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All about “Broccoli”

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Nutritional value of broccoli

  Raw broccoli, chopped, ½ cup (125 ml) / 45 g Boiled broccoli, drained, chopped ½ cup (125 mL) / 80 g Frozen broccoli, boiled, drained, chopped, ½ cup (125 mL) / 95 g
Calories 16 29 27
Protein 1.3 g 2.0 g 3.0g
Carbohydrates 3.1g 5.9 g 5.2 g
Fat 0.2g 0.3 g 0.1g
Dietary fiber 1.1 g 2.0 g 2.3 g
Glycemic load  : Low
Antioxidant power  : Moderate for raw broccoli; weak for cooked broccoli

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2010.

Broccoli: understand everything in 2 min

Health profile of broccoli

  The broccoli is a vegetable of the family of crucifers. It contains lots of vitamin C . The bioactive compounds it contains have anti-cancer effects . To taste it at its best and get maximum benefits , it is better to consume raw or lightly cooked .

The benefits of broccoli

Several epidemiological studies have shown that a high consumption of vegetables and fruits decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases 39 , certain cancers 40 and other chronic diseases , 2,41 . The presence of antioxidants in vegetables and fruits could play a role in this protection.

  • Cancer . Several studies have shown that regular consumption of vegetables from the cruciferous family (for example broccoli , cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) could prevent certain cancers 9 , such as those of the lung, ovaries , the prostate 43 and kidneys 3-5 . Broccoli, consumed at least a few times a week, could in particular be associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer 10,11 , stomach 10 , lung 12 , prostate 43 , 44and even breast cancer in premenopausal women 13 .

    A recent study found that regular consumption of broccoli can increase the chances of survival from bladder cancer . 45

    Epidemiological studies indicate that vegetables from the cruciferous family, including broccoli, provide more protection against several types of cancer than fruits and vegetables in general 46 .
    Several studies show that consuming 3 to 5 servings of cruciferous plants per week provides significant protection against cancer 46 .

  • Cardiovascular health . A daily consumption of cruciferous plants is associated with a lower blood concentration of homocysteine 6 , which would decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease 7 . In postmenopausal women, consumption of broccoli is associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease 14 . Consumption of 5 or more servings of broccoli has been shown to

    per week (one serving = 125 ml of cooked broccoli or 250 ml of raw broccoli) in women significantly reduced the risk of death caused by cardiovascular disease compared to a low intake of broccoli (75 ml of cooked broccoli or 125 ml of broccoli raw per week) 48 .

    In addition, a reduction in mortality due to cardiovascular disease has been observed in women with high intakes of kaempferol 48 , a flavonoid found mainly in broccoli and tea. Several epidemiological studies have observed a reduction in the risks of certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases with a high intake of kaempferol 49 .

  • Eye health . Several studies indicate that a regular intake of lutein and zeaxanthin is associated with a lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, two eye diseases 16 , 18 . These two carotenoids, abundant in broccoli, accumulate in the macula and retina of the eye 16 , 17 , thus protecting it from oxidative stress which could cause it damage.
  • Memory . A study in older women concluded that eating cruciferous plants would slow cognitive decline 8 .

What does broccoli contain?


Broccoli contains lutein and zeaxanthin , two antioxidant compounds in the carotenoid family 15 , 16 . One serving of cooked broccoli (½ cup or 125 ml) contains more lutein and zeaxanthin than raw broccoli. For comparison, (1 cup or 250 ml) raw spinach, a vegetable rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, contains 3 times more than cooked broccoli. These compounds could help prevent certain cancers 50 , including those of the breast and lung and participate in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases 16. However, it should be noted that studies on the consumption of antioxidants in connection with the prevention of cardiovascular disease are still contradictory 51 .

The antioxidant capacity of broccoli decreases during storage 52 . It can even decrease by more than 50% after the maximum storage time (i.e. when the broccoli has visual deterioration).


Like most cruciferous vegetables , broccoli contains glucosinolates 19 . Broccoli glucosinolates have the capacity to transform into active molecules ( sulforaphane , indole-3-carbinol and 3,3-diindolylmethane) when the food containing them is chopped, chewed or in contact with the bacterial flora intestinal 22 , 24 . Several of these molecules are believed to help limit the development of certain cancers 21-23 , 53-55 , including breast cancer 54 .

Studies have shown that 20 storage and cookingbroccoli resulted in loss of glucosinolates 42 and overcooking reduced sulforaphane formation 26 . It would therefore be preferable to consume this lightly cooked vegetable in a small amount of water or sauteed in a pan. A moderate cooking would optimize the formation of bioactive compounds.

Consumption of raw broccoli results in faster absorption of sulforaphane and an increase in its bioavailability compared to cooked broccoli 56 .

  • Sulforaphane . Broccoli is one of the main sources of a glucosinolate called glucoraphanin 25 . Under the action of myrosinase, glucoraphanin transforms into an active isothiocyanate called sulforaphane . Researchers have observed that broccoli naturally contains a protein which interferes with the formation of this compound, but that moderate cooking makes it possible to deactivate this protein, which would give more freedom to the formation of sulforaphane 26 . On the other hand, these researchers also noticed that overcooking reduced the formation of sulforaphane 26 .
  • Indole-3-carbinol and 3,3-diindolylmethane . Indole-3-carbinol is another active compound from a glucosinolate found in broccoli and other crucifers. In the body, indole-3-carbinol can in turn transform into 3,3-diindolylmethane .
  • active compounds in broccoli (sulforaphanes and indole-3-carbinol) have also been shown to have a beneficial effect on the formation of tumors in animals 19 , 27 , by limiting the growth of cancer cells 28 and promoting their self-destruction 29 , 30-34 . In addition, sulforaphane has been observed to have the capacity to reduce colonization 47 and destroy H. Pylori 29 in animals, but also in humans 47 . The H. pylori is a bacterium that can infect the stomach and cause of ulcerand human cancer. Some results also demonstrate a beneficial effect of indole-3-carbinol against cancer of the uterus or bladder 35 . However, more research is needed before confirming these results in humans 36 .

Main vitamins and minerals

Excellent source Vitamin C Boiled broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C. Raw broccoli and frozen broccoli are excellent sources for women and good sources for men .
Excellent source Vitamin K Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin K.
Good source Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) Boiled broccoli and frozen broccoli are sources of vitamin B2 .
Good source Vitamin B9 (folate) Boiled broccoli is a good source of vitamin B9, while raw broccoli and frozen broccoli are sources .
Source Vitamin A Boiled broccoli and frozen broccoli are sources of vitamin A.
Source Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) Broccoli is a source of vitamin B5.
Source Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) Broccoli is a source of vitamin B6.
Source Vitamin E Boiled broccoli and frozen broccoli are sources of vitamin E.
Source Copper Boiled broccoli is a source of copper .
Source Iron Boiled broccoli and frozen broccoli are sources of iron for humans only.
Source Magnesium Boiled broccoli is a source of magnesium for women only.
Source Manganese Boiled broccoli and frozen broccoli are sources of manganese while raw broccoli is a source for women only.
Source Phosphorus Boiled broccoli and frozen broccoli are sources of phosphorus .
Source Potassium Boiled broccoli is a source of potassium .



Crucifers, broccoli, hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer

1. Are cruciferous plants, including broccoli, to be avoided if you suffer from hypothyroidism?
In the light of current knowledge, there should be no reason to moderate consumption of cruciferous vegetables in the event of hypothyroidism, unless blood tests indicate an iodine deficiency.
Explanation. Cruciferous vegetables are part of the family of “goitrogenic” foods which are said to be able to hinder the use of iodine by the thyroid gland. However, cruciferous plants are still good for health, it is not recommended to remove them completely from your diet, but only to cook them lightly in order to reduce the activity of the goitrogenic molecules.

2. Is there a link between brassicas and thyroid cancer?
Crucifers naturally contain thioglucosides, substances thought to be linked to cancer of the thyroid gland.
What science says. Diets that contain very large amounts of cruciferous vegetables (vegetables that belong to the cabbage family, including broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts) can prevent the body from absorbing iodine and thus increase the risk thyroid cancer 37 . Diets high in raw vegetables other than cruciferous vegetables slightly lower the risk of thyroid cancer.

Vitamin K and anticoagulants

Broccoli contains a high amount of vitamin K, which is necessary, among other things, for blood clotting. People taking anticoagulant drugs , (Coumadin®, Warfilone® and Sintrom®), should eat a diet whose vitamin K content is relatively stable from day to day. Broccoli is part of a list of foods (asparagus, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, watercress, spinach, etc.) that should be eaten in moderation. It is strongly advised that people on anticoagulation therapy consult a dietitian-nutritionist or a doctor in order to know the food sources of vitamin K and to ensure a daily intake as stable as possible.

Irritable bowel syndrome . Some people with irritable bowel syndrome may experience intolerance to crucifers, such as broccoli, to varying degrees. Limiting or avoiding fermentable foods like those of the cruciferous family can reduce symptoms (abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea) in people with this syndrome. When the symptoms are mild, or during periods known as “remission”, it is sometimes possible to gradually reinstate these foods, always respecting individual tolerance.

Interaction between crucifers and certain drugs . The indoles , compounds naturally present in cruciferous may reduce in particular the action of some analgesics such as products containing acetaminophen (Tylenol®, Atasol®, Tempra) and other drugs combining a mixture of ingredients active ingredients (Benylin®, Contac®, Robaxacet®). People who consume a large amount of cruciferous plants should take this into consideration.

Health profile
Scientific research and revision
 under the supervision of Louise Corneau, Dt.P., M.Sc., nutritionist, Institute of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods (INAF), Université Laval.
Update : December 2014


Recipe ideas

Millet couscous with 7 vegetables and tofu

  • Broccoli cream . Brown a little onion in the oil, add the broccoli and cook everything in chicken or vegetable broth and milk. Go to the blender and serve.
  • Milanese-style . Cook the broccoli, then put it in a buttered dish previously sprinkled with grated cheese. Also sprinkle the surface of the broccoli. Add a few small pieces of butter and brown in the oven.
with broccoli
  • Add to an omelet , custard , quiche or soufflé . Why not with olives?
  • Serve the cold leftovers in a salad with a vinaigrette.
  • Make jump broccoli with thin slices of beef, mushrooms, water chestnuts, grated ginger and soy sauce.
  • Serve over pasta with smoked salmon or over fried rice with nuts, hazelnuts or toasted almonds.
  • Coat broccoli pieces with batter and serve with other vegetables in tempura .
  • To prepare an authentic Chinese dish , cut Gai Lon into pieces and sauté for 1 minute in a wok. Add a little water, cook for 2 more minutes, then dilute a little oyster sauce in the liquid. Serve with some of the liquid.
  • You can germinate broccoli, rapini or Gai Lon seeds at home, just like you do for alfalfa. Ready in 5 or 6 days, add the young shoots to salads, sandwiches, etc. Obtain untreated seeds, preferably sold for this purpose and not as seeds.

Choice and conservation

To access other recipes, you can go to the cooking recipes site, which offers, among others, the following recipes : broccoli recipes , broccoli gratin, steamed broccoli

To choose

Choose broccoli with firm stems and a compact head. The yellow flowers are a sign that it is not the first freshness and that it will certainly have a bitter flavor .

The stems are consumed. Peel them and cut them lengthwise so that they take the same time to cook as the buds.

Broccoli is generally overcooked, which becomes pasty, unappetizing, and loses some of its properties. Preferably steam it, leaving it crunchy. It will thus be better and richer in nutrients.

Broccoli with red florets loses its color when cooked. If you care about the color, you will serve it raw, as a dip for example.

The rapini (broccoli or Italian) is consumed with stems and leaves, and requires only a very short cooking.


Refrigerator . Four or five days in the vegetable drawer.

Freezer . Blanch it for five minutes in boiling water, cool it in ice water, drain and put in freezer bags.

Lacto-fermentation . Just like cabbage, it can be made into sauerkraut. Use the stems rather than the heads and finely chop.

The little story of broccoli

Common name: broccoli.
Scientific name: Brassica oleracea, var. botrytis .                                              
Family  : cruciferous (brassicaceae).

The term “broccoli” comes from the Italian brocco which means “arm or branch on which the head rests” or “sprouts of cabbage”.

There is a species called “broccoli-turnip”, “Italian broccoli” or rapini , but which, in reality, belongs to the botanical genus of turnip ( Brassica rapa , var. Ruvo ). In addition, one can find in Asian markets a variety called “Chinese broccoli” ( Brassica oleracea alboglabra ) or Gai Lon . Again, it is not strictly speaking a broccoli since it does not belong to the same species.

Broccoli comes from the same wild ancestor as the borécole , with which it shares the name, with some variations. Broccoli was selected around the same time, one or two centuries before our era. It was in the south of Italy, more precisely in the province of Calabria, that he was born. The Romans grew it and enjoyed it. However, it seems that he disappeared from the scene with the decline of their empire. It was reintroduced in Italy at the XVI th  century, from Crete or the eastern Mediterranean. It then spread to northern Europe, where it was once called “Italian asparagus”, a name which still persists in certain descriptions.

Introduced in England around 1720, it will take the path of North America at the time of colonization. Until the 1930s, however, he left almost everyone indifferent, except members of the Italian communities. The latter cultivate many green, white and red varieties. Then, we will discover him medicinal virtues and he will end up imposing himself, to the point of outclassing the inevitable headed cabbage.

Generally green, the heads of broccoli can also be purple red or white , depending on the variety.

Organic gardening

The culture of broccoli is much the same as that of cabbage (see Cabbage) and the problems the gardener faces are also the same. However, broccoli is more likely to be grown in the summer , as it can, to some extent, tolerate heat. It can therefore be sown from spring until autumn. On the other hand, if the heat wave persists, it risks going up in seeds, which makes it bitter. As for rapini and Gai Lon , they grow very quickly and can be sown several times during the season.

Ecology and environment

According to Agriculture Canada, ozone , one of the main air pollutants, causes damage to the broccoli leaves when they are growing. This gas would directly destroy part of the tissue or make it susceptible to late blight , an increasingly common fungal disease. Result: the broccoli apples are smaller and the yields are lower.

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