Just hearing the word “broccoli” and I can already picture myself at the dinner table moaning at the children; “Eat your greens!” That is after spending time trying to disguise the broccoli under cheese sauce or tucked away inside a chicken fillet!
Broccoli is an edible green plant that comes from the cabbage family and has a large flowering head and stalk that is eaten as a vegetable. The word broccoli is the Italian plural for broccoli which means, “the flowering crest of a cabbage.” There are many reasons why parents, like me, have been practically forcing their children to eat their broccoli – and it all boils down to the fact that we were told by our mothers that broccoli is good for you! This article is a guide to Broccoli Nutritional Facts and not just because you are being told, but proven facts that Broccoli is a super-food.
This article will be a great reference, especially for those parents who need some inspiration to get their family to eat more broccoli. I will also introduce you to broccoli microgreens, they will be your secret weapon and offer a tasty, healthier option for your next dinner hack against the children (and some adults)
Broccoli Nutritional Facts – The Ultimate Lowdown
Broccoli (the fully grown version) is rich in folate, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. It also provides the body with Vitamin A, fiber, and potassium. Enriched with carotenoids lutein, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and other antioxidants, broccoli packs a great nutritional punch for many health benefits and is favoured by those who are looking to lose a few pounds as it has very few calories. Broccoli is made up of the following nutrients:
- – Calories: 31
- – Water: 89%
- – Protein: 2.5g
- – Carbs: 6g
- – Sugar: 1.5g
- – Fibre: 2.4g
- – Fat: 0.4g
Raw broccoli contains almost 90% water, 3% proteins, and 7% carbs. There is virtually no fat in the green sprout.
The Benefits of Broccoli
Various studies have shown that broccoli sprouts help improve insulin resistance in many patients with Type 2 diabetes. Foods rich in fiber, like broccoli, take more time to digest and make you feel fuller for longer periods, a great dietary addition for weight management. Broccoli also offers the following range of natural health benefits:
Broccoli has high levels of calcium and Vitamin K: Both are important for bone protection and the prevention of osteoporosis.
Broccoli has less than 31 calories per cup which makes it perfect for any health-conscious person to consume freely without the worry that they are going to pack on the pounds. Its high fiber content reduces cholesterol and assists in promoting a healthy gut. Sulforaphane is a chemical that is present in broccoli that reduces glucose levels and regulates blood sugar levels, thus promoting weight loss and helps with the management of conditions such as diabetes.
A healthier Heart
Like many other cruciferous vegetables, it has been proven that a higher intake of vegetables such as broccoli can promote good heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes. Broccoli contains the essential mineral, potassium, which is highly beneficial for regulating blood pressure and preventing heart disease.
Reduces the risk of Cancer
Some studies have suggested that eating more broccoli can reduce the risk of many types of cancers. Sulforaphane and selenium are the cancer-fighting elements in broccoli that also give it a bitter after-taste. Broccoli contains a very unique nutrient called Indole-3-carbinol; this compound has been linked to helping fight against cancer cells.
Due to its rich antioxidant content, broccoli helps to fight off free radicals that cause inflammation, disease, and cell damage. Some antioxidants that can be found in broccoli include kaempferol, quercetin, and sulforaphane.
Broccoli is excellent for boosting overall eye health. The two main carotenoids in broccoli, namely lutein, and zeaxanthin, are associated with decreasing the risk of degenerative eye disorders. Broccoli also contains beta carotene which the body converts into Vitamin A. This vitamin helps boost eyesight, especially since Vitamin A deficiency leads to night blindness.
Broccoli Microgreens: The Turning Point
Now that we have discussed the benefits of the fully formed broccoli head and understand its nutritional structure, let us take the time to talk about broccoli microgreens. This is the superhero of broccoli! Broccoli microgreens are a rich source of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients (up to 40X more than the fully grown head). They also pack a punch with the powerful antioxidants they contain. Broccoli microgreens are considered a functional food, meaning that they can provide nutrients to the body in practical ways. The best thing about these microgreens is that they can be grown in your own home even if you live in an urban area, and they are harvested just after the seedling produces its first set of leaves (also known as “true leaves”). In many ways’ broccoli microgreens can be described as a super-food ! Children love superheroes, don’t they ?
Microgreens come from the shoot system of a young plant whose seeds have been germinated to enable them to grow. Simply put, microgreens are stems with leaves that are severed from their root systems and offer great nutrition since they have begun the photosynthetic process. So, what does this mean? It means that they contain the food that was stored in the seed and are also able to make their own food. Chemicals, such as pesticides and herbicides, do not have the chance to cause any side effects since the microgreen is removed quickly during the harvesting process. If grown at home, you eliminate the need for these pesticides all together! From seed to harvest it has an amazing turn-around time, only 7 – 14 days. The bonus point for the flavor is that the microgreen version doesn’t have the exact same strong taste as the fully formed head. It is far more subtle, making it easier for the little ones to eat.
Nutrients found in broccoli microgreens include the following:
- – Vitamins A, B, C, E, and K
- – Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc
- – Carotene, chlorophyll, Amino Acids, and antioxidants
The natural health benefits of broccoli microgreens are influencing people all around the world to consume these little wonders and they are becoming increasingly popular since they offer more nutrition. These microgreens can be used in soups, salads, stews, and various other dishes and help create a delicious and nutritious meal to keep you and your family healthy. Health experts and nutritionists alike agree that they contain a vast amount of nutrients that assist with detoxification, diabetes, and inflammation.
The key to using microgreens is to be creative. You can put it in, or use it in, almost any type of dish (including sandwiches)
The Broccoli Head or Broccoli Microgreens?
Most food these days have been genetically modified to maintain certain qualities. This is also referred to as GMO or genetically modified organisms. GMO foods have had its DNA altered through genetic engineering and in most cases, GMO foods have been altered with DNA from other organisms such as bacterium, or plants. Sounds rather concerning when you understand what GMO foods are about. The problem nowadays is that you cannot tell by looking at a vegetable weather it is Organic or NON-GMO, making it a real gamble in the end. The good news is that while the heads of larger broccoli may have been exposed to genetic engineering, broccoli microgreens are grown in a controlled environment with NON-GMO, organic seeds, using clean soil or grow medium. This means that broccoli microgreens are a natural source of NON-GMO vitamins and minerals compared to that of mature broccoli, making them the best option when it comes to a natural food source.
Most broccoli microgreens take 7 to 14 days to grow and are 100% natural. Studies have shown that they contain more nutrients per gram than their mature version. Time can also take its toll on the nutritional value of mature broccoli and when bought from a store it contains less nutritional value, especially considering the transportation and shelving process. Research has shown that broccoli microgreens contain up 100x more cancer-fighting sulforaphane than mature, fully formed heads of broccoli and are definitely a force to be reckoned with. The higher concentration of sulforaphane adds more health benefits to the little sprout and reduces oxidative stress in the upper respiratory tract. This tiny super-food is highly beneficial for asthmatics and for those who exercise regularly under constant physical strain.
Broccoli microgreens also contain a higher concentration of Vitamins A and C, as well as calcium for stronger bones and teeth. Microgreens have a higher concentration of Glucosinolates (GL’s), these contribute to a higher defense against pathogens. Research has shown that GL’s help fight against pancreas, lung, stomach, colon, and rectal and prostate cancer.
Microgreens are more versatile than their older broccoli counterpart and can be incorporated into the diet in a lot more ways. Since they taste better, they may be a tastier option for children turning their nose up at the sight of the broccoli head on their plate. Even I have my days when I am not sure if I am ready for the taste of broccoli! Some people may not even realize they are eating broccoli microgreens. In addition, they offer the following benefits:
- – They add more color to most dishes.
- – Microgreens give salads and wraps that extra crunch.
- – They can be used for juicing.
- – They can be used as a garnish for many dishes and compliment pizzas, soups, stir-fries, and pasta dishes.
- – They can be easily hidden away from fussy eaters and children and even blended into an herb-like paste.
Microgreens can be kept stored in a resealable bag or container and can last in the fridge for a week. Keeping them airtight until plated will ensure that they do not wilt or dry out before using. Microgreens store a lot more easily than mature broccoli heads and keep their nutritional value for longer too. Alternatively, you can keep the living plant on your windowsill and harvest as needed. This is my personal favorite.
Grow Your Own Broccoli Microgreens
Microgreens are extremely easy to grow and grow very quickly. Children will have fun planting the seeds and watching their superfood grow, perhaps a little more motivation to eat what they have grown and harvested. I love growing my own microgreens because I know exactly what has gone into the soil without the use of harmful chemicals, and they grow so quickly too. Not to mention it is an inexpensive process that will offer your family a host of nutritional benefits compared to store-bought broccoli heads. Do you really know who has handled that vegetable, how it was grown, and if it truly natural? Growing your own eliminates the concerns surrounding store-bought foods.
At the Root of it All… A Power Punch
Microgreens are an excellent way to provide families that live in the city with locally produced vegetables in their own homes. Dynamite comes in small packages and it is definitely the case with broccoli microgreens. If you have not yet tried them already, you are missing out on some serious nutritional action from a superhero of food! Your children will love this one too! What are you waiting for? Get started today!
Until Next time