Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) is a vegetable that means “branch” or “arm,” which pertains to its small, tree-like appearance. It belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables, which also includes Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and cauliflower. It is considered to be one of the healthiest foods available, and research has shown that the nutritional value of broccoli is unmatched, as it may help:
Broccoli’s ability to fight cancer is arguably its most well-known benefit thanks to its naturally occurring sulforaphane.
Experts believe that this compound works by activating more than 200 different genes that fight cancer, while switching off those that fuel tumors, as well as detoxifying present carcinogens in your system.
Promote Digestive Health
Broccoli is rich in dietary fiber, which is an important nutritional component to promote wellness. Fiber helps nourish gut bacteria, as well as adding bulk to your stools to help promote regular bowel elimination.
Furthermore, it breaks down into short-chain fatty acids that may help reduce your risk of inflammatory diseases.
Slow Down Aging
Consuming broccoli may help restore your metabolism to more youthful levels.
It allows your body to produce the enzyme nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), which helps increase nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), a compound involved in mitochondrial health and energy metabolism.
Fight Free Radicals
Phenolic compounds in broccoli have great potential in helping fight free radicals throughout your body, which is a major source of inflammation.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Animal studies suggest that the sulforaphane in broccoli may help curb obesity by speeding up tissue browning. Brown fat is a beneficial type of body fat that can help you stay slim.
Furthermore, the calories in broccoli are very low, making it an ideal health food that won’t give you excess pounds. A 3.5-ounce serving (100 grams) only contains 28 calories.
Sulforaphane was also discovered to help decrease certain gut bacteria known to induce metabolic endotoxemia and obesity.
According to one study, diabetics who took broccoli sprout extract for 12 weeks were able to lower their fasting blood sugar levels by 10 percent.
Even though this may look like a small number, the researchers noted that this difference is significant enough to reduce your risk of diabetes-related health complications.
However, many people do not enjoy broccoli’s flavor, making them miss out on its powerful health-promoting properties. This is because it contains allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), a compound that gives the vegetable a pungent taste.1 If you’re looking to add broccoli into your diet but the flavor isn’t to your liking, there are plenty of ways you can cook broccoli. Discover how you can make the most out of this vegetable and get enjoyment from it for years to come.
How to Cut Broccoli Properly to Maximize Its Nutrition
Most broccoli dishes require florets in different sizes. Knowing how to slice the vegetable properly will allow you to prepare your dishes accordingly to avoid wasting edible parts. To begin slicing broccoli, follow this procedure:2
- Cut off and discard the very bottom part of the stem since it is usually tough.
- Next, trim away small florets to make the stems easier to peel.
- Using a peeler or a small knife, remove the outer layer of the stem to expose the tender green flesh underneath.
- Separate the florets and the stem.
- Now, you can slice the vegetable in any way you want. For small cuts, make slices one-fourth to one-half inch thick. For larger pieces, cut the stems into 1- to 3-inch sections.
With this process, you will be able to include the stem in your dishes as this is an edible part of the plant, too. This allows you to make the most out of the vegetable and getting value for your money.
Different Cooking Processes for Broccoli
Eating broccoli raw is one of the simplest ways to get the vegetable’s nutrients and antioxidants into your system. However, the main disadvantage to this approach is ingesting oxalic acid, a chemical that can cause irritation to your mouth and intestinal tract. It also blocks the absorption of iron and calcium, which are crucial nutrients for a healthy body.3,4
However, do not fret if you don’t care for raw broccoli because broccoli is a versatile vegetable — it can be cooked in various ways to give you different results. So how long does it take to cook broccoli? The answer depends on the cooking method you choose. Here are some ways on how to cook fresh broccoli:5
- Steamed: Steaming your broccoli may not sound like the most appetizing thing ever, but it’s one of the healthiest methods to consume broccoli. Lightly steaming your broccoli for three to four minutes eliminates epithiospecifier, which is a heat-sensitive, sulfur-grabbing protein that inactivates sulforaphane, a very crucial nutrient in the vegetable. Don’t go beyond this specified time as the nutrients will greatly decrease afterward.
- Sautéed: Sautéing broccoli gives the vegetable a crispy texture when cooked with a high-quality cooking fat. You can create a simple sautéed broccoli snack by frying it in coconut oil and a pinch of salt over high heat.
- Roasted or baked: Roasting is another way of cooking broccoli aside from the usual steaming and sautéing. Simply mix the vegetable with a few teaspoons of coconut oil and a pinch of salt, then place it in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Blanched: Blanching is a process that involves dropping the broccoli (or any vegetable) into a large pot of boiling water with a teaspoon of salt. Wait for one and a half minutes, remove the broccoli from the pot, then immediately plunge it into ice-cold water to stop the cooking process. This helps the broccoli maintain its green color, and removes any bitterness in the flavor.6 (It is important that the water be boiling before you add the broccoli; add only a small amount of broccoli at time so the water stays at a rolling boil.)
But what if you don’t have fresh broccoli on hand and you only have the frozen variety? If you don’t know how to cook frozen broccoli, there’s no reason to worry because the process is practically the same as the ones mentioned above — you just have to thaw it beforehand.7 To thaw frozen broccoli, simply place it in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes, then drain off the water. To speed up the process, keep changing the water once it gets cold until you get the desired firmness. From there, you can proceed to cooking your broccoli normally.8
Two Amazing Broccoli Recipes You Have to Try
Like many people, you may not have enjoyed the taste of broccoli because you didn’t like the way it’s cooked. But used correctly (and in an enticing way), it can quickly become your favorite vegetable for the years to come. I highly encourage you to check out the two recipes listed below that use broccoli as the main ingredient. Not only are they delicious, but nutritionally fulfilling as well.
Creamy Ketogenic Broccoli Soup With Wild Trout and Rosemary
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 heads broccoli, broken into florets and stalks chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cups organic chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon dill (leaves only), finely chopped, plus extra for garnish
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 wild-caught rainbow trout, skin and bones removed, flesh smoked and flaked
- 2 tablespoons sunflower and pumpkin seeds, toasted (optional)
- Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat with the coconut oil. Add the onions and cook for five minutes until translucent.
- Add the broccoli stalk and garlic and cook for another five minutes until everything starts to brown, stirring occasionally.
- Add the broccoli florets, rosemary and dill, then pour in the broth and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 20 minutes or until the broccoli is tender. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.
- Using a handheld/stick blender, blend the soup until it has a thick a chunky texture.
- Ladle the soup into serving bowls, then top with the smoked rainbow trout flakes, a sprinkle of toasted seeds and a sprinkling of lemon zest. Serve hot.
Another recipe you can try is the Beef Broccoli Stir-Fry. Compared to the soup, the stir-fry recipe works better as the main course because it contains a mixture of meat and vegetables.
Beef Broccoli Stir-Fry
- 1 pound organic grass fed ribeye boneless steak, sliced into thin strips
- 1 cup organic broccoli florets
- 1 cup lima bean pods
- 1 small organic red bell pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup water or beef broth
- 2 tablespoons Dr. Mercola coconut oil for stir-frying
- 5 tablespoons organic Kikkoman soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dr. Mercola raw honey
- Combine marinade and stir.
- Pour marinade over sliced beef. Cover, place in the refrigerator and let set for 30 minutes or up to one hour.
- Heat coconut oil in a pan. Place marinated beef in the pan and cook until it becomes tender. Set aside.
- In another pan, sauté garlic and then add broccoli, lima bean pods and red bell pepper. Cover and let simmer for one minute.
- Add water or beef broth. Cover and bring it to a simmer for one minute.
- Add the beef to the vegetable mixture, and all juices accumulated. Cook for three minutes longer, stirring frequently.
- Remove from heat and serve.
Broccoli Should Be a Regular Fixture in Your Diet
If you’ve avoided broccoli before because you don’t like the taste, I urge you to have a second look. It’s one of the healthiest foods you can eat that can help boost your overall well-being. That being said, make sure that you purchase organic broccoli to help maximize the nutrients you’re getting. The possibilities with this vegetable are endless, so get cooking right now!
Sources and References