Broccoli evolved from a wild cabbage plant on the continent of
Europe. Indications point to the vegetable's being known 2,000 years
ago. Since the Roman Empire, broccoli has been considered a uniquely
valuable food among Italians. Broccoli was grown at Antwerp whence it
was taken to England by the sculptor Peter Scheemakers, according to a
biographical note by J. T. Smith. Broccoli was first introduced to the
United States by Italian immigrants but did not become widely known
until the 1920s.
Broccoli is usually boiled or steamed, but may be eaten raw and has
become popular as a raw vegetable in hors d'œuvre trays. Boiling reduces
the levels of suspected anti-cancer compounds in broccoli, with losses
of 20 – 30% after five minutes, 40 – 50% after ten minutes, and 77%
after thirty minutes. Steaming broccoli for 3–4 minutes is recommended
to maximize potential anti-cancer compounds, such as sulforaphane.
Broccoli is high in vitamin C, as well as dietary fiber; it also
contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as
diindolylmethane and small amounts of selenium. A single serving
provides more than 30 mg of Vitamin C and a half-cup provides 52 mg of
Vitamin C. The 3,3'-Diindolylmethane found in broccoli is a potent
modulator of the innate immune response system with anti-viral,
anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity. Broccoli also contains the
compound glucoraphanin, which can be processed into an anti-cancer
compound sulforaphane, though the benefits of broccoli are greatly
reduced if the vegetable is boiled. Broccoli is also an excellent source
of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and
appears to block the growth of cancer cells.Broccoli has the highest
levels of carotenoids in the brassica family. It is particularly rich in
lutein and also provides beta-carotene.
A high intake of broccoli has been found to reduce the risk of
prostate cancer. Broccoli consumption has also been shown to be
beneficial in the prevention of heart disease. Broccoli consumption is
also associated with malodorous flatulence, due to a high sulfate
Broccoli, raw (edible parts)
value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
||141 kJ (34 kcal)
|- Dietary fiber
Vitamin A equiv.
||31 μg (3%)
||361 μg (3%)
lutein and zeaxanthin
Thiamine (Vit. B1)
||0.071 mg (5%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2)
||0.117 mg (8%)
Niacin (Vit. B3)
||0.639 mg (4%)
Pantothenic acid (B5)
||0.573 mg (11%)
||0.175 mg (13%)
Folate (Vit. B9)
||63 μg (16%)
||89.2 mg (149%)
||0.78 mg (5%)
||101.6 μg (97%)
||47 mg (5%)
||0.73 mg (6%)
||21 mg (6%)
||66 mg (9%)
||316 mg (7%)
||0.41 mg (4%)
|Percentages are relative to US
recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
Broccoli is a cool-weather crop that does poorly in hot summer weather.
Broccoli grows best when exposed to an average daily temperature between
18 and 23 °C (64 and 73 °F). When the cluster of flowers, also referred
to as a "head" of broccoli, appear in the center of the plant, the
cluster is green. Garden pruners or shears are used to cut the head
about an inch from the tip. Broccoli should be cultivated before the
flowers on the head bloom bright yellow.
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