About: The word broccoli, from the Italian plural of broccolo, refers to “the flowering top of a cabbage”. Broccoli is classified in the Italica cultivar group of the species Brassica oleracea. Broccoli has large flower heads, usually green in color, arranged in a tree-like fashion on branches sprouting from a thick, edible stalk. The mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli most closely resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species.
Broccoli evolved from a wild cabbage plant on the continent of Europe. Indications point to the vegetable’s being known 2,000 years ago. Since the Roman Empire, broccoli has been considered a uniquely valuable food among Italians. Broccoli was grown at Antwerp whence it was taken to England by the sculptor Peter Scheemakers and was first introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants but did not become widely known until the 1920s.
How to Use: Broccoli can be served raw or cooked. Raw broccoli can be added to salads. Serve cooked broccoli as an accompanying vegetable it goes particularly well with chicken or fish dishes. Serve it simply steamed or dress with melted butter or olive oil and lemon juice. Broccoli can be added to stir-fry dishes and cooked florets make a tasty and colourful addition to pasta sauces or bakes.
How to Prepare: Broccoli is often sold ready-trimmed so there is very little wastage. Trim the stalk using a small sharp knife. Cut into even-sized florets and rinse in cold water.
How to Cook: Broccoli can be boiled, steamed or stir-fried. It is easy to overcook broccoli its beautiful vivid bright green colour turns to a dull greenish grey and it loses its crisp texture. To boil broccoli, place the florets in a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 6–8 minutes. To steam broccoli, place it in a steamer and cook for 6–8 minutes. To stir-fry broccoli, break it into bite-sized florets, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan and add the florets, cook for 4–5 minutes or until tender.
How to Store: Keep refrigerated after purchase.
Broccoli is high in vitamin C, as well as dietary fibre; it also contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and small amounts of selenium. A single serving provides more than 30 mg of Vitamin C and a half-cup provides 52 mg of Vitamin C.
Broccoli also contains the compound glucoraphanin, which can be processed into an anti-cancer compound sulforaphane, though the benefits of broccoli are greatly reduced if the vegetable is boiled. Broccoli is also an excellent source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.
Steaming broccoli for 3–4 minutes is recommended to maximize potential anti-cancer compounds, such as sulforaphane.Boiling reduces the levels of suspected anti-carcinogenic compounds in broccoli, with losses of 20 – 30% after five minutes, 40 – 50% after ten minutes, and 77% after thirty minutes. However, other preparation methods such as steaming, microwaving, and stir frying had no significant effect on the compounds.
Broccoli has the highest levels of carotenoids in the brassica family and a high intake of broccoli has been found to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.Broccoli consumption has also been shown to be beneficial in the prevention of heart disease.
Vitamins, Minerals & Phytochemicals
Is ‘High In’:
- Beta-carotene (Pro-vitamin A)
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
- Betacarotene (Carotenoids)
- Lignans (Phytoestrogens)
- Lutein (Carotenoids)
- Quercetin (Flavonoids: Flavonols)
- Rutin (Flavonoids: Flavonols)
100g broccoli, boiled, typically contains