Broccoli is a green vegetable that somewhat resembles a miniature tree. It belongs to the plant species known as Brassica oleracea.
It’s in the same family as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cauliflower — all edible plants classified as cruciferous vegetables.
There are many varieties of broccoli, with the most common — and the one we all simply refer to as broccoli — being Calabrese broccoli.
This veggie is a nutritional powerhouse full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
Today, we are going to look at the top 12 health benefits of this popular vegetable!
1. It’s Packed With Vitamins, Minerals, And Bioactive Compounds
One of the biggest reasons that broccoli is such a superfood has to do with its nutrient content. It’s loaded with a wide range of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other bioactive compounds.
Just one cup of raw broccoli packs :
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Protein: 2.6 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
- Fiber: 2.4 grams
- Vitamin C: 135% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 116% of the RDI
- Vitamin B9 (Folate): 14% of the RDI
- Potassium: 8% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 6% of the RDI
- Selenium: 3% of the RDI
Broccoli can be eaten cooked or raw. Both options are perfectly healthy but provide different nutrient profiles.
Different cooking methods, such as boiling, microwaving, stir-frying, and steaming, can alter the vegetable’s nutrient density, particularly reducing vitamin C, as well as soluble protein and sugar. However, steaming appears to have the fewest negative effects. 
2. It Contains Potent Antioxidants
The antioxidant content of broccoli may be one of the main reasons that it’s so beneficial for human health. 
Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit or neutralize cell damage caused by free radicals. This can help keep the systems of the body healthy, supporting overall well-being.
Broccoli has high levels of glucoraphanin, a compound that is converted into a potent antioxidant called sulforaphane during digestion. 
Test-tube and animal studies indicate that sulforaphane may offer multiple health benefits, including reduced blood sugar, cholesterol levels, oxidative stress, and a lower risk of developing health issues. 
Broccoli also contains measurable amounts of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may prevent oxidative stress and cellular damage in your eyes! 
3. Its Bioactive Compounds May Promote A Healthy Inflammatory Response
Broccoli contains various bioactive compounds that have been shown to help the body manage its response to inflammation.
It’s theorized that multiple compounds work synergistically to support this effect, though some seem to work individually as well. 
Kaempferol, a flavonoid in broccoli, demonstrates a strong ability in both animal and test-tube studies to manage inflammation. [7-8]
A small human study in tobacco smokers also revealed that eating broccoli led to a significant reduction in markers of inflammation. 
While these results are promising, more research is needed to better understand how broccoli consumption affects inflammation in humans.
4. It May Help Manage Blood Sugar
Eating broccoli may support better blood sugar control in some people. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, it may be related to broccoli’s antioxidant content. 
One human study showed significantly decreased insulin resistance in those who consumed broccoli sprouts daily for one month. 
Interestingly, an animal study revealed decreased blood sugar in addition to reduced pancreatic cell damage in unhealthy rats fed broccoli extract. 
Broccoli is also a good source of fiber. Some research indicates that a higher intake of dietary fiber is associated with lower blood sugar. [12-13]
5. It May Support Heart Health In A Variety Of Ways
Several studies indicate that broccoli may support heart health.
Elevated “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels are known to be major risk factors for heart issues. But broccoli may play a role in improving these markers.
One study noticed significantly reduced triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as increased “good” HDL cholesterol levels in people who were treated with a powdered broccoli sprout supplement. 
Some research also supports the notion that specific antioxidants in broccoli may reduce your overall risk of heart complications. 
A study in mice fed broccoli sprouts revealed a potentially protective effect against cell death and oxidative stress in heart tissue following stress to the heart. 
Additionally, a higher intake of fiber-rich foods like broccoli, in general, is associated with a reduced risk of heart problems. 
6. It Promotes Healthy Digestion
Broccoli is rich in fiber and antioxidants — both of which may support healthy bowel function and digestive health.
Bowel regularity and a strong community of healthy bacteria within your colon are two vital components to digestive health. Eating fiber- and antioxidant-rich foods like broccoli may play a role in maintaining healthy gut function. [17-19]
A study in mice on a broccoli diet found healthier colons, along with favorable changes in gut bacteria. 
A recent human study indicated that people who ate broccoli were able to defecate more easily than individuals in the control group. 
Though these results are promising, more human research is needed to better understand how broccoli affects digestive health.
7. It May Support Healthy Brain Function
Some of the nutrients and bioactive compounds in broccoli may slow mental decline and support healthy brain and nervous tissue function.
A study in 960 older adults revealed that one serving per day of dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, may help resist mental decline associated with aging. 
Additionally, an animal study showed that mice treated with kaempferol — a compound in broccoli — had an easier recovery following a stressful event in the brain. 
Sulforaphane is another potent bioactive compound present in broccoli with the potential to support brain function after an event of reduced oxygenation to the brain.
In some studies, mice treated with sulforaphane showed significant brain tissue recovery and reduced complications following a stressful event in the brain or toxic exposure. [24-26]
Most current research evaluating the effect of bioactive compounds found in broccoli on brain health is restricted to animal studies. More research is needed to determine how these compounds support neurological function in humans.
8. It May Promote Healthy Aging
The process of aging is largely attributed to oxidative stress and reduced metabolic function over the course of your lifespan. 
Though no amount of veggies will stop you from aging, a quality diet is thought to be a major player in determining genetic expression and the development of age-related occurrences. 
Research shows that sulforaphane, a key bioactive compound in broccoli, may be able to slow the biochemical process of aging by increasing antioxidant production in the body. 
Still, more human research is needed to determine a cause-and-effect relationship between the dietary intake of broccoli and its effect on the aging process.
9. Its Vitamin C Content Supports A Healthy Immune System
Vitamin C is one of the most essential nutrients for healthy immune function — and broccoli is loaded with it!
Research indicates that vitamin C can support a healthy lifestyle by helping the immune system function at its best. 
Typically, vitamin C is associated with oranges or strawberries, but broccoli definitely deserves credit — a half-cup serving of cooked broccoli boasts 84% of the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) for this vitamin!
It’s important to note, however, that RDIs are based on just enough vitamin C (and other vitamins) to avoid a deficiency. In other words, it’s often the absolute minimum your body needs. But to thrive off of a crucial nutrient like vitamin C and experience its full benefits? It’s best to take more!
10. It May Support Dental And Oral Health
Broccoli contains a wide array of nutrients, some of which are known to support oral and dental health.
Broccoli is a good source of vitamin C and calcium, two nutrients associated with a decreased risk of gum issues. Kaempferol, a flavonoid found in broccoli, may also play a role in supporting gum health. [30-31]
Additional research indicates that the sulforaphane found in broccoli may also support the health of your mouth! 
Some sources claim that eating raw broccoli can help manually remove plaque and whiten your teeth. However, no rigorous scientific data exists to support this.
11. It May Promote Healthy Bones and Joints
Many of the nutrients found in broccoli are known to support healthy bones as well!
Broccoli is a good source of vitamin K and calcium, two vital nutrients for maintaining strong, healthy bones. [33-35]
It also contains phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A and C, which are necessary for healthy bones as well. 
A test-tube study indicates that the sulforaphane found in broccoli may also be one of the reasons why this veggie is so good for the bones. 
12. Its Nutrient Content May Support a Healthy Pregnancy
Your body requires a multitude of vitamins, minerals, and protein during pregnancy to support both baby and mother.
Broccoli is a good source of B vitamins — namely B9, also known as folate.
Folate is an essential nutrient for the development of the fetal brain and spinal cord. Regular consumption of folate-rich foods like broccoli can help promote a healthy pregnancy. [38-39]
Additionally, some animal studies indicate that broccoli eaten by the mother may support a healthier cognitive development in the newborn.
The Bottom Line
Broccoli is a nutrient-rich vegetable that may enhance your overall health in a variety of ways — from boosting immunity to promoting heart health.
However, keep in mind that good health doesn’t come from any single food. Broccoli is merely one of the numerous healthy foods that can contribute to optimal health
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