Broccoli is such a unique vegetable, and it should be among the most popular on your plate. It’s good for the bones, heart, brain and it’s said to prevent cancer.
During the Summer, I reflect on the food my kids have been eating in the past year, and it gives me a chance to upgrade or change things that will benefit their growth and age group. I currently have the pleasure of dealing with a pre-teen, who is rebelling against vegetables. Really? It is kindda funny when you are vegan, but I have to deal with this on a daily basis now (and this kid has always asked for his broccoli and good old veggies since he was able to talk). Negotiation is on-going every single day now, and the battle is tough, when the hormones are raging, but I am the type of mom who don’t give up that easily, I just have to use different sales and production strategies. 🙂
I know my kids have been eating a lot of stuff most kids and adults are never exposed to, but one item is definitely on the top of the list, when it comes to vegetables in most homes, and it’s the incredible broccoli.
Broccoli is one of those vegetables that really doesn’t have a lot of flavor to it, but in terms of nutrition, it ranks among the kings and queens of vegetables, and it has very few calories if that’s your focus.
Nutrient dense food can strengthen our immune system and help us fight disease, and there is nothing new about that. Hippocrates said this more than 2000 years ago with the statement: “Let thy food be thy medicine”. But something happened in our society. Fast food and vegetables became less important, and grains and soy foods became the new way of feeding the ever growing world population. The good news – In the last 20 years or so, we have seen a shift from looking at food as a source of energy, to a source of staying healthy and living longer and feeling and looking more youthful, as we age.
It’s so easy to only focus the talk on super foods these days, but its really more important to focus on real food, that grows in our own regions, food that is sustainable, organic and available (Broccoli is best from October – May), packed with nutrients, easy to grow, fills up the belly and is easy to make in so many different ways. Regular food, that most people can relate to and afford. On top of the list is definitely broccoli.
The power of broccoli
Broccoli originates in Italy, and is known as Brassica oleracea. It’s from a powerful group of vegetables, we know as cruciferous vegetables: cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, collard greens, savoy, cress, boo choy, kohlrabi and chinese kale. In it’s wild form, broccoli is known as wild mustard.
Brocollini is a mix between broccoli and kale and broccoloflower is a mix between broccoli and cauliflower. Broccoli sprouts are very popular and known for their high content of the cancer phytochemical sulforaphane.
Looking at a broccoli, we see it has similarities with the human brain, so one might think this is natures sign of showing us, which area of the body that benefits the most. (brain, ganglion, nervous system that modulate immune response).
Broccoli is stuffed with vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, B, C, E, K, folic acid, iron, calcium, phosphor, and magnesium. It’s also rich in various bioactive plant substances called glucosinolates, which helps cabbage to defend itself against unwelcome insects and substances that can attack with disease. Studies shows that the substances that protects the plants, also help protect us humans against disease, incl. certain types of cancer. Broccoli stand out from other vegetables, as it contains the substances called sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane activates genes that take care of the production of detoxifying enzymes. They can collect the insoluble carcinogenic substances in the cells and link them together with soluble substances and transport the substances out of the body, through the blood stream. There has been many trial tests on broccoli, broccoli sprouts, and it all shows that when people eat a diet high in broccoli, it impacts the health in a positive way.
Good for the heart and bones
Broccoli contain flavonoids and carotenoid substances, that are said to protect against cardiovascular disease. Calcium is a very important mineral for the body, as it supports healthy bones and teeth. The best way to get calcium is through natural food sources and NOT calcium supplements (pills) or dairy, as the dairy industry have had people believe for a long time now (read my article/blog post on calcium).
Calcium from vegetables is very easy for the body to absorb, because it does not contain oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is found in high amounts in vegetables like spinach, rhubarb leaves, and also in beet greens and chard (this is why these have such a sharp taste to them). Even though the concentration is pretty low in these vegetables, the above mentioned have so much, that it can interfere with the absorption of calcium. The extra benefit from broccoli and other greens are, that they contain a lot of vitamin C, which help with the absorption of calcium.
Broccoli is a great bacteria killer. It can help getting rid of heliobacter pylori, which has been found present in people with chronic gastritis and gastric ulcers. Studies in Japan, has shown that a daily portion of broccoli can reduce the bacteria and heal the gut.
How to make broccoli
In order to activate the health benefits of broccoli, there are three healthy ways to prepare them:
a) Raw, b) Just kissed, c) Steamed d) Quick stir-fry
Raw: You can add broccoli to salads, soups, smoothies and raw dishes. When The trick is always in the chopping and marinating. A dehydrator can be used to prepare “warm” un-cooked broccoli dishes. You can get the insides to this in my classes.
Just kissed: Boil the water, add the broccoli and take it out immediately. The trick is not to over-cook, so just kissed is perfect.
Steam: The alternative is to steam broccoli in a steamer. Don’t forget that the juices from the broccoli is packed with nutrients, and can be used for other dishes.
Quick stir-fry: Add broccoli to quickly stir-fry in coconut oil with other vegetables
How to NEVER prepare broccoli
Microwave, bake in oven, fry, battered, over-cook and everything else, that cook and destroy the nutrients, texture and beauty of this vegetable.
So get inspired to add broccoli to your healthy lifestyle as often as possible. Be prepared to try new ways to make it – broccoli is one of those amazing vegetables, you can enjoy most of the year and it’s easy to sneak into any kids food.
Celebrate another green day with vegetables!