Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) is a small, tree-like vegetable whose name literally translates to “branch” or “arm”.1 It belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables, which also includes Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and cauliflower. Considered one of the healthiest foods available,2,3 studies show that it may help:
- Fight cancer — Broccoli’s ability to fight cancer, thanks to its naturally occurring sulforaphane, is one of its most well-known benefits. Several studies suggest that consumption of broccoli may help reduce your risk of colon,4 prostate,5 breast6 and lung cancers.7
- Promote digestive health — Broccoli is rich in dietary fiber, which may help lower cholesterol levels and improve bowel movement by adding bulk to stools.8,9
- Slow down aging — Consuming broccoli may help restore your metabolism to more youthful levels. It allows your body to produce nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), an enzyme that can help increase nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), a compound involved in mitochondrial health and energy metabolism.10,11,12
- Fight free radicals — Phenolic compounds in broccoli have great potential in fighting free radicals throughout your body, which is a major source of inflammation.13,14,15
- Maintain a healthy weight — Animal studies suggest that sulforaphane may help curb obesity by speeding up tissue browning. Brown fat is a beneficial type of body fat that can help you stay slim.16,17,18
- Manage diabetes — According to one study, diabetics who took broccoli sprout extract for 12 weeks were able lower their fasting blood sugar levels by 10 percent. This may look like a small number, but researchers noted that this difference is significant enough to reduce your risk of diabetes-related health complications.19,20
The compound responsible for broccoli’s pungent taste is allylisothiocyanate (AITC).21
If you’re one of the many people who do not eat broccoli because of its flavor, you’re missing out on its powerful health-promoting properties. The good news is there are plenty of ways you can cook broccoli to make it more appealing to your palate.
How to Cut Broccoli Properly to Get the Most Nutrition Out of It
Most broccoli dishes require florets in different sizes. Knowing how to slice it properly will allow you to avoid wasting edible parts. Cut broccoli the proper way by following this procedure:22
- Cut off and discard the very bottom part of the stem, since it is usually tough.
- Trim the small florets on the stem to make the stem 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.
- Slice the stem crosswise and then break the head of the broccoli into florets.
With this technique, you’ll 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 your broccoli and not waste money by throwing half of it away.
4 Different Ways to Cook Broccoli
Eating broccoli raw is one of the simplest ways of obtaining its nutrients and antioxidants. However, the disadvantage of this approach is ingesting oxalic acid, a chemical found in many vegetables that can irritate your mouth and intestinal tract. It also blocks the absorption of iron and calcium, which are crucial nutrients for a healthy body.23,24
Cooking helps to significantly lower the oxalic acid content of broccoli. Since broccoli is a versatile vegetable, it can be prepared in various ways:25
- Steamed — Steaming your broccoli may not sound appetizing, but it’s one of the healthiest cooking methods for this vegetable. Lightly steaming your broccoli for three to four minutes eliminates epithiospecifier, a heat-sensitive, sulfur-grabbing protein that inactivates sulforaphane. Don’t go beyond this specified time, as the nutrients will decrease afterward.
- Sautéed — Sautéing broccoli gives it a crispy texture. Be sure to use high-quality cooking oil like coconut oil for this method of cooking. You can create a simple sautéed broccoli snack by frying it in coconut oil and adding a pinch of salt over high heat.
- Roasted — If you’re tired of the usual steamed or sautéed broccoli, roasting is a great alternative. Simply mix the vegetable with a few teaspoons of coconut oil and a pinch of salt, and then place it in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Blanched — Blanching is a process that involves boiling the broccoli (or any vegetable) in a large pot of water with a teaspoon of salt. Wait for one and a half minutes before removing the broccoli from the pot, then 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.26
For frozen broccoli, the cooking process is practically the same as the ones mentioned above — you just have to thaw it beforehand.27 To defrost frozen broccoli, place it in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes, then drain. 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.28
2 Amazing Broccoli Recipes You Have to Try
Like many people, you may have not enjoyed the taste of broccoli because you didn’t like the way it was cooked. But when prepared and cooked correctly, it can become your favorite vegetable for years to come. I highly encourage you to check out the two recipes below that use broccoli as the main ingredient. Not only are they delicious, but they’re nutritionally fulfilling as well.
Creamy Ketogenic Broccoli Soup With Wild Trout and Rosemary
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Serving Size: 4
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 heads broccoli, broken into florets and stalks chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cups of 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.
Fantastic Beef Broccoli Stir-Fry Recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour Cook Time: 30 minutes
- 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 because you’re not fond of its flavor, I urge you to give it another chance. It’s one of the healthiest foods that can help boost your overall well-being. That being said, make sure that you purchase broccoli from trustworthy organic sources to avoid ingesting harmful agricultural chemicals and to maximize the nutrients you’re getting.
+ Sources and References