Dr Libby on broccoli
The old adage an apple a day keeps the doctor away could easily be changed … to a serving of broccoli a day! Broccoli belongs to the brassica group of vegetables, which are more commonly referred to as cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli is a superstar among green vegetables and an undisputed nutritional champion. Broccoli and other brassicas contain sulforaphane, a molecule that makes these vegetables worth every bite. In clinical studies it has exhibited anticancer properties. Broccoli is also an excellent source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that boosts DNA repair in cells and appears in some clinical studies to block or slow the growth of cancer cells. If you are describing to your children why it is so necessary to eat broccoli perhaps refer to it as a superhero … it’s not far from the truth.
Besides adding flavour to your meals broccoli is also packed with antioxidants, which may help lower the risk of cancer and coronary heart disease. It is also rich in vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, and minerals such as potassium, iron and selenium. One of the essential roles of vitamin K is its involvement in clot formation. Vitamin K represents one of several compounds essential to the coagulation cascade, the series of chemical reactions required to stimulate the formation of a blood clot. So when you cut yourself, vitamin K helps stop the blood from flowing.
Broccoli is so highly regarded because of large amount of nutrition in provides. Our diets are designed to be based on vegetables with smaller proportions of more concentrated foods (low water content), such proteins and carbohydrates, added to this base. So the more you can incorporate broccoli or green vegetables into your diet – the better you will feel for it!
One of my favourite things about winter is that broccoli is in season and it can be used in far more diverse ways than you’d think. From stir-fries to winter salads and dips you can sneak it into most meals. It’s even delicious in mashed potato. If you have terrible childhood memories of eating broccoli that was boiled beyond recognition, rest assured this it not the way to cook it. Boiling broccoli results in the biggest loss of sulfurophane so whenever you can, include it raw, steamed or stir-fried. If you have members of your family who still refuse to eat broccoli, a great option is to use broccoli sprouts. You can use them in sandwiches or salads or to garnish food. They are packed full of powerful phytochemicals and antioxidants.
- Add broccoli to your favourite winter soup to give it a nutritional boost or incorporate in wintry salads.
- Serve as an accompaniment lightly grilled and served with lemon, olive oil and almonds.
- Incorporate broccoli sprouts wherever you can!