Broccoli: the powerhouse of nutrition in flowering crest like a cabbage
Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens, rutabaga and turnips. These nutrition powerhouses supply loads of nutrients for little calories. If you are trying to eat healthier, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli should be at the very top of your grocery list. If you or your kids are not big fans of broccoli, be sure to read the how to incorporate more broccoli into your diet section for tips and delicious recipes. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database6, one cup of chopped raw broccoli (approximately 91 grams) contains 31 calories, 0 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrate (including 2 grams of sugar and 2 grams of fiber) and 3 grams of protein. Just one cup of broccoli provides over 100% of your daily need for vitamin C and vitamin K and is also a good source of vitamin A, folate and potassium. Broccoli ranks among the top 20 foods in regards to ANDI score (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index), which measures vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient content in relation to caloric content. To earn high rank, a food must provide a high amount of nutrients for a small amount of calories. Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like broccoli decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and overall lower weight. Eating a high amount of cruciferous vegetables has been associated with a lower risk of cancer; namely lung and colon cancer. Studies have suggested that sulforaphane, the sulfur-containing compound that gives cruciferous vegetables their bitter bite, is also what gives them their cancer-fighting power. Researchers have found that sulforaphane can inhibit the enzyme histone deacetylase (HDAC), known to be involved in the progression of cancer cells. The ability to stop HDAC enzymes could make sulforaphane-containing foods a potentially powerful part of cancer treatment in the future. Sulforaphane is now being studied for its ability to delay or impede cancer with promising results shown in melanoma, esophageal, prostate and pancreatic cancers. Other easily recognized cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, turnips and cabbage, as well as the lesser-known arugula, broccolini, daikon, kohlrabi and watercress. Another important vitamin that broccoli contains, folate, has been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer in women. Adequate intake of dietary folate (in food) has also shown promise in protecting against colon, stomach, pancreatic and cervical cancers. Although the mechanism of protection is currently unknown, researchers believe that folate's protective effects have something to do with its role in DNA and RNA production and the prevention of unwanted mutations. There is no evidence that folate in supplement form provides the same anti-cancer benefits.
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