If you haven’t already welcomed this cruciferous vegetable into your diet with open arms, now is the time to start. Don’t let residual childhood feelings of broccoli based fear and loathing keep you from giving this green a chance.
If you need some motivation, check out these 5 reasons to eat more broccoli — your body will thank you!
1. Cancer Prevention
Broccoli is a cancer-battling powerhouse. Quercetin and kaempferol are two particular flavonoids that have demonstrated the capacity to fight inflammation and inhibit the growth of tumor cells. The vegetable’s isothiocyanates (including sulforaphane) can restrict the enzyme histone deacetylase, which is known to be affiliated with the proliferation of cancer cells.
Studies have also shown that sulforaphane normalizes DNA methylation. This process (DNA methylation) is responsible for cell memory and regulating gene expression (which includes gene suppression). Abnormal DNA expression (the type that should be suppressed) is a contributing factor to the development of nearly all cancers.
Detoxification of the body is generally considered a 2-step process. Broccoli has the capacity to affect activity in both steps. Studies have shown that the isothiocyanates (ITCs) derived from the glucosinolates in the vegetable are able to promote Phase I of detoxification. ITCs are also able to help bridge gaps in Phase II activity, potentially alleviating the chance of insufficiency.
Broccoli also has a triple-threat of phytochemicals (glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiin, and glucobrassicin) which also assist in both phases of the process. The high fiber content (which helps keep the digestive track clear) also contributes to elimination of bodily waste (and subsequent detoxification).
3. Antioxidant Benefits
Free radicals can wreak havoc on your body’s cells, so it’s up to antioxidants to fight the good fight and neutralize these destructive agents. Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C, an electron donor that makes for a potent water-soluble antioxidant. Sulforaphane also contributes to several antioxidant defense pathways in the body that can slow the decline of the immune system that comes with age.
4. Ocular Health
Lutein, the same carotenoid that gives carrots their eye-nurturing superpowers, is also found in broccoli. Lutein is found in the macula of the human eye, and is thought to be responsible for keeping the eyes safe from stress. Another compound antioxidant found in broccoli called zeaxanthin provides similar benefits.
Both lutein and zeaxanthin may additionally help protect against cataracts and macular degeneration, promoting healthy eyes as you age. These compounds have also demonstrated the ability to decrease light sensitivity in people with photophobia.
5. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Broccoli battles inflammation on multiple fronts. Sulforaphane blocks a destructive enzyme that damages cartilage, which could potentially benefit people suffering from osteoarthritis.The isothiocyanates and omega-3 fatty acids found in this cruciferous veggie also help regulate inflammation.
Allergies are another source of bodily inflammation, and broccoli again comes to the rescue. Kaempferol (a flavonol) is found in rich quantities in broccoli, and has the capacity to subdue the immune system’s response to allergens.
Rather than relying explicitly on prescription drugs to heal your body, consider a more proactive approach. You don’t have to eat raw broccoli to get most of the health-boosting benefits; browse around and find some yummy recipes (like this one here) and embrace adding more of this veggie to your life.
Do you have any delicious broccoli recipes on hand? Share them in the comments below!