benefits of broccoli

Some of the Proven Health Benefits of Broccoli

In this article we will reveal the truth about the false assumptions about broccoli, there are rumors that it tastes bad, and NO, a big NO, you just need t learn new recipes for cooking it, Now that we have made that clear we can move on to the actual purpose of this article, which is discussing the actual benefits of broccoli.

Broccoli also contains folic acid which is essential for babies during their intrauterine development; it also contains a large set of variable types of vitamins like vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin B complex which are important for a better health and general condition, also improve the hair and skin.
Nutrients Found in Broccoli

What is the Best Way to Eat Broccoli?

Different methods of cooking the broccoli affect the level of glucosinolates which is metabolized into isothiocyanates, isothiocyanates is a cancer preventive substance, researchers examined the effect of boiling, steaming, microwave cooking and stir-fry.

They found that boiling lead to major loss of nutrients and isothiocyanates, however steaming, microwave cooking and stir-frying.

Stir-frying up to 5 minutes was found to have the least destructive effect on the broccoli.

Protection of the DNA from Damage

Broccoli protects the cellular DNA from damage by 2 mechanisms that we are going to discuss below [1] :

  • Decrease the level of oxidants especially H2O2 and free radicals, and decrease the damage caused by oxidants through the presence of anti-oxidants like vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin K) and other phyto-derivatives.
  • It also increases the resistance of the cells to the damage and enhances the cell protection.
  • But beware that this effect only lasts for a while, this is not a permanent effect and continues consumption of broccoli is mandatory to maintain this effect (200 gm\day).
Effect of Broccoli on Cancer Prevention

Effect of Broccoli on Cancer Prevention 

Breast cancer 

Researchers found that consumption of broccoli in postmenopausal women decreases the risk of developing breast cancer in the future; broccoli achieves that effect through inhibition of phase 1 of the cell cycle [2].

To understand this effect we are going to go through the cell cycle quickly if a cell is going to duplicate, it goes through multiple phases. First, the cell increases in size significantly, and then the DNA duplicate and the final step is separation and dividing the mother cell into two identical cells [3].

In cancer, the process we discussed above is very fast, broccoli slows down this division process which gives it its protective effect against cancer.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is one of the commonest cancers worldwide, researchers found that selenium has a protective effect against colon cancer, especially the selenium found in broccoli as it doesn't accumulate in cells and doesn't lead to toxicity [4].

Anti-diabetic Effect of Broccoli

Anti-diabetic Effect of Broccoli

Prevention of Diabetes

Scientists found that consuming broccoli regularly decreases the risk of developing diabetes mellitus type 2 in the future; however, the mechanism is not very clear yet [5].

Reverse the Damaging Effect of Diabetes on the Heart

Researchers applied the sulforaphane extract found in broccoli directly on damaged blood vessels in the lab, and the result was very good, as the sulforaphane stimulated the production of protective enzymes in the damaged blood vessels.

However, those studies are not very reliable, as the natural sulforaphane found in broccoli is not as concentrated as the extract produced in the research lab, and the blood vessels used in the experiment were damaged and sugar was added to its wall but wasn't from a diabetic patient [6].

But this study drops a light on the potential therapeutic uses of broccoli for that matter.

Broccoli for Healthier Bones

Broccoli for Healthier Bones

Increase the Bone Density

Bacteria are not always harmful, certain types of bacteria found in the gut have a huge contribution to your health, for example, bifidobacterium found in broccoli have a good effect on your bone through various mechanisms, it decreases the gut inflammation, thus enhance the absorption of nutrients, makes the calcium more soluble and counteract the depressing effect of phytate on its absorption [7].

Broccoli also has high calcium content, and calcium is the main mineral used in building the bone.

Fighting Osteoarthritis

Broccoli is rich in sulpharone, new studies on mice showed that consumption of sulpharone is associated with a slower rate of destruction of the cartilage, thus protecting against osteoarthritis and slow its progression [8].

Fighting Osteoporosis 

Broccoli contains a large amount of calcium which increases the density and the strength of the bones, some studies also show that vitamin K builds the bones too, menopause and decrease in estrogen lead to decrease bone density and osteoporosis, broccoli may fight this effect in postmenopausal women.

Teeth Health 

Broccoli contains a high level of calcium and vitamin K which help to keep your teeth strong.

Broccoli Effect on Gut Health

Broccoli Effect on Gut Health

Prevent constipation 

Broccoli is rich in fibers, fibers enhance the digestion, improve the gut motility and help in bulk form in the intestine, and those 3 effects combined reduce constipation significantly.

Natural Detoxification

The gastrointestinal tract contains food waste, bile, and bacteria (usually useful but bacterial overgrowth may lead to the unfavorable effect), eating high fiber diet lead to flushing out all the harmful contents of the gut.

Effect of Broccoli on Cholesterol Level 

Broccoli contains a large number of fibers both soluble and insoluble fibers, soluble fibers bind to free cholesterol in the blood making it easier to excrete.

Broccoli benefits for eye health

The dark green color of broccoli is coming from the presence of special types of carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin, those two substances happened to be part of the components of both the retina and the lens, they help the eye by filtering the blue light and they have powerful antioxidant properties.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin show huge potential in treating and preventing numerous eye diseases like cataract, retinitis pigmentosa, and macular degeneration, but further studies are needed [9].

Effect of Broccoli on Heart Health

Effect of Broccoli on Heart Health

Decrease Homocysteine Levels in the Blood

Accumulation of homocysteine (Amino acid found in red meat)in the blood increases the risk of coronary artery diseases, studies showed that food rich in vitamin B complex helps in regulation of homocysteine level in the blood and increase its excretion out of the body [10].

 Decrease the Cholesterol Level

We discussed the mechanism before, but you need to understand how important this effect is, cholesterol binds to the blood vessels walls forming layers and layers of sticky lipids, those lipids by the time aggregate more and more platelets around it, this is the core of the thrombus, if it detached it will lead to thrombosis.

Lowering the cholesterol also helps with slowing down atherosclerosis.

Broccoli reduces chronic inflammation

Inflammation occurs as a result of exposure to allergens, the allergens provoke the immune system to release histamine, interleukins and various other mediators.

Broccoli contains isothiocyanates, omega 3 and flavonoids which interfere with the inflammatory pathway, in other words, they decrease the release of the mediators and decrease the inflammation.

Broccoli can be useful in chronic inflammatory conditions especially in the gastrointestinal tract.

Broccoli and Pregnancy

Broccoli and Pregnancy

Source of Folic Acid 

Getting a 400 mg of folic acid from natural non-fortified food is a hard job, the mother should eat various types of folic acid rich food, broccoli contains a good amount of folic acid, folic acid prevents some of the congenital anomalies in children like Spina Bifida and anencephaly.

Source of Different Vitamins and Minerals

Good nutrition during pregnancy is mandatory for delivering a healthy child and keep the mother from getting weaker through and after pregnancy, broccoli is rich in calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin E and vitamin K.

Broccoli and Bleeding Disorders

Vitamin K is the precursors of multiple clotting factors; vitamin k deficiency may lead to catastrophic results and uncontrolled bleeding if the patient is suffering from a bleeding disorder or going under surgery [11].

Broccoli is a rich source of vitamin K, eating broccoli before surgery, during pregnancy and in patients with bleeding disorders, would be of great help.

Benefits of Broccoli for skin

Benefits of Broccoli for skin

Delay Aging

Broccoli is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, they decrease the damaging effect of ultraviolet rays and other sun rays, delaying skin aging and wrinkling.

Broccoli is also rich in nicotinamide mononucleotide which is a substance used to generate energy, it is believed that nicotinamide mononucleotide delays some of the aging signs by enhancing the metabolism.

Fighting Acne 

Broccoli contains a high level of vitamins and antioxidants especially vitamin C which promote skin healing and decrease the hyperpigmented marks left from pimples.

Benefits of Broccoli for Hair

Contribution to Hair Health

Broccoli contains large amounts of multiple vitamins like vitamin E, vitamin C, folic acid and trace amounts of iron, those vitamins increase the blood flow to the hair and works as antioxidants, vitamin c, and vitamin E particularly increase the sebum production making the hair more moisturized.

Broccoli Seeds Oil

Broccoli seeds oil is applied topically, it is beneficial as it contains a large amount of eurcic acid [12], this acid is similar to the silicone found in shampoos, it softens the hair and gives it a nice shine.

Benefits of Broccoli for Mental Health

Impairment of thinking, feeling and other cognitive functions is the hallmark of various diseases like schizophrenia, the disease occurs through decrease of GABA level which is inhibitory neurotransmitter [13], Broccoli is rich in sulforaphane which works as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and decreases the levels of neuronal damage, thus, has a protective effect on the brain in both adults and youth [14].

Do Not Eat Broccoli If You Have Those Diseases

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome occurs due to changes in bowel movement, it either increases leading to diarrhea or decrease leading to constipation. In both cases, irritable bowel syndrome is associated with increased gas production in the colon and abdominal pain. Broccoli is known to increase the gas production too, eating broccoli may worsen the pain of irritable bowel syndrome.

Hypothyroidism 

Broccoli is one of the major sources of glucosinolate, glucosinolate is converted into goitrogenic materials like thiocyanate high inhibits synthesis of thyroid hormones, so broccoli itself if consumed in large amounts, may lead to hypothyroidism [15]. So, you can understand why it is absolutely contraindicated to eat in hypothyroidism patient.

However, some studies show that cooking broccoli may decrease its goitrogenic effect [16].

Possible Side Effects of Broccoli

Possible Side Effects of Broccoli

Allergic Reaction

Broccoli may cause skin rash and allergic reaction when applied topically [17].

Gastric Upset

Broccoli increases the level of gaseous production in the colon and the abdominal distention leading to abdominal pain.

Pregnancy and Lactation 

It is advised to consume broccoli in a moderate level during pregnancy and lactation, however, it is mostly safe to eat broccoli in pregnancy in any amount, but no studies show the effect of high consumption level off broccoli on pregnancy.

Final Conclusion 

Broccoli is a very important vegetable to be included in the diet, it has a powerful effect in fighting cancer by reducing stress oxidation and it also contains a very high level of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin K which is crucial for maintaining healthy bone and teeth.

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Some of the Proven Health Benefits of Broccoli
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