories but is one of the highest nutrient-dense foods.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, and is related to bok choy, cabbage, kale, and swiss chard. Cruciferious vegetables are excellent sources of phytochemcials (called isothiocyanates) that are particularly known to fight cancer by neutralizing carcinogens (carcinogens are cancer-causing agents). They do this by decreasing the poisonous effects of the carcinogens and by encouraging the release of "carcinogen killers." The “carcinogen killers” help to quickly remove the carcinogens out of the body.
These phytochemicals also help to prevent lung and esophageal cancers and can lessen the risk of other cancers, such as gastrointestinal cancer. Many of the phytochemicals have been shown to prevent carcinogens from forming tumors. And, furthermore, broccoli is especially high in a specific phytochemical that helps to prevent mammary tumors, which makes broccoli a great and important food for women in particular.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli have another important phytochemical called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane increases the activity of an enzyme (called phase-2 enzymes) that helps to fight carcinogens. These enzymes are particularly important in reducing the risk of prostate cancer. Studies show that sulforaphane stimulates the body's production of detoxification enzymes and has a strong antioxidant effect. Sulforaphane has also been shown to be helpful against Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria responsible for most peptic ulcers and highly linked to gastric cancer.
In addition to broccoli's phytochemical content, it also provides a great amount of vitamins C, A, B6, E, and K, folic acid, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and fiber. And just one cup of broccoli provides the same amount of protein as a cup of corn or rice but with a fraction of the calories. It also contains lutein, which is important for vision.
As if this wasn't enough of a reason to load up your plate with broccoli, there is still more to the broccoli benefits. Broccoli contains a strong antioxidant (called indole-3-carbinol) that helps to protect DNA from damage and stimulate enzymes that help to detoxify the body. The benefits of broccoli can't be ignored—if you want an inexpensive, low calorie superfood, broccoli is the way to go. Furthermore, broccoli is a strong and effective tool for helping to prevent several types of cancer.