Broccoli Could Be One of the World's Perfect Super Foods
Former President George W. Bush may not like broccoli, but that doesn't mean you and your family can't enjoy it. Some kids might have applauded Mr. Bush's proclamation as an excuse to refuse eating broccoli. However, this vegetable's popularity has never really wavered as a result. Therefore, a closer look at the many benefits of this versatile vegetable is warranted here.
A Long List of Positive Benefits
Broccoli is still one of the best selling vegetables in America, for many reasons. For starters, it's rich in nutrients, and low in calories, the best kind of circumstances for such a super food candidate. This leafy green vegetable helps fight cancer, improve our immune systems, build strong bones, and reduce the risk for cataracts. Broccoli has "earned its chops" as one of the best foods for healthy, nutritious diets.
Broccoli is a good source of vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, and is also high in dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and manganese. Most of these nutrients are familiar to us, but folate is specifically linked to reducing birth defects and heart disease. There's more. Broccoli also is a good source of protein, riboflavin, calcium, iron, and thiamin.
Super foods often contain powerful amounts of antioxidants, and broccoli is no exception. As such, broccoli prevents harmful free-radicals from creating havoc on our body's cells and tissues.
Q10 is a particular antioxidant that helps the body produce energy. Another super component of broccoli is a compound called sulforaphane which triggers potent enzymes to help prevent certain cancers. As an added bonus, these enzymes also help control bacteria that can cause peptic ulcers.
You don't have to eat a lot of broccoli to get the benefit from these super nutrients, either. One cup of broccoli provides almost 80 milligrams of vitamin C and 40 milligrams of calcium. That’s a better nutritional food source for calcium than milk, believe it or not. You get all this nutrition for only 25 calories, and broccoli is low in cholesterol and saturated fat.
How to Choose the Right Bunch
Selecting fresh broccoli couldn't be easier. Shop for sturdy stalks with dense, dark green florets, and avoid the wilted specimens with yellowing buds, as these have been on the shelf for too long. Broccoli can store in the refrigerator for up to three days before it starts to lose its vitamin value. Some supermarkets even carry hybrids like broccolini and broccoflower, which combine kale or cauliflower with broccoli.
Pull the green leaves from the stalks and trim the woody end of the stalk from the bottom. If you prefer eating only the florets, or your recipe calls for them, cut the broccoli florets off the stalk, and rinse thoroughly under running water before using. You can always save the stalks for adding to other recipes or for another meal.
Great Ideas for Serving and Cooking Broccoli
Broccoli is quite versatile, and goes well in a variety of recipes and cooking methods. If possible, keeping your broccoli closest to its raw state offers the most nutrients and the best benefits.
As a side dish, broccoli only requires steaming for a few moments, just until the florets turn bright green. Any more than that causes the nutritional benefits to deteriorate quickly. If broccoli turns mushy during steaming or boiling, it has cooked too long.
One solution is to flash-cook broccoli in the microwave to keep the cooking time short and lock in its nutrients. The debate about using microwave for heating vegetables continues, whether it reduces or destroys nutrients in broccoli. The choice is yours to make.
Broccoli works well in omelets, soups, and salads, as a great addition to anything from stir-fry to casseroles. The florets are a colorful and nutritious addition to many types of dishes. Broccoli stalks can be chopped and sautéed, roasted, or even pureed for a creamy broccoli soup. There are thousands of recipes that utilize broccoli, once you begin a search for something tasty.
Broccoli and kids have a long history, and many times it's all about why they don't like it. One way to approach this problem is to realize that raw broccoli florets look like little trees, so you can use this to your advantage to try getting your kids to appreciate broccoli, stressing its beneficial qualities. Add a bit of creamy dressing for 'snow,' and you'll have made a little forest of broccoli trees your kids will have fun with, as they gobble up a little bit of nature.
Also, broccoli sprouts have the same healthful benefits as the plant itself. Tossing a handful of sprouts on a hearty green salad provides a significant boost of nutrients and flavor. You can also tuck some broccoli sprouts into tortilla wraps for a little extra crunch. If what you're eating needs more crunch, consider adding some broccoli sprouts.
It doesn't matter how you serve broccoli - blanched, raw, as an ingredient in main dishes, or steamed as a side dish, you'll enjoy the tasty benefits of this powerhouse vegetable. For the significant boost broccoli provides to your immune system and your overall health, this is one super food you want in your daily diet.