In the alphabet of nutrition, carrots are for vitamin A. Milk is for Vitamin D. Spinach is for vitamin E. But, what is for vitamin K?
With a form taking the semblance of a tree, broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that is a part of the cabbage family. Its outward appearance is especially akin to that of the cauliflower’s. However, what separate it from the other vegetables are its darker green florets and much firmer stalk. While the florets take on a soft texture, the stalk tends to be crunchy. Moreover, the vegetable is perceived to have a bitter taste; but, with a sprinkle of pepper, a pinch of salt and even a dose of dressing, it becomes a flavorful ingredient to simple dishes such as Curried Broccoli Couscous,Broccoli and Olives Salad.
About Broccoli Nutrition Facts:
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the nutritional value of one cup chopped broccoli is as follows. It contains 31 kilocalories- equivalent to one-third of the kilocalories contributed by one cup of rice! Its kilocalorie or energy content mainly comes from its protein and carbohydrate content. Having 2.82 grams of protein, it provides about 4% to 5% of the Percent Nutrient Adequacy Ratio (%NAR) or the ratio of the amount of actual nutrient intake to the amount of recommended nutrient intake. Although these numbers appear quite low in value, broccoli boasts of a high nutritional value in terms of micronutrients. As for fat content, health conscious individuals will be pleased to know that broccoli contains zero grams of fat! Regardless if it is trans-fat or the desired omega-3 fatty acids, broccoli has none of it.
From the same serving of broccoli, about 2.6g of total dietary fiber is available, contributing to 20% NAR of an average healthy individual. This type of fiber coming from broccoli is an insoluble fiber, capable of aiding in good digestion. Plus, the total dietary fiber plays an important role in minimizing an individual’s risk for cardiovascular diseases. It binds to LDL cholesterol or the bad cholesterol and makes it vulnerable to elimination via excretion. On a good note, dietary fiber promotes the increase in levels of HDL cholesterol or the good cholesterol.
What’s more, broccoli contributes significant amounts of antioxidants, which diminish the risk of developing cancer by binding to harmful free radicals in the body. It provides 81.2 mg vitamin C(90% NAR), 567µg vitamin A (63%NAR) and 84% µg vitamin K(NAR). In fact, above all other vegetables, broccoli is the richest source of vitamin K, the vitamin responsible for blood clotting. Minerals such as potassium and phosphorus are bioavailable in broccoli in considerable amounts also, even exceeding the recommended %NAR of 100%.
To maximize the nutrients that can be obtained from broccoli, the following are some helpful handling tips that one can follow. It is advised that the vegetable be cooked by steaming or boiling rather than frying or grilling. It is because micronutrients, such as vitamin C, are very sensitive to heat and the application of direct heat to the vegetable source decreases the available micronutrients in it. Consequently, the nutritional value of the vegetable lessens. To get the most nutrients out of broccoli, simply blanch the vegetable, chop and incorporate into salad dishes. Amongst all the other methods of cooking, blanching is the most recommended method as it preserves the integrity of the vitamins and minerals contained in the vegetable.
To end, as the informed public’s consciousness on healthy eating continues to grow, broccoli is rapidly gaining its place in every diner’s dinner plate. Still, it is important to always maintain balance, moderation and variety in one’s diet, coupled with the right amount of exercise to achieve optimal nutrition and fitness.