Broccoli is the superhero of vegetables, containing a powerhouse of nutrients beneficial for digestion, heart health, and the immune system. High in fiber and vitamin C, broccoli is a good source for potassium, vitamin A and B6. Research has established that these nutrients, along with other compounds in broccoli, have anti-inflammatory and cancer-preventing properties.

Broccoli is packed with phytochemicals and antioxidants. These amazing substances influence cancer-fighting activity within our bodies, such as stimulating the immune system, stopping substances we breathe or eat from becoming carcinogens, reducing inflammation that makes cancer growth more likely, and even slowing the growth rate of cancer cells.

Broccoli’s secret weapon is actually two chemicals: sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol (I3C). These chemicals boost the body’s ability to detoxify, help moderate estrogen levels, and have been shown to slow the progression of tumors.

It’s easy to add broccoli to your diet because you can enjoy it raw, steamed, in stir-fry, soups, slaws, and even in a green smoothie. A serving is one cup; aim for two to three servings per week.

Purchasing tips: Choose organic broccoli florets that are uniformly colored (dark green, sage or purple-green, depending upon variety) and with no yellowing. Store in a plastic bag, with no extra air trapped inside, in the fridge for up to a week.

Here’s a tasty broccoli recipe:

Spicy Broccoli Stir-Fry

Pungent garlic and spicy red pepper are balanced by the light sweetness of green broccoli in this vegan side dish

Ingredients

5 garlic cloves

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 (10-ounces) packages frozen chopped broccoli (do not thaw)

1 cup water

1/4 tsp hot red-pepper flakes

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Preparation

Finely chop garlic. Cook garlic in oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, but not brown. Add broccoli, water, red-pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is tender and almost all of liquid has evaporated, 12 to 15 minutes.

Option: top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Resources

American Institute for Cancer Research. “Phytochemicals: The Cancer Fighters in the Food We Eat.” Accessed on August 4, 2016.  http://www.aicr.org/reduce-your-cancer-risk/diet/elements_phytochemicals.html

Ware, Megan. “Broccoli Health Benefits.” Medical Health News Today.com.  Accessed on August 3, 2016:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266765.php

Linus Pauling Institute. Indole-3-Carbinol. Accessed on August 4, 2016: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/indole-3-carbinol

WorldsHealthiestFoods.com “What’s New & Beneficial about Broccoli?” Accessed on August 3, 2016:  http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=9

Nguyen, Hanh H. et al. “1-Benzyl-Indole-3-Carbinol Is a Novel Indole-3-Carbinol Derivative with Significantly Enhanced Potency of Anti-Proliferative and Anti-Estrogenic Properties in Human Breast Cancer Cells.” Chemico-biological interactions 186.3 (2010): 255-266. PMC. Web. 2 Aug. 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3422669/

Tortorella, Stephanie M. et al. “Dietary Sulforaphane in Cancer Chemoprevention: The Role of Epigenetic Regulation and HDAC Inhibition.” Antioxidants & Redox Signaling 22.16 (2015): 1382-1424. PMC. Web. 2 Aug. 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4432495/

Li, Yanyan et al. “Sulforaphane, a Dietary Component of Broccoli/Broccoli Sprouts, Inhibits Breast Cancer Stem Cells.” Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research 16.9 (2010): 2580-2590. PMC. Web. 2 Aug. 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2862133/

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