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Broccoli means "little arms" or "little shoots" in Italy, where it's believed to originate from. Every part of this vegetable is edible — from its stem to the gray-green leaves that surround its head, which are usually removed before the broccoli is sold. You can eat it raw in a salad or in a crudités platter, puree it to make soup or serve it sautéed, grilled, steamed, roasted or stir-fried.

The flavor of broccoli depends on which part you're using and how you prepare it. The florets tend to have a stronger taste than the stem, but they're milder compared to the leaves. Cooked broccoli is also sweeter than raw. Additionally, the method of cooking affects the compounds found in this vegetable; One study showed that steaming is the best way to preserve broccoli's nutrients.

To determine if a broccoli is fresh, look for tightly closed and springy florets as well as thin stalks. Avoid those with flowering heads, yellowing florets or thick stems, as they indicate maturity. Fresh broccoli can be kept for up to five days when wrapped in a reusable or perforated bag and stored in the crisper of your fridge. Meanwhile, cooked broccoli can last for up to three days in the refrigerator.

Health Benefits of Broccoli

Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and bioactive phytochemicals. One of its major chemical constituents is sulforaphane, which is found to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antimicrobial, antiaging, antidiabetic and neuroprotective properties.

An article published in the Experimental and Clinical Sciences Journal highlights the chemoprotective property of sulforaphane against various cancers, including breast, colon, stomach and lung cancer. It may also help lower the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.1

The flavonoids kaempfrol and quercetin contribute to the anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective and anticancer actions of broccoli. In terms of vitamins and minerals, broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin A, a necessary nutrient for eye health, and vitamin C, which plays a role in various biological functions in the human body, including the biosynthesis of collagen and neurotransmitters.

Other high-amount, health-boosting nutrients present in broccoli include vitamins K and B6, folate, potassium and manganese. For more information about the nutritional value of this cruciferous vegetable, check out the nutrition facts table below

Broccoli: Nutrient All-Rounder

Broccoli is an all-purpose multivitamin for the body, plus it contains bioavailable trace minerals and other nutrients that enhance all body systems, including the entire immune system. Nature made broccoli in this way, with a balance that can’t be matched, to offer a little something for every organ, gland, bone, nerve, and more in the body.

Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, but also cabbage, collard greens, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, arugula, and mustard greens, are especially good for lung health; because of their sulfur-rich nature, every single vegetable in this family restores and stimulates the growth of lung tissue. Sulfur is one of the only minerals that branches out into other forms of itself—a chemical process that science has discovered at a surface level and has yet to tap into in its full meaning.

Cruciferous vegetables contain two types of sulfur, one in macromineral form and the other as an accompanying micro-sulfur trace mineral. Together they permeate lung tissue to help stimulate growth, regeneration, and healing, and they also restore and recover lung scar tissue. Crucifers are also rich in vitamins such as B vitamins and A, C, and E.

How To Use:

Enjoy broccoli raw or steamed, in salads, as a crudité with a healthy dip, stir-fried, in soups, and so on. Broccoli can also be enjoyed baked, although you’ll receive more benefits from broccoli when it’s raw or steamed.

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