Whether broccoli is tasty or not is quite a subjective issue. There must be many who don’t like the taste of broccoli ( raw or cooked ), while others consume broccoli with pleasure. But, there appears to be a common consensus that consuming broccoli regularly as part of a balanced diet has definite health benefits.
Broccoli resembles a dwarf tree and is one of the members of the cabbage family.
However, neither its taste nor its shape made millions of people inclined to eat broccoli at every opportunity. The incredible and proven health benefits of broccoli are the main reason why broccoli consumption has increased by 940 % in the last 3 decades, mostly among middle-aged and older people.
In this article, we are going to investigate the top 11 science-backed health benefits of broccoli.
However, before touching upon these proven health benefits, let’s discover the nutrients that make broccoli one of the healthiest vegetables on earth. Thereafter, we are going to enumerate the health benefits of broccoli one by one.
Broccoli Nutrition Facts
The main reason why many people around the world tend to eat broccoli stems from broccoli’s rich nutrient content that offers various health benefits.
Exploring the nutrients that broccoli contains can give us a clue about the health benefits of this small vegetable.
Broccoli offers various vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants and is high in fibre.
Vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium are the most abundant nutrients available in broccoli.
According to NutritionData, one cup ( serving size ) chopped (91 g) raw broccoli contains :
Science-Backed Health Benefits of Broccoli
As broccoli contains the rich nutrients that we mentioned above, this vegetable can contribute to your health in many ways.
Now, it is time to investigate the 11 evidence-based health benefits of broccoli.
1- Good For Your Heart
Not only broccoli but also other green leafy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and kale can potentially keep heart disease at bay thanks to their rich nutrient contents.
However, broccoli is arguably the most effective one among dark-green veggies when it comes to protecting heart health.
There are multiple scientific studies that support the heart-protecting property of broccoli.
A study carried out by Nutrition Research revealed that regular consumption of steamed broccoli can lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases by decreasing cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
Another study obtained nearly the same results. In the study, researchers came to the conclusion that consuming cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale and broccoli decreases the risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases.
2- May Reduce Cancer Risk
In the previous section, we said that cruciferous vegetables may prevent various health problems thanks to their rich nutrient content.
Broccoli, which is one of the cruciferous vegetables, is indicated by scientists to potentially reduce certain cancer risks. Essentially, the opinion that” broccoli may reduce cancer risk ” stems from broccoli’s phytochemical component.
Well-rounded scientific research supports the idea that broccoli consumption may provide protection to the body against cancers of breast, prostate, stomach, colorectal(bowel), kidney and bladder cancer.
Even though some scientific studies suggest that broccoli can reduce the risk of developing certain cancer in the body, claiming that broccoli provides full protection against cancer would be misleading.
3- Boosts Your Immune System
There are many factors to consider when it comes to having a “powerful” immune system.
While physical activity, quality sleep, stress management, and genetic makeup are the essential components of the immune system, diet might be the biggest factor that determines the strength of your immune system.
Briefly, a strong immune system requires a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health; one of the most critical nutrients for the immune system is vitamin C, which abounds in broccoli.
In light of this piece of information, it can be said that regular broccoli consumption can help you keep your immune system as healthy as possible, with its high vitamin C content and other essential nutrients.
4- Beneficial For Eyes
In this modern age, individuals spend too much time in front of screens. And, excessive screen time and modern city life are known to cause serious eye problems.
Especially in the last 3 decades, the number of people with certain eye problems has increased significantly.
As such, people look for ways to prevent their eyes from getting damaged. Surprisingly, having a healthy diet is as important as protecting eyes from electronic devices, according to eye doctors.
Certain nutrients such as vitamin A, phosphorous, vitamin C, lutein and zeaxanthin have powerful effects on eye health.
Since these important nutrients for eye health can be obtained through broccoli, we can say that broccoli takes care of your eyes.
5- Help in Managing Blood Sugar
As there is no cure currently for diabetes, people with this disease have to consume foods that wouldn’t increase their blood sugar too much. In this regard, broccoli can be quite an ideal food for people with diabetes, as doctors and studies suggest so.
Particularly, if you have type-2 diabetes, you may consider adding broccoli to your diet, if not included yet.
In a study, carried out with the aim of evaluating the effects of broccoli sprouts on type-2 diabetic patients, researchers concluded that broccoli sprouts can be effective in terms of improving insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes.
In the same study, 63 participants with type 2 diabetes showed significantly less insulin resistance after 4-week broccoli sprout powder consumption.
Researchers attributed broccoli’s insulin resistance improving effects to its high concentration of sulforaphane.
Additionally, broccoli’s glycemic index (GI) – which shows how much a certain food increases blood sugar levels – is rather low. That makes broccoli quite an appealing food for people with diabetes. To be more specific, broccoli GI is indicated as 10 out of 100, which is quite low.
6- Supports Your Bone Health
Young individuals may not be concerned about their bone health due to their relative youth. However, after a certain age, bones start losing their strength and may become brittle.
Broccoli, one more time, can help you owing to its rich nutrient content if you have weak bones or complain about painful joints.
Many of us are familiar with the fact that strong bones require calcium. Yet another nutrient essential for bone health is vitamin K. The good news is broccoli is a good source of both vitamin K and calcium.
Scientific research confirms the importance of the nutrients in question for bone health.
7- May Delay Ageing Signs
For some, noticing skin wrinkles and sagging skin can be devastating and frightening. But, ageing effects on the human body are an unavoidable issue. However, with certain methods, some people strive to delay the signs of ageing as much as they can.
Dermatologists note that diet plays a significant role in maintaining skin health. And, especially, veggies are the best choice to delay the signs.
Scientists and scientific studies suggest that oxidative stress may accelerate the ageing process because free radicals that cause oxidative stress, damage healthy cells in the body.
Broccoli can help your body to stand strong against these free radicals by providing a high amount of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that neutralises free radicals in the body. Thus, the potential impact of free radicals on your skin would be minimal.
In addition to vitamin C, broccoli contains “nicotinamide mononucleotide” which is a key compound for the skin.
Taking all of these into account, we can infer that broccoli protects your skin health by providing nutrients essential for skin health.
8- Detoxifies Your Body
Over time, contaminants accumulate in different organs such as the liver and lungs in the body. Obviously, these contaminants can harm the body in various ways if they remained too long inside.
Therefore, cleansing the body from these contaminants is necessary to maintain a healthy body.
Two components available in broccoli can help you detoxify your body. These are dietary fibre and antioxidants.
By consuming broccoli you can help your body to get rid of toxins thanks to the nutrients in question.
9- Improves Digestion
To avoid digestive problems ( such as constipation or diarrhoea ) that we all experience from time to time, doctors recommend consuming fibre-rich foods. As we mentioned earlier, broccoli is famous for its high fibre amount in addition to vitamin C, K and potassium.
According to Mayo Clinic; dietary fibre softens stool and makes it easier to pass. In this way, it is possible to reduce the risk of constipation.
However, bear in mind that, broccoli can contribute to the treatment of bloating and diarrhoea as well.
Moreover, as reported in the study; cruciferous vegetables ( such as broccoli ) provide certain compounds beneficial for gut bacteria and improve digestion.
To sum up, broccoli consumption may improve your digestive health with its rich nutrient content.
10- May Slow Cognitive Decline
Another organ that broccoli may be beneficial for is your brain. Thanks to its rich nutritional content, broccoli can slow down the cognitive decline that occurs due to ageing.
In an article published in Harvard Health Publishing; broccoli and other green leafy vegetables are indicated as brain-friendly foods.
Additionally, a report published in Neurology in 2018 suggested that green leafy vegetables may decrease the risk of cognitive decline in old age.
Folate, vitamin K and beta-carotene are said to be the main reasons why these green leafy vegetables, one of which is broccoli, are beneficial for brain health.
11- Might be Ideal For Pregnant Women
As these small green vegetables are packed with essential nutrients, they can be an ideal food choice in the pregnancy process.
Consuming broccoli in moderation during pregnancy can contribute to the mother’s health and development of the foetus by providing essential nutrients such as calcium, folate, antioxidants, vitamin K and vitamin A.
While we can say that broccoli is safe and provides some necessary nutrition for pregnant women, we do encourage you to consult with your obstetrician regarding food choices in general.
Note: Moderation is key for every food during pregnancy.
How much broccoli is safe to eat daily?
Since there are many variables to take into account such as age, health condition, weight, height, daily physical activity or genetic factors, it is hard to determine the right amount of daily broccoli consumption.
Firstly, it is safe to eat broccoli every day. But, as we all know too much of a good thing is bad. Therefore, moderation is key.
Experts recommend 10 cups of cruciferous vegetables ( like broccoli, and Brussels sprouts ) per week, equivalent to 1-1/2 cups every day.
Best Cooking Method of Broccoli to Retain Nutrients?
Throughout the article, we many times mentioned the essential nutrients that broccoli provides to your body. However, from time to time, we may unwittingly remove some of these nutrients from the broccoli due to the wrong cooking method. To avoid this and retain the most nutrients in broccoli, it is important to know the best cooking method for broccoli
Let’s leave our personal opinions about the best cooking method for broccoli aside and allow science to tell us which cooking method is best to retain the most nutrients in broccoli.
In a comprehensive study; researchers compared 5 different cooking methods for broccoli and discovered the best cooking method in terms of preserving the nutrients. Steaming, microwaving, boiling, stir-frying, and stir-frying were used to cook broccoli and researchers came to the conclusion that steaming is by far the best cooking method for broccoli to retain nutritional values at maximum level.
Is eating Raw Broccoli Safe?
As long as the broccoli is clean, well-washed and free from potential germs and pesticides, yes, it is safe to eat raw broccoli.
Steaming broccoli rather than eating raw may be a little bit more comfortable for your digestive system. Plus, steamed broccoli is relatively easier to chew.
Potential Side Effects of Broccoli
Even though broccoli is entitled ” one of the healthiest vegetables on earth ” by many nutritionists and scientists, there are potential side effects of broccoli. However, these side effects are quite rare and aren’t too serious.
1- Blood Clotting
Some people have a blood clotting problem. This disorder is known as a hypercoagulable state. Therefore, many of these people use blood-thinning drugs to avoid potential risks.
If you use blood-thinning drugs, you may consider limiting broccoli consumption. Because, broccoli contains a high amount of vitamin K, which has a blood clotting effect. Therefore, broccoli may interfere with the effectiveness of your blood-thinning drugs. In this case, it is best to consult with your doctor.
2- Broccoli Allergy
It is a rare allergy. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning. Broccoli allergy happens if the immune system reacts to broccoli in the way it reacts against viruses or bacteria. The immune system, for some reason, perceives salicylates ( present in broccoli ) as a threat and reacts, according to Healthline.
Itching, skin rashes, sneezing, hives and wheezing are among the symptoms.
3- Gas / Bloating
The most common drawback or side effect of broccoli consumption is gas and bloating. Doctors explain this phenomenon to broccoli’s high fibre amount. Fibre takes more time to digest thus causing bloating and gas.
4- Thyroid Problems
People with thyroid problems like hypothyroidism ( underactive thyroid ) may have been advised to limit their cruciferous vegetable consumption, one of which is broccoli.
Even though we know that unless the consumption is too much, these types of vegetables don’t cause harm. We, nonetheless, recommend people talk to their doctors about broccoli and other cruciferous vegetable consumption.
The Bottom Line
Broccoli is an amazing vegetable that offers a variety of health benefits such as regulating blood sugar, boosting brain functions, improving heart health and so forth thanks to its rich nutrient content.
Since scientific studies and experts’ views support the amazing health benefits of broccoli, we dare to claim that this nutritious small green vegetable will improve your health in many ways.
But, remember there are no single foods that alone can boost one’s health. Therefore, combine this healthy veggie with other nutritious foods you eat daily.
Whatever you eat, eat in moderation to reap full benefits.
Tarkan is an experienced health writer ( currently more than 600 articles ) and also the founder of this website namely www.neededforhealth.com. His expertise in health stems from in-depth medical research and knowledge which he obtained over the course of many years.
Tarkan enjoys sharing factual knowledge on health, psychology and nutrition. He always aims to deliver evidence-based recommendations, provide links to related scientific studies.