Broccoli is one of the most popular dark green vegetables consumed worldwide. It actually falls into the same family as cabbage, and perhaps less surprising, cauliflower. Cultivated by the ancient Romans, it continues to be one of the most nutritious vegetable crops with high concentrations of vitamins and minerals, yet in a relatively low overall caloric package.
A half cup of broccoli contains less than 30 calories (about 27 to be precise), yet it provides nearly three grams of fiber, and two grams of protein. Broccoli is also high in beta-carotene (vitamin A) giving you 25% of your RDA, gives you nearly 7% RDA of potassium, 4% of vitamin E, and nearly 3% RDA of Niacin (B5), calcium, and iron. It also has trace amounts of zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, folate, vitamin K, B1, B2, and B6. And let’s not forget it also provides over 90% of your daily recommended vitamin C intake.
In addition to its high nutrition, low calorie presentation, broccoli (along with cabbage and cauliflower) has been proven to have anticancer properties. Sulforaphane, a broccoli derivative, in particular has shown anticancer activity, and is even currently being incorporated as an adjuvant in chemotherapy. The National Cancer Institute boasts broccoli as one of the top food items actually fight cancer, and considering that the NCI declares approximately one third of all cancers to be diet related, it is something to pay attention to!
Broccoli is delicious cooked or raw, but like most vegetables, their nutritional value, antioxidative properties, and anticancer effects are best seen when consumed raw. Besides, broccoli, with its small, dense, flowery tops, makes an excellent tool to transfer your favorite dip from the bowl directly to your mouth for immediate enjoyment – and all the while providing you nutrition, and fighting cancer!