Do you remember the late, great comedian George Carlin joking about eating broccoli if you get a cancer diagnosis? Would it surprise you to learn that he wasn’t far off the mark?
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that many people love to hate. However, this dark green veggie is delicious and offers a plethora of perks. What are the health benefits of broccoli? Here are the top eight ways this food improves your health.
1. May Prevent Cancer
Cancer strikes when the biomechanisms inside your cells go haywire, causing them to multiply at an accelerated rate. Broccoli contains a host of phytonutrients, including sulforaphane, a substance that may prevent metastasis. Consuming three to five servings weekly helps prevent the disease. A 14-year study of nurses showed a decreased incidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among those who consumed more than five servings of cruciferous veggies weekly.
2. Helps to Clean Your Teeth
Broccoli, along with other crudites like carrots and cauliflower, acts as a natural toothbrush. Although people typically serve these as hors d’oeuvres, munching on a few little trees after a meal can help remove stuck food particles from between your teeth. This process benefits your overall health significantly. Periodontal disease can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke and may contribute to dementia.
3. Keeps Your Intestines Moving
Broccoli is full of filling fiber, which benefits your gastrointestinal health. Researchers classify fiber as a prebiotic. Although your body can’t digest it, the beneficial bacteria in your stomach use it as food. Probiotics consist of live bacteria that exist in some foods and replenish your microbiome. You can get both if you whip up a broccoli-and-kraut slaw that is sure to help tame an upset tummy.
4. Preserves Your Vision
Have you heard of lutein and zeaxanthin? These two nutrients are crucial in the battle against oxidation of the retina and age-related macular degeneration. The high antioxidant content of this vegetable also helps your body filter out the ultraviolet rays that can age your eyes. If you want to pump yourself up before your next vision exam, try a bowl of broccoli cheese soup with carrots. The beta-carotene in those veggies completes the eye-care puzzle.
5. Makes Your Skin Glow
The antioxidants in broccoli do more than protect your internal organs from cancer. They can benefit your external appearance, too. When free radicals — molecules that lack an electron — go rogue, they damage healthy cells in their search for a mate. Antioxidants help to mitigate the damaging effects by acting as a shield to prevent cellular damage.
6. Reduces Inflammation
Do you have rheumatoid arthritis or another inflammatory disease? Maybe you have the osteo version of the condition due to age. Either way, the sulforaphane in broccoli could help you retain your mobility. Researchers from East Anglia in the U.K. found that a diet high in this substance can slow down cartilage degeneration in your joints. They are currently investigating whether broccoli bred to contain excess sulforaphane helps those undergoing knee replacement surgery.
7. Supports Blood Sugar Balance
Are you one of the many Americans living with diabetes or prediabetes? If so, you know that maintaining your blood sugar levels is essential to managing your disorder. Broccoli may help you in this endeavor. Because it is high in fiber, it helps slow down the absorption of glucose in your gut, preventing sugar from flooding your bloodstream.
8. Prevents Mental Decline
Broccoli is an incredible source of magnesium. This mineral is essential for preserving the neural synapses that drive thought and memory. Researchers established a causative length between low hippocampal magnesium concentration and impairment of learning in aged rats. If you want to keep your brain younger, eat more broccoli.
9. Strengthens Your Immune System
Even though it’s a green veggie, broccoli contains a hefty dose of vitamin C. This nutrient is crucial for immune system function, and supplementation can decrease the length of the common cold. However, your body absorbs nutrients more effectively from food, and you can add this cruciferous gem to dozens of dishes to increase your intake.
10. Gives You Hardy Bones
Broccoli contains a hefty dose of calcium for a vegetable. It also contains phosphorus and vitamin K, two nutrients vital to bone health. If you want to keep your skeleton hardy and prevent breaks, add some more little trees to your plate.
Enjoy These 10 Health Benefits of Broccoli
You can get a host of health benefits from broccoli for relatively few calories. The next time you want a healthy snack, reach for some crudités and hummus.