Broccoli is a nutrient-rich vegetable that may enhance your health in a variety of ways. It’s loaded with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other bioactive compounds. Including the leafy green veggie in your diet every day can help reduce inflammation, improve blood sugar control, boost immunity and improve heart health.
Whether you love its taste, texture, or how it resembles an adorable little tree, broccoli is a popular vegetable for good reason. In addition to being so beneficial to the body, it also tastes delicious when added to countless meals.
If you’re looking for the best veggie to turn into a dietary staple, look to broccoli. Here’s a look at five fantastic health benefits from eating broccoli regularly that you may not have known about.
Slows down growth of COVID-19, other viruses
Leafy greens are not only good for your health, they may help end the coronavirus pandemic as well. A recent study shows evidence that a chemical found within broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables may offer a potent new way of fighting both COVID-19 and the common cold.
The natural compound in leafy greens which turns into sulforaphane is especially abundant within broccoli. People can derive natural sulforaphane from numerous common food sources, including broccoli seeds, sprouts, various mature plants, as well as sprout infusions or seeds for drinking.
One experiment in the study entailed exposing cells to sulforaphane for one or two hours before infecting the cells with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They also exposed the cells to the common cold coronavirus. This process led to the observation that low micromolar concentrations of sulforaphane lowered virus replication by 50 percent among six distinct strains of SARS-CoV-2 – including the Delta and Omicron variants.
For the study, researchers conducted further tests using a mouse model of SARS-CoV-2 infection. That process led to the revelation that gave the animals 30 milligrams of sulforaphane per kilogram of body weight before infecting them with SARS-CoV-2 notably reduced the typical loss of body weight seen among infected rodents (7.5%). This sulforaphane pretreatment also produced a statistically significant drop in the rodents’ viral loads within their lungs (17% decrease) and upper respiratory tracts (9% decrease). Lung injuries were also less frequent than the norm among COVID-infected mice not given any sulforaphane (29% decrease).
READ MORE: Leafy greens like broccoli could help slow growth of COVID-19, other cold viruses
Shows hope for cancer treatment
A compound in broccoli and cabbage may help pave the way to a new cancer treatment, scientists say. Findings show that a molecule in these vegetables breaks down into the compound 3,3′-Diindolylmethane – or DIM. Scientists believe the compound can induce cell death in patients with breast, prostate, and colon cancer.
Researchers say several anti-cancer drugs trigger apoptosis in order to destroy cancerous cells. Thus, if researchers can control this programmable death, it may lead to a new breakthrough in cancer research. The study shows that high concentrations of DIM increase the lifespan of fission yeast. It may sound strange that a cell-killing compound helps an organism live longer, but the study explains that DIM targets cells which are exponentially multiplying out of control – like cancerous tumors.
Moreover, the findings also demonstrate that DIM induces autophagy in cancer cells. However, the impact of autophagy on tumor formation and progression is not fully understood. The understanding of apoptosis and autophagy mechanism by DIM in fission yeast may be helpful for human cancer and longevity research.
READ MORE: Broccoli compound causes cell death, opening surprising door to new cancer treatment
Broccoli and other leafy greens boosts blood vessel health
Our parents may have been on to something when they told us to eat our vegetables. A new study finds that eating more cruciferous veggies (such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage) could be the key to better blood vessel health.
Blood vessel disease is a condition that affects arteries and veins and can restrict blood flow throughout the body. The buildup of fatty calcium deposits on the aorta is a key marker of blood vessel disease. It’s also the biggest contributor to heart attack and stroke.
In the study, the researchers looked at data from 684 women in Western Australia who were recruited in 1998. The results show that women who eat more than 45 grams of cruciferous veggies each day – equal to about ¼ cup of steamed broccoli or ½ cup of raw cabbage – are 46% less likely to have calcium build-up on their aorta.
Interestingly, the study also shows that calcium build-up on the aorta is not related to overall vegetable consumption or consumption of other types of non-cruciferous vegetables. Thus, it seems that there is something special about cruciferous vegetables in particular. In addition, one particular constituent found abundantly in cruciferous vegetables is vitamin K which may be involved in inhibiting the calcification process that occurs in our blood vessels.
READ MORE: Eating Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower may boost blood vessel health
Ensures a healthier gut
Broccoli just might be the cure for digestive issues stemming from a problematic gut, one study finds. Scientists found that rodents whose diets were supplemented with broccoli coped better with their digestive symptoms, such as leaky gut and colitis.
One chemical compound produced through broccoli consumption, referred to as indolocarbazole, or ICZ, is a catalyst for a healthy equilibrium in the gut and immune system. That’s because ICZ activates the Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) in the intestinal lining, which helps regulate the gut. This stabilizing effect could help prevent the development of many gut-related conditions, including Crohn’s Disease and some forms of cancer.
Some individuals could suffer adverse consequences from the same protocol used on the mice in the experiment, but the researchers affirm that targeted treatment on the right population set shows promise. However, to receive the benefits found among the mice studied, an average person would have to consume about three-and-a-half cups of broccoli a day.
READ MORE: Eat more broccoli to ensure a healthier gut, study finds
Eating broccoli when pregnant can lead to better attention span in children
Going overboard on broccoli, eggs and lean meat while pregnant can help mothers give their children a better attention span, a study finds. Consuming twice the recommended amount of choline leads to children displaying better focus during tasks that require constant attention. Common sources of choline include egg yolks, lean red meat, fish, poultry, nuts, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage.
For the study, researchers compared seven-year-old children from mothers who ate a diet with normal levels of choline and another group from mothers eating twice the typical amount. The results suggest that recommended choline levels in dietary guidelines do not fully meet the needs of a mother and her unborn child. Moreover, researchers say most prenatal vitamins do not contain choline and 90 percent of pregnant women do not even meet the recommended amounts in their daily diet.
All of the mothers in the new study consumed a diet with a specific amount of choline during the third trimester of their pregnancies. Half consumed 480 mg of choline each day, which is slightly more than the recommended intake (450 mg). The other half consumed 930 mg each day, more than doubling the daily recommendation.
Seven years later, the children of women eating 480 mg of choline during their pregnancies displayed less accuracy throughout a sustained attention task. Meanwhile, children of mothers consuming 930 mg maintained a high level of accuracy during the test. Moreover, findings suggest that more choline protects against the cognitive impacts of stress, fetal alcohol exposure, autism, epilepsy, Down syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease.
READ MORE: Eating choline-heavy diet during pregnancy can boost child’s attention span
With all of these incredible health benefits from eating broccoli, if you didn’t like the veggie before – you should love it now! Of course, any significant changes to your diet and health routine should always be discussed with your doctor first.