✓ Evidence Based

Broccoli: Nutrition, Health Benefits, Facts, and More

Ah, broccoli. It’s the vegetable some wish to love and eat every day for the health benefits but skip too often for the taste. Broccoli is one of the most underrated veggies because of its popular view of not having a renowned great taste.

Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family. It provides a wide range of essential nutrients like vitamin K and calcium, to name a few. Leafy greens, like broccoli and spinach, are some of the healthiest vegetables most can consume daily. Broccoli can lead to stronger bones, much like milk, and may even be a better solution for most.

Broccoli comes in several varieties, like Purple Sprouting, Eastern Magic, Romanesca, Calabrese, Belstar, Destiny, and more.

By the end of this article, you may want to enjoy this leafy green vegetable a bit more, and we’ll give you some tips to make it taste better. Read on to find out the many nutrition facts, vitamins and minerals, fun facts, and more.

Did You Know?:The broccoli crop itself is typically 2 feet wide and 2 feet tall.

Nutrition Facts

The leafy green vegetable in the spotlight today is one of the most nutrient-dense foods. Although there are plenty of broccoli varieties, they all contain a similar amount of nutrition per serving.

Macronutrients

Consuming broccoli raw is the best way to get the most nutrition, but cooked broccoli can also provide nutritional value. Per one cup of raw broccoli, its macronutrients include (1):

  • Calories: 30  calories (kcal)
  • Protein: 1.95 grams (g)
  • Carbohydrate: 4.7 grams (g)
  • Fat: 0.26 grams (g)
  • Fiber: 1.82 grams (g)

A raw serving of broccoli contains 1.8 grams of fiber and 4.7 grams of carbohydrates (2). Broccoli contains a small amount of naturally occurring sugars such as fructose, glucose, and sucrose, with fructose being the highest at .82 grams. The high fiber content helps with maintaining healthy and regular bowel movements (3).

With almost 2 grams of protein, broccoli is an excellent addition to any dish with healthy protein to give you an extra boost or even lessen the amount of your protein source (4). The vitamin and mineral profile is where broccoli shines, allowing consumption to help with many health benefits.

Vitamins & Minerals

All broccoli varieties contain the same potent amount of vitamins and minerals, and we’ll be examining the amount in raw broccoli. One cup of raw broccoli contains the following vitamins and minerals (5):

  • Calcium: 35 milligrams (mg)
  • Iron: 0.524 milligrams (mg)
  • Magnesium: 16 milligrams (mg)
  • Phosphorus: 50.9 milligrams (mg)
  • Potassium: 230 milligrams (mg)
  • Vitamin C: 69.4 milligrams (mg)
  • Folate: 49.4 micrograms (mcg)
  • Vitamin A: 6.08 micrograms (mcg)
  • Vitamin K: 77.5 micrograms (mcg)

Eating foods like broccoli in their original state gives the most nutrition because cooking any food will lessen the nutritional value, even if only a little bit. The more you cook food, the less nutrition. If you can still chew the vegetable, you are likely getting an adequate amount.

 

Broccoli is famous for its high calcium of 35 milligrams and almost 78 milligrams of vitamin K (6). There are a plethora of other vitamins and minerals in broccoli that we’ll get into as well. Calcium in broccoli is vital for overall bone function and mobility. It can help decrease the number of bone fractures and much more. (7). Vitamin K is essential for bone mobility and function, especially vitamin K2 (8). Another important component to keep bones healthy is magnesium. Broccoli contains 16 mg of magnesium (9). Those three vitamins and minerals are necessary to keep your bones strong.

Some other noteworthy vitamins and minerals in broccoli are potassium at a whopping 303 mg, zinc at .42 mg, and copper at .0059 mg. It’s crucial to balance zinc to copper for optimal balance in the body in any food, and broccoli contains the perfect natural ratio (10). Potassium is one of the most critical vitamins to keep blood pressure levels healthy, making broccoli a great addition to relieving hypertension or high blood pressure (11).

A few other vitamins and minerals in broccoli are manganese, selenium in small amounts, a range of B vitamins, vitamin A, and vitamin E, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin (12). The B vitamins in broccoli consist of folate, B6, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid (13). B vitamins are vital for keeping a healthy nervous system and can even calm symptoms of depression.

Summary:As you can see, broccoli boasts an impressive nutrient profile and is packed with tons of vitamins and minerals, all supportive of one’s health.

Health Benefits of Broccoli

Broccoli is beneficial for health because of its impressive nutrient profile. Let’s have a look at a few of the health benefits of broccoli.

It Supports Eye Health

As mentioned above, broccoli contains several nutrients like vitamin A, and vitamin E, in addition to carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids may provide benefits including decreasing the risk of age-related eye disease (14). In addition, the combination of vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin together helps to protect the eyes (15). All are necessary to provide excellent vision and even prevent macular degeneration later in life (<16). Vitamin E is another vitamin that is essential for vision, in addition to reproductive, brain, and skin health (17).

Summary:Broccoli contains nutrients that provide benefits for eye health and decreasing age-related eye diseases.

It May Help to Prevent Cancer

Research suggests that eating cruciferous vegetables like broccoli reduces the risk of cancer. Several studies have shown consuming broccoli decreased the risk of several cancers, including colon cancer, stomach cancer, bladder cancer, and all cancers in general (18). However, more studies need to be done in humans to confirm these findings. Overall, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli have been shown to have anti-cancerous properties and may decrease the growth of tumors (19).

Summary:Research suggests that vegetables like broccoli may help to decrease risk of cancer and slow tumor growth.

Fun Facts

The cabbage family vegetable has its fair share of fun facts, too. Read below to see where it originated and much more.

  • More than 30,000 broccoli plants can grow on one acre of land.
  • It comes from the Latin word “brachium,” meaning “branch” or “arm.”
  • Broccoli helps to keep the immune system healthy due to its high content of vitamin C.
  • Broccoli has a longer storage life than most leafy greens at 20-28 days.
  • Since it is part of the cabbage family, it is also in the same genus as kale and its white cousin, cauliflower.
  • Broccoli comes in two different forms called heading and sprouting, and heading is the most common.
  • It can take between 75-135 days for broccoli to mature after it starts growing.
  • Broccoli may even help you recover faster due to its high vitamin and mineral count, especially vitamin C and magnesium.
  • Broccoli can lower inflammation, making it one of the top vegetables to consume.

How to Make Broccoli Taste Better

Broccoli is not one of those crowd-favorite foods that everyone gathers around the table to get, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat it plain, raw, and unflavored to get the amazing health benefits. Below are some quick and simple ideas to make broccoli more enjoyable so you can start reaping the health benefits today.

  • Change up your favorite Chinese meal for a low-sodium but tasty alternative. Saute broccoli with a soy sauce alternative and your favorite protein for added health benefits and less sodium like Coconut Aminos. Don’t forget the garlic for an added flavor boost.
  • Add your favorite melted cheese, and if you’d like more garlic. Whether you prefer a vegan cheese like Daiya or a regular cheese, adding some broccoli can be a great way to disguise the taste without overdoing it. Skip the pre-made or restaurant varieties, and make some at home, so you know how much salt and cheese is in there.
  • Try caramelized broccoli with onion and garlic for a change of pace.
  • A little zest goes a long way. Try some orange or lemon zest to put some zing in your broccoli.
  • Add some broccoli to your favorite pasta dish with marinara or alfredo sauce.
  • Simple steamed broccoli with mozzarella makes a great side dish with your favorite protein, like chicken, tofu, tempeh, or steak.
  • Toss broccoli with a dressing like miso or vinaigrette. Add some avocado to change it up.
  • White beans or cannellini beans go great with charred broccoli and cheese.
  • Try sesame-crusted tofu or chicken with broccoli for a different take on a popular Chinese favorite.

There are so many ways even beyond the ones listed above to incorporate more broccoli into your diet and best of all, like the taste. See what you can add to your next meal today.

Summary:There are tons of different ways to incorporate broccoli into your meals. You can also simply eat it raw if making a recipe or cooking it is out of the question.

Potential risks

Experts conclude that if broccoli is consumed in modest quantities the benefit outweighs the potential risks (20). However, there are some things to keep in mind when consuming broccoli.

Some of the potential risks of regularly consuming broccoli include:

It May Decrease the Effects of Certain Drugs

If you are on blood clotting medications or have health conditions, ask your doctor before consuming broccoli. Due to its high amount of vitamin K, consuming considerable amounts of broccoli can work against medications like warfarin (21). Be sure to ask your doctor if it is okay for you to consume broccoli on a regular basis. 

Gastrointestinal Side Effects

Broccoli is high in fiber. If you have medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), eating broccoli may worsen GI symptoms like  stomach cramping, bloating, and gas. Those who cannot tolerate eating very much fiber, like broccoli, may also experience these GI symptoms.

Summary:Broccoli has minimal side effects for most people. However, those on certain medications like warfarin or with IBS should ask their doctor before consuming broccoli regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the typical serving size for broccoli?

A serving size of broccoli is typically 1 cup of broccoli, cooked, fresh, or frozen. Eating more or less of the serving size is per your discretion.

How should I store broccoli?

Broccoli is best stored in the refrigerator, away from other foods like fruits. It will stay good for about 2 days unrefrigerated and around a week if it is stored in the fridge. It is best to loosely store it in a plastic bag or a wrap with holes for it to have some air circulation. You can also try wrapping it in paper towel for extra moisture to absorb which can sometimes help it stay good in the refrigerator for even longer.

Conclusion

Broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense foods that contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and amino acids. This leafy green vegetable is a part of the cabbage family, similar to kale and cauliflower.

Adding broccoli to your diet more often can provide a ton of health benefits like lowered inflammation, improved eyesight, healthy blood pressure, regular bowel function, and much more.

With a long vitamin profile, broccoli can help to boost immune function, regulate the nervous system, and even improve brain and skin health. Adding this vegetable to your diet is a surefire way to improve your health.