Green, crunchy, and packed full of nutrients broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable rich in vitamins, nutrients, and powerful plant compounds. Related to cabbage, kale and cauliflower, broccoli has a ton of associated health benefits. We’re going to talk more about why you should consider adding this amazing little green veggie to your weekly meal prep.
What Is Broccoli
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable. Cruciferous vegetables belong to the cabbage family and contain a powerful bioactive plant compound called sulforaphane. Research has shown that high intake of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage is associated with a reduced risk of cancer because cruciferous vegetables are rich sources of glucosinolates and possess high levels of flavonoids, vitamins, and mineral nutrients [R]. Cruciferous vegetables also contain a compound called indole-3-carbinol. When indole-3-carbinol mixes with your stomach acid, it creates a chemical reaction that converts it to Diindolylmethane (DIM).
Diindolylmethane helps to metabolize ‘good estrogen’ in the body while subsequently decreasing ‘bad estrogen’. ’Good estrogen’ has the ability to protect the heart and brain with antioxidant activity, promote cell growth, and rid the body of damaged cells. Thus promoting ‘good estrogen vs. bad estrogen’ ratios [R]. DIM also works to inhibit aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen.
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According to the USDA Food Central Database, ½ cup of raw broccoli contains
- Calories 15
- Carbohydrates 2.92g
- Fat 0.163g
- Protein 1.24g
- Fiber 1.14g
- Magnesium 9.24mg
- Phosphorus 29mg
- Potassium 139mg
- Iron 0.32mg
- Vitamin C 39.2mg
- Folate 27.7 ug
- Beta Carotene 159 ug
- Lutein + Zeaxanthin 616 ug
1. Broccoli Helps With Weight Loss
Broccoli is a sort of superfood, especially when it comes to benefiting body composition. Broccoli is lower in calories, water dense, high in fiber, low in fat, and high in protein, making it an ideal snack or complex carbohydrate side for meal prep to help you lose body fat.
Caloric deficit is crucial to hep you achieve weight loss, and with only 35 calories per 100g, broccoli can help you achieve greater weight loss.
2. Broccoli May Benefit Eye Health
Broccoli contains powerful antioxidants, more specifically the carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which have been associated with better eye health. Less than 20 of the hundreds of carotenoids found in nature are present in the human body. Among those, only lutein and its coexistent isomer, zeaxanthin, are found in that portion of the eye where light is focused by the lens, namely, the macula lutea. Numerous studies have found that lutein and zeaxanthin can protect your eyes from sun exposure and long-term blue light [R].
One of the leading causes of blindness is macular degeneration, degeneration of the retina. Long-term blue-light exposure can negatively affect the sensitive parts of the eye. Studies show that the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are found in the retina can help absorb blue light.
Researchers at Harvard found that incorporating at least six milligrams of lutein in your diet a day can decrease your risk of developing macular degeneration by 43%. Increasing the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin rich foods in your diet can also help to slow or halt current eye damage and prevent your current condition from progressing. Lutein is absorbed from dietary sources, and transported in large quantities, to the macula and lens of the eye. Lutein may lower the risk of developing AMD, cataracts, and prevent advancement of mild to moderate eye disease [R]. Lutein supplements are available, however, if you include more lutein and zeaxanthin into your diet, kale contains an impressive 40,000 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin per 1 cup serving as well as beta-carotene.
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3. Broccoli May Reduce The Risk Of Cancer
Consuming a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and kale, could help reduce your risk for cancer. Cruciferous vegetables are a rich source of glucosinolates, such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol which have been associated with a lowered risk of certain types of cancers in several epidemiological studies. An extensive review of epidemiologic studies published prior to 1996 reported that the majority (67%) of 87 case-control studies found an inverse association between some type of cruciferous vegetable intake and cancer risk [R].
4. Broccoli Supports Better Digestion
Broccoli benefits digestive health due to its rich abundance of fiber and antioxidants, both of which support better digestive and bowel health. Broccoli contains soluble and insoluble fiber, which both support your gut by feeding gut bacteria in your large intestine. Insoluble fiber helps with regular bowel movements and constipation, while soluble fiber ferments in your gut. As it dissolves, it forms a gel-like material that passes through the GI tract slowing digestion and allowing better nutrient absorption. One of the benefits of soluble fiber is that it lowers cholesterol and maintains stable glucose levels.
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Broccoli Benefits: Takeaway
Broccoli is loaded with powerful plant compounds, vitamins, and minerals which exhibit antioxidant effects and contribute to better overall health. Adding in a half of cup of broccoli to your dinner plate or or raw broccoli as a snack, can help you optimize your body composition, and your health and wellness.
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