This popular cruciferous vegetable packs a nutritional punch.

Jessica Ball, M.S., R.D.
August 27, 2020
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This common veg sometimes gets a bad rep, but we are here in defense of broccoli. Broccoli is super versatile and flavorful, especially when paired with cheese (looking at you, Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche). It is delicious, nutritious and is packed with several health benefits. From helping to promote a healthy heart to keeping your brain sharp, here are four more reasons to enjoy broccoli today.

Broccoli Nutrition

Broccoli is packed with several vitamins and nutrients, but there are a few worth calling out. One serving provides more than the daily recommended amount of vitamins C and K, which help keep your immune system healthy and your blood pressure balanced, respectively. It is also a good source of folate and vitamin A, which are important nutrients for pregnant women. The nutrition for 1 cup of raw broccoli is as follows:

  • Calories: 30

  • Protein: 2g

  • Fat: 0g

  • Carbohydrate: 6g

  • Sugars: 2g

  • Fiber: 2g

  • Sodium: 29mg

Health Benefits of Broccoli

From head to gut, here are some of the reasons why broccoli is worth a place on your plate.

Boosts Brain Health

To stay sharp, munch on broccoli. One 2015 study found that those who ate one to two servings of dark leafy green vegetables had the mental abilities of those over a decade younger. Talk about the fountain of youth. More recent studies done in mice have found similar results on broccoli's anti-aging and neuro-protective effects.

Helps Your Heart

It is probably no surprise that there is ample evidence supporting vegetables as heart-healthy foods. However, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are in a league of their own when it comes to heart health. Broccoli has a ton of nutrients and antioxidants packed into a small serving, meaning you don't need to eat much to get the nutrients your heart needs. It is also a great source of vitamin K, which is important for a healthy blood pressure and healthy blood clotting (as in, vitamin K helps stop the bleeding when you cut yourself). A study published in 2020 found that vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts can help prevent and manage blood vessel disease as well. Some of broccoli's heart healthy benefits could be attributed to its anti-inflammatory qualities.

Protects Against Cancer

A healthy, balanced diet is one of the best ways to prevent diseases like heart disease and diabetes—and even some types of cancer. Certain foods, like broccoli, are particularly beneficial in that arena. A recent study in Cancer Treatments Review found that broccoli and other dark leafy green vegetables release secondary plant products that have anti-cancer potential in our bodies. Other recent reviews have found that a potential mechanism of this is that the compounds found in broccoli can neutralize carcinogens and prevent cancer cells from growing and spreading.

Fights Inflammation

Broccoli, like many cruciferous vegetables, is packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants protect cells from damage and stress that creates inflammation and increases chronic disease risk over time. A recent study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics found that women who ate more cruciferous vegetables like broccoli had lower levels of inflammation in their blood. Another recent study conducted in mice echoed the findings of broccoli consumption lower levels of inflammation, this time in the mice's brain. Other studies have found these protective effects extend to the gut and microbiome.

Bottom Line

Regardless of if you like it chopped in our Mediterranean Broccoli Pasta Salad or roasted with ample amounts of Parmesan, broccoli is a food you can feel good about eating regularly. It has numerous health benefits from protecting against cancer to fighting inflammation, and is packed with vitamins and nutrients. As an added bonus, broccoli is super versatile and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Check out our Best-Ever Broccoli recipes for more inspiration.