You already know that broccoli belongs in a healthful, plant-based diet, but this cruciferous vegetable can provide an even bigger wellness boost if you prepare it a certain way (steamed beats boiled — big time). Get the deets on all of the nutritious benefits of broccoli below, plus info on the best cooking methods you’ll want to turn to again and again for a healthy weeknight dinner.
Serving Size: 1 cup flowerets
- 20 calories
- 3.6 g carbohydrates (1% DV)
- 2.1 g protein (4% DV)
- 2130 IU vitamin A (43% DV)
- .113 mg vitamin B6 (6% DV)
- 66.2 mg vitamin C (110% DV)
- 34 mg calcium (3%)
- .62 mg iron (3% DV)
- 17.75 mg magnesium (4% DV)
- 46.86 mg phosphorus (5% DV)
Health Benefits of Broccoli
Vegetables like broccoli belonging to the plant genus Brassica contain tons of health-promoting compounds and potentially powerful phytochemicals. These nutrients contribute toward:
- Protection against cell damage: Broccoli contains glucosinolates and vitamin C, which have been shown to fight against oxidative stress.
- Improved blood sugar: Broccoli contains sulforaphane, which may inhibit glucose production and improve glucose.
- Reduced risk of cancer: Diets rich in cruciferous vegetable intake, including broccoli, may reduce cancer risk in many tissues including lung, bladder, and prostate.
Now that you know the basics, get the low-down on the best way to prepare and cook broccoli to get the most antioxidants and vitamins:
Are broccoli florets better than stalks?
Besides being fibrous and flavorful, the tops of broccoli may contain more nutrients than the stalks. A study showed that broccoli seeds and florets had the highest proportion of bioactive compounds compared to broccoli stalks. Also, florets provide two to three times more healthful glucosinolates and about twice as many polyphenols compared to the stems. That said, tossing the stalk means getting rid of about half of the total broccoli head, so you might as well chop it up and add it to any stir-fry or riced-veggie dish!
Can you eat raw broccoli? How should I prepare it?
Raw or steamed may be your best best. Boiled broccoli retains only 40% of the phenolic content of the raw vegetable. Try adding uncooked broccoli florets to your salads, or lightly steaming them and drizzling with olive oil. Also, the Vitamin C and glucosinolates in broccoli are water-soluble, making them more susceptible to loss during the cooking process. To retain its vitamin C content, keep broccoli refrigerated.
Looking for some healthy broccoli recipes? Try four of our favorites:
- Roasted Salmon with Crispy Potatoes and Broccoli
- Sausage and Broccoli Quinoa Bowl
- Mahogany Chicken and Broccoli
- Roasted Broccoli Soup