While you’ve probably heard that broccoli is good for your health since you were a kid, people don’t often talk about the reasons why. We’re here to explain, and hopefully get you excited about it: broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can find, which means you should seriously consider adding it to your weekly grocery list.
Part of what makes broccoli so healthy is that it’s a member of the Brassica family, commonly known as the cruciferous family. This family of vegetables include broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, bok choy, kale, kohlrabi, radish, rutabaga, turnip and Chinese cabbage. They all contain a number of nutrients and phytochemicals with cancer chemopreventive properties, including sulforaphane, folate, fiber, carotenoids, chlorophyll and a variety of other antioxidants. We also love that broccoli is widely available, tasty and easy to prepare!
1. May Reduce Cancer Risk
A key component of broccoli is a phytochemical known as sulforaphane. While it's present in all cruciferous vegetables, broccoli is particularly sulforaphane-rich. Studies have shown that sulforaphane supports multiple pathways that help to prevent cancer from forming, like encouraging mutating cells to self-destruct. In fact, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables have been found to reduce the risk for several different kinds of cancer, including colorectal, lung, prostate and breast cancer. Broccoli sprouts are an even more concentrated source of these cancer-fighting compounds!
2. Prevents Free Radical Damage
Broccoli contains antioxidants that can help protect cells and tissues from free radical damage. Broccoli is packed with vitamin C, flavonoids, carotenoids, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene and other disease-fighting antioxidants.
3. Slows Diseases of Aging
Based on early animal studies, a daily dose of broccoli may be able to prevent age-related cognitive decline. The NRF2 pathway is activated by sulforaphane. This pathway is involved in detoxifying carcinogens and managing inflammation — two of the most important factors for slowing the effects of aging!
4. Protects the Stomach
The sulforaphane in broccoli may protect the inner lining of the stomach from H. pylori infections.
5. Upregulates Detoxification
Broccoli contains valuable phytochemicals that support detoxification. Sulforaphane upregulates detoxification enzymes in the liver and revs up the genes that control detoxification pathways. This process, coupled with the high fiber content enables the body to eliminate toxic chemicals from the body more efficiently.
Pro Tip 1: Buying frozen organic broccoli is a great choice! It is cost-effective, you don’t have to worry about it going bad, it’s convenient to prepare, and it stacks up well nutritionally to fresh broccoli. Just make sure that you read the label to make sure they didn’t add unwanted flavor enhancers or chemical preservatives.
Pro Tip 2: If you find that broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables make you feel bloated and gassy, try taking a digestive enzyme, like Benezyme. If you still have difficulty tolerating broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, stay tuned for our upcoming blog about "sulfur intolerance." Or come see one of our practitioners to help you identify and address any digestive imbalances or food intolerances you may have.
If broccoli is already on your weekly grocery list, but you’re growing bored of eating it the same way, switch it up by preparing it differently. The possibilities are endless: riced broccoli in a stir fry, roasting broccoli florets, pureeing it in a soup or adding it to a smoothie!
We would love to see how you are incorporating more broccoli into your diet. Tag us @morrisonhealth on Instagram and show us what’s cooking!
WE’VE GOT YOUR BACK
This guide was written by Dr. Morrison and the health and nutrition experts at The Morrison Center. Our team is dedicated to helping you achieve optimal health through the treatment and prevention of disease.
Dr. Jeffrey Morrison is an award-winning medical doctor, a leader in the field of Integrative Medicine, and champion of a nutritional approach to healthcare
Robin is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in Integrative Medicine, Functional Medicine and holistic healing modalities. She helps her clients address complicated conditions and return to wellness.
Stephanie is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner with a passion for helping her clients fulfill their potential through both emotional and physical optimization.