Broccoli the Wonder Food

by Raelle Connolly

Broccoli has been around since the Roman Empire, that’s over 2,000 years!

Botanically known as Brassica oleracea italica, broccoli is native to the Mediterranean region and is part of the cabbage family. It is believed that the ancient Etruscans were the horticultural geniuses who engineered broccoli from cabbage.

When broccoli was first introduced into England, it was referred to as "Italian asparagus". Although commercial cultivation of broccoli dates back to the 1500s, it did not become popular in the United States until the early 1920s.

Broccoli is one of the most nutrient rich foods and it is low in calories and the vitamins and minerals aren't just found in trace amounts. Broccoli contains more vitamin C than many citrus fruits, is higher in protein than a sirloin steak on a 

gram for gram basis, has more calcium than an entire glass of milk and is a richer source of fibre than whole wheat bread.

Broccoli contains both water- and fat-soluble fibre. This means both the fat-soluble vitamins – A, E and K – and water-soluble vitamins – B and C – are more easily absorbed.

Broccoli also contains glucosinolates and phyto-chemicals such as diindolylmethane and isothiocyanates which are considered to have antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer effects.

Broccoli has demonstrated its remarkable anticancer effects, especially with breast cancer. Glucosinolates, specifically indole-3-carbinol and sulphuraphane, increases the excretion of a form of estrogen (2-hydroxyestrone), which has been shown to be linked to breast cancer. In preliminary studies, Indole-3-carbinol has also been shown to arrest the growth of both breast and prostate cancer cells. Sulphuraphane boosts the production of an enzyme known to neutralize carcinogens before they trigger tumour growth.

Studies have also shown that broccoli can increase the ability of the liver to detoxify toxic compounds and decreases the growth of human papillomavirus (a virus linked to cervical cancer).

At the prestigious John Hopkins University, studies have shown that broccoli contains compounds that trigger the body to produce a substance (sulphuraphane) that manufactures enzymes which are powerful cancer fighters. These cancer-fighting compounds are released during the chewing process and 

(sulphuraphane) that manufactures enzymes which are powerful cancer fighters. These cancer-fighting compounds are released during the chewing process and

Broccoli is also known to be beneficial in the prevention of heart disease and is a low-glycemic index food which helps to normalise blood sugar. A key to weight loss and therefore the prevention of certain diseases is controlling the body's response to insulin. Broccoli boosts the enzymes, which help to detoxify the body and detoxification leads to weight loss.

Broccoli sprouts are even better than just eating broccoli alone. Due to the changes that happen at germination, sprouts are exceptionally high in nutrients and proteins and there is never a time after germination through to maturity of the plant when the vitamins and minerals are at a higher level.

Amazing things happen to seeds when they start to germinate, they are like little dynamos that contain a treasure trove of latent energy in the form of proteins, fats, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals.  At a mere three days old, they contain at least 20 times as much disease-fighting sulphuraphane glucosinolate (SGS) as the mature plant and SGS has been shown to kill tumors.