Broccoli is a variety of cabbage that has a strong and large flower-head. It is one of the most common edible green plants in the world. Usually dark green to sage green, this healthy vegetable can also be white or purple (violet). Regardless of the color, it is a very nutritive plant with plenty of health benefits.
Broccoli Health Benefits and Nutrition Facts
Broccoli, composed of 92% water, has provides little energy but many minerals: Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sulfur; as well as vitamins: ß-carotene (beta-carotene or pre-vitamin A), Vitamin A, Vitamin B9, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K. In fact, it is one of the number one natural source of vitamin K, which plays a key role in controlling blood coagulation, and preventing excessive bleeding.
Broccoli and Cancer Prevention
Broccoli has a preventive action against many tumors due to its content in fibers, sulfur compounds, and other antioxidants: indoles, sulforaphane, glutathione, quercetin, ß-carotene. Studies on broccoli and cancer prevention show these substances have the ability to neutralize some toxic compounds, such as free radicals, in the body, and thus preventing many medical conditions including several cancers.
In a study conducted on 145 laboratory animals subjected to a highly carcinogenic substance. Of all the animals, 25 received no treatment while the others were administered large amounts of sulforaphane. At the end of the study, 50 days later, the animals that did not receive protection treatment were suffering from mammary tumors, whereas among the animals that received the protective treatment, only 26% had malignant tumors.
Experience shows that people who regularly consume broccoli are protected against almost all cancers, according to Dr. Jon Michnovicz, founder and president of the Foundation for Preventive Oncology, Inc., a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of cancer.
Broccoli and cancer prevention are particularly evident in cancers of the colon, breast and prostate.
Broccoli is a source of glucosinolates, indole-3-carbinol, as well as the best source of sulforaphane, a molecule that speeds up the elimination of toxic substances in the body capable of causing cancer. The vegetable can also act directly on cancer cells in order to induce their death by apoptosis, programmed cell death that occurs in healthy (non-cancerous) cells.
Broccoli and Bladder Cancer
According to a Japanese study, regular consumption of broccoli reduces not only cancer but also the risk of many infections, including infections with Helicobacter pylori. A recent study found that regular consumption of broccoli can increase the chances of surviving bladder cancer. In fact, epidemiological studies suggest that cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, provide more protection against several cancers than fruits and vegetables in general.
Broccoli and Breast Cancer
As demonstrated by various studies, broccoli, like most cruciferous, helps fight against almost types of cancer. Several studies have shown that regular consumption of vegetables from the cruciferous family, like broccoli, may prevent certain cancers, such as cancers of lung, ovarian, prostate, and kidney. Consuming the vegetable at least a few times per week may be especially associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer, stomach cancer, and even breast cancer in premenopausal women.
The antioxidant capacity of broccoli decreases during storage. It may even decrease more than 50%. That is, it is better to go organic and local. This interesting plant contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two powerful antioxidants from the carotenoid family. A serving of cooked broccoli (½ cup or 125 ml) contains more lutein and zeaxanthin than when it is raw. These compounds may help prevent certain cancers, including those of the breast and lung, and participate in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. It is important, however, to note that studies on the consumption of antioxidants linked to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases are still contradictory.
Like most cruciferous vegetables, broccoli contains glucosinolates, which have the capacity to develop into active molecules – sulforaphane, indole-3-carbinol and 3,3′-diindolylmethane- when it is chopped, masticated or in contact with the gut flora. These molecules help to limit the development of certain cancers, including breast cancer.
However, storage and cooking can result in loss of glucosinolates and sulforaphane. It would be preferable to consume it raw or lightly cooked in a little water or stir-fried to preserve its nutritional values. While over-coking is not good, moderate cooking would optimize the formation of bioactive compounds. Raw broccoli consumption results in a more rapid absorption of sulforaphane and an increase in bioavailability as compared to when it is cooked.
- Sulforaphane – Broccoli is one of the main sources of glucosinolate called Glucoraphanin. Under the action of the enzyme myrosinase, glucoraphanin turns into an active isothiocyanate called sulforaphane. Researchers have found that broccoli naturally contains a protein that interfered with the formation of this compound, but that moderate cooking allows the body to disable this protein. For cons, the researchers also noticed that too much cooking decreased sulforaphane formation.
- Indole-3-carbinol and 3,3-diindolylmethane – indole-3-carbinol is another active compound derived from a glucosinolate contained broccoli and other cruciferous. In the body, indole-3-carbinol may turn to turn to 3,3-diindolylmethane (or DIM), a cancer preventive agent. Active content in the compounds sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol also demonstrated in animals a beneficial effect on tumor formation, limiting the growth of cancerous cells and promoting their self-destruction.
Moreover, it was observed that sulforaphane had the ability to reduce colonization and destroy the H. Pylori in animals but also in humans. H. pylori is a bacterium that can infect the stomach and cause ulcers and malignant tumors in humans. Some results also show a beneficial effect of indole-3-carbinol against uterine cancer, as well as endometrial and bladder cancers. However, further research is needed before confirming these results in humans.
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