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Health experts have praised the benefits of broccoli for quite some time now, as one of most nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet. Even when you eat a small serving of broccoli, you’re giving your body hundreds of nutrients, phytochemicals, and other beneficial compounds that support optimal health.
Here are 7 impressive benefits broccoli has to offer.
If you want to live a pain-free life, controlling inflammation is a must. Processed foods can cause rampant chronic inflammation in your body. And when inflammation isn’t kept at bay, it can:
Fortunately, if you consume vegetables like broccoli, you can give your body a fighting chance against inflammation.
That’s because broccoli is rich in a flavonoid called kaempferol. Studies suggest this compound can help battle inflammation in the body (2).
Like brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage, broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable. Studies have found that eating high amounts of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, is associated with a lower risk of cancer (3).
That’s because cruciferous vegetables (and especially broccoli) contain a compound called sulforaphane (4).
Researchers have found that sulforaphane can inhibit an enzyme called histone deacetylase (HDAC), which is involved in the development of cancer cells (5).
Your body is constantly working to remove harmful toxins. But since the world has more toxins than ever before, your body’s natural detoxification system is overloaded.
That’s why it’s beneficial to eat foods that support your body’s detoxification efforts. Broccoli is one of these foods as it’s rich in chlorophyll.
Another landmark study in China showed consuming broccoli significantly increased the body’s ability to detoxify air pollutants such as benzene (6).
Broccoli is also rich in antioxidants. One of these antioxidants is vitamin C—and no this is not the vitamin C you will find in most vitamin supplements.
That being said, the complete vitamin C found in broccoli can help fight skin damage caused by the sun and pollution (7). Evidence also suggests that vitamin C in its natural form can reduce wrinkles and improve the overall appearance of your skin (8).
Natural vitamin C also plays a critical role in the production of collagen, a compound needed for healthy and supple skin.
And what makes broccoli even more impressive is that you only need to eat one cup of it to get 100% of your daily vitamin C needs.
Broccoli supports your gut health with two key compounds: it’s a rich source of fiber and sulforaphane.
Fiber normalizes your bowel movements, helps control your blood sugar levels, and it can help you achieve a healthy weight (9).
Sulforaphane also plays an essential role in ensuring your gut stays healthy. Aside from its nutrient content, animal studies suggest it can help prevent bad bacteria like Helicobacter pylori from colonizing your stomach (10).
When bad bacteria like Helicobacter pylori gain a foothold in your stomach, it can cause intense abdominal pain, and even ulcers.
You’ve likely heard how you need ample amounts of calcium to keep your bones healthy and strong. But do you know what’s just as important as getting calcium in your diet?
Getting enough vitamin K (which is found in broccoli).
Your body needs vitamin K to absorb calcium. When you don’t get vitamin K in your diet, most of the calcium you consume is not used.
There’s even a large body of evidence that shows vitamin K has a positive effect on the density of your bones (11). Moreover, getting enough vitamin K on a regular basis can significantly reduce the risk of bone fractures.
Among its ability to keep your stomach free of bad bacteria and help protect against cancer, evidence suggests sulforaphane can also protect your heart.
Sulforaphane acts as an indirect antioxidant, increasing the production of antioxidant enzymes that protect your blood vessels from getting damaged (12).
This is huge considering this damage to your blood vessels can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (13).
You can’t cook broccoli any way you want and expect to get all the health benefits. To start with, do NOT boil broccoli. Boiling broccoli destroys some of the beneficial compounds and any water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C.
Avoid microwaving broccoli. One study found it reduces some of the beneficial compounds by up to 32% (14).
To get the most nutrients, eat it raw or use quick steaming (5 minutes or less). Once broccoli is steamed longer than 5 minutes, nutrients begin to decline.
Seek out the greenest broccoli for the highest nutrients, and opt for organic broccoli to avoid harmful pesticides.
Broccoli is a superfood with an impressive list of health benefits, from helping control inflammation to detoxification and so much more. For this reason, broccoli should be a staple of your diet.