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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Broccoli - Health Benefits


Broccoli - Health Benefits

Brassica oleracea
Family:Brassicaceae

Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family, and is closely related to cauliflower. Its cultivation originated in Italy. Broccolo, its Italian name, means "cabbage sprout." Broccoli's name is derived from the Latin word brachium, which means branch or arm, a reflection of its tree-like shape that features a compact head of florets attached by small stems to a larger stalk. Because of its different components, this vegetable provides a complex of tastes and textures, ranging from soft and flowery (the florets) to fibrous and crunchy (the stem and stalk). Its color can range from deep sage to dark green to purplish-green, depending upon the variety. One of the most popular types of broccoli sold in North America is known as Italian green, or Calabrese, named after the Italian province of Calabria where it first grew.  

1. The health benefits of broccoli along with the easy availiability of this super vegetable make it one of our most popular vegetables.

2. Broccoli provides a high amount of vitamin C, which aids iron absorption in the body, prevents the development of cataracts, and also eases the symptoms of the common cold.

3. The folic acid in broccoli helps women sustain normal tissue growth and is often used as a supplement when taking birth control pills and during pregnancies.

4. The potassium in broccoli aids those battling high blood pressure, while a large amount of calcium helps combat osteoporosis.

5. The vegetable is also fiber-rich, which enhances the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, as well as aims to reduce blood cholesterol levels.

6. In recent years, broccoli has made the headlines regarding three components found in the vegetable. For instance, indole-3-carbinol has captured the attention of those looking to prevent hormone-related cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer.

7. I3C promotes "good" hormones, while working against destructive ones. The sulforaphane in broccoli also helps to increase the level of enzymes that block cancer, while the beta-carotene in broccoli transforms into vitamin A within the body, providing an effective antioxidant that destroys free radicals (responsible for weakening the defense of cells).

8. Additionally, the health benefits of broccoli have been linked to preventing and controlling the following medical concerns: Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, calcium deficiencies, stomach and colon cancer, malignant tumors, lung cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and even the aging process.

9. The next time you're shopping for vegetables, note that some broccoli tops appear purplier than others, meaning they possess a higher level of carotenoids, which is better for your health.

10. The health benefits of broccoli are so great that it is one of those foods that should be a regular addition to your menu.

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