By Imelda Unggul

Broccoli, a green vegetable with edible stems, leaves and florets is originally from Italy. It belongs in the cruciferous family like turnips, cabbage and cauliflower. Broccoli is very common in America, Australia and Europe and it grows very well in spring. In the United States, broccoli is the most common vegetable and you can easily find it at most supermarkets throughout the year.Broccoli - Nutrition for the World

Broccoli is the best vegetable that you will ever get. It contains enormous amount of vitamins and minerals that most vegetables do not have. It also contains phytochemicals and is rich in antioxidants which can prevent cancers from developing, especially breast cancer, as it speeds up the removal of estrogen from the body. [Editor's Note: A diet high in many fruits and vegetables, not just broccoli, can help lower the amount of circulating estrogen in the body---partly, this is because we can lower our weight by eating a healthy diet full of vegetables and fruits. Body fat is an additional source of estrogen synthesis, and being overweight is a risk factor for breast cancer. --J. Learn] The high amount of fiber in broccoli can reduce risks for constipation, stomach inflammation, colon cancer and heart disease as it helps reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL). Broccoli is very rich in calcium and though it’s not equal to the amount of calcium in one serving of milk, it’s an important calcium source for those who do not consume dairy products. Calcium is very important for the growth of bones and hence prevents osteoporosis. It is also very high in chromium, which is good to regulate the levels of blood sugar and insulin. Being high in beta-carotene, broccoli lowers the risk of cataracts and heart attacks. Broccoli is also very helpful to pregnant women as it is rich in folic acid which helps to prevent birth defects and promote the growth of normal tissue.

A study done by researchers in Columbus, Ohio shows that broccoli might help in the slowing down the progress of bladder cancer. Isothiocyanates is a compound found in broccoli that the researchers believed help in slowing down the cancer.

Broccoli is best when eaten raw. However, if you don’t like it raw, you can steam it, microwave or stir-fry it. Boiling broccoli may not be the best option as you will lose the water soluble minerals in the broccoli. Additionally, overcooking broccoli reduces the vital nutrients and vitamins, especially vitamin C. If you do not enjoy eating raw broccoli, try eating them with a dip such as ranch or French onion. If you really do not like broccoli, raw or cooked, you can try other cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, and many other vegetables) as all of them contains disease-fighting phytochemicals.

Lastly, when buying broccoli, remember to choose the one of darker color (purplish color) in the "flower" part, as it contains more beta-carotene which is good for your health.

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