Broccoli (Brassica oleracea) is a cruciferous vegetable related to cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Broccoli is high in many nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium. It also boasts more protein than most other vegetables. This green veggie can be enjoyed both raw and cooked, but recent research shows that gentle steaming provides the most health benefits.
Cancer prevention : Cancer is characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal cells and is often linked to oxidative stress (22Trusted Source). Broccoli is loaded with compounds that are believed to protect against cancer. Observational studies suggest that the consumption of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, is linked to a reduced risk of many cancers, including lung, colorectal, breast, prostate, pancreatic, and gastric cancers. A unique family of plant compounds called isothiocyanates sets cruciferous vegetables apart from other veggies.
Studies suggest that Isothiocyanates affect liver enzymes, reduce oxidative stress, decrease inflammation, stimulate your immune system, and combat the development and growth of cancer. The main isothiocyanate in broccoli, sulforaphane, acts against the formation of cancer at the molecular level by reducing oxidative stress. Sulforaphane occurs at 20–100 times higher amounts in young broccoli sprouts than in full-grown heads of this vegetable. Though broccoli supplements are also available, they may not contribute an equivalent amount of isothiocyanates and thus may not give the same health benefits as eating whole, fresh broccoli (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).
Lower cholesterol levels : Cholesterol has many important functions in your body. For example, it is a key factor in the formation of bile acids, which help you digest fat. Bile acids are formed in your liver, stored in your gallbladder, and released into your digestive system whenever you eat fat. Afterward, the bile acids are reabsorbed into your bloodstream and used again. Substances in broccoli bind with bile acids in your gut, increasing their excretion and preventing them from being reused. This results in the synthesis of new bile acids from cholesterol, reducing total levels of this marker in your body. This effect has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. According to one study, steamed broccoli is particularly useful for lowering cholesterol levels.
Eye health : Impaired eyesight is a common consequence of aging. Two of the main carotenoids in broccoli, lutein and zeaxanthin, are associated with a decreased risk of age-related eye disorders. Vitamin A deficiency may cause night blindness, which can be reversed with improved vitamin A status. Broccoli contains beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. This vegetable may thus boost eyesight in individuals with a low vitamin A intake.