Diana Nelson

Broccoli: A Vitamin C-Rich Superfood With Surprising Health Benefits

Broccoli is high in Vitamin C and other important nutrients, making it an excellent immune booster, and a low-calorie superfood.


Brassica oleracea italica or broccoli, for short, is a type of cabbage native to the Mediterranean dating back to ancient Greece.

It was introduced to Britain by Italian immigrants in the mid-18th century and was often called ‘Italian asparagus’. In some Scandinavian countries, broccoli is still called ‘asparagus kale’. Today, broccoli is very popular in almost all cuisines of the world, from traditional French to flavourful Asian.

Broccoli – Nutrition facts

Broccoli has low energy value, a small number of protein, almost no fat and low carbohydrates. Plus it has a small amount of fibre and sugar and has a low glycemic index.


Broccoli – Good news

Broccoli is a nutrient-rich vegetable that can boost your health in many ways. Including this nutritious vegetable in your healthy, balanced diet can help you to improve your overall health.

1Sets up a strong immune system

Vitamin C is one of the essential nutrients for immune function — and broccoli is loaded with it. Two times more than in lemon, which is considered the richest source of this vitamin.

Research indicates that vitamin C plays a role in preventing and treating various illnesses. A daily intake of 100–200 mg of vitamin C seems to be sufficient to prevent certain infections.

Vitamin C in different foods, stats Source:

2Keeps your bones and joints strong

Just half a cup of cooked broccoli already contains 110 mcg of vitamin K or 92% of the Daily Recommended Intake (DRI). Half a cup of cooked broccoli stalks contains 31 mg of calcium or 3% of NRV, and the same amount of florets contains 21 mg or 2% of DRI. Calcium is needed for healthy nails, hair, skin, bones and blood cells.

In addition, a test-tube study indicates that the sulforaphane found in broccoli may contribute to the prevention of osteoarthritis.

3Makes your heart healthier

Elevated levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides are known to be major risk factors for heart disease. Broccoli may play a role in improving these markers.

One study found a significant reduction in triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as the growth of “good” HDL cholesterol levels in people treated with a powdered broccoli sprout supplement.

A higher intake of fibre-rich foods like broccoli is associated with a 15-30% lowering heart disease risk.

4Has a vital antioxidant

Broccoli includes a vital antioxidant – sulforaphane. This is a substance that fights the ageing process and prevents cancer. This tiny sulfur-based nutrient is one of the reasons why dark-green vegetables like broccoli are so good for you. Sulforaphane is a powerful phytochemical, and research shows it may help protect your body from cancer.

Also, sulforaphane may help to lower your blood sugar. If you have type 2 diabetes and obesity, you might notice a more significant improvement in blood sugar than other people would.

5Supports dental health

Broccoli contains a wide range of nutrients, some of which are known to support oral health and prevent dental diseases.

Broccoli is a good source of vitamin C and calcium. These two nutrients are associated with a decreasing risk of periodontal disease. Kaempferol, a flavonoid found in broccoli, may also play a role in preventing periodontitis.

There is a research that proves that sulforaphane may reduce your risk of oral cancers.

Some sources claim that eating raw broccoli can help manually remove plaque and whiten your teeth. However, no reliable scientific data exists to support this.

6Contains fibre to improve your gut health

Fibre is a vital part of a healthy diet. It can promote gut health, help prevent various diseases, and promote weight loss. One cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli contains about 2.3 grams of fibre, which is about 7-10% of your recommended daily intake.

7Is an inexpensive and available source of vitamins and minerals

Broccoli is a very affordable product. It has one of the best cost/nutrition value ratios. Especially for vitamin C. Daily portion of vitamin C will cost you just £0.25, at the same time, you receive a bonus for your bones – vitamin K.

Cost of Daily Requirement for Vitamin C, stats Source: Healthypedia

Broccoli – News to be aware of

Broccoli is a wonderful vegetable with many benefits for our health, but some people should pay more attention to it because of some questionable features it might have.

Be careful if you have a thyroid problem

Broccoli is considered a goitrogen, which means that high amounts of this veggie may affect the thyroid gland in sensitive individuals. Cooking this vegetable on high heat can reduce these effects. The thyroid hormone is essential for the proper functioning of the body, including metabolic regulation. So, mind your broccoli consumption if you have existing thyroid problems, and monitor your thyroid hormone levels to ensure their range is normal.

May harm your kidneys

Broccoli contains phosphorus. This element affects the absorption of calcium and takes part in the formation of bone tissue. People with kidney disease should be careful when eating broccoli as phosphorus can start to build up in your blood and cannot be adequately excreted by your kidneys.

May cause irritable bowel syndrome

If you have a sensitive stomach or irritable bowel syndrome, you shouldn’t overeat broccoli as this can lead to discomfort in the stomach, such as gas and bloating. In such situations, you should monitor how you feel after eating broccoli and adjust portions.

How to manage drawbacks

  • If you have thyroid problems and are sensitive to goitrogen, which is found in broccoli, but you really like broccoli, cook it at a high temperature. This way of cooking will help to get rid of the negative effects. Although this way of cooking broccoli eliminates the valuable Vitamin C

  • If you have kidney health problems, you should also eat broccoli with caution. Broccoli contains phosphorus as it can start to build up in your blood and cannot be adequately excreted by your kidneys.

  • Also, if you are a particular fan of broccoli but suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, try not to overeat it. This can cause unpleasant symptoms such as gas and bloat. So try not to overeat broccoli and monitor your condition after eating it.

Fun & curious facts about broccoli

  • China and India account for 74% of all global broccoli and cauliflower consumption. The average Chinese consumes two times more broccoli than the average American.

  • The vitamin C content of broccoli is higher than that of oranges, lemons, and kale.

Broccoli in the Blue Zones

People in the Blue Zones eat an impressive variety of seasonal vegetables including broccoli. The veggie is an integral part of the diet of long-livers in Loma Linda – one of 5 Blue Zones in California.

Let’s sum broccoli up

Broccoli is a nutrient-rich and very affordable vegetable that may enhance your health in various ways by strengthening your immune system and promoting heart, dental and oral health. Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamins which should definitely be added to your diet.

Not enough? Here are some more from our colleagues!

Check out Dr Michael Greger’s video about broccoli and what’s great about it! He shares the info on the latest nutrition research. He also has a website, NUTRITIONFACTS.ORG, which is a science-based public service.

Healthypedia FAQ

A daily broccoli intake should be 1-2 cups. This equals around 10-15 broccoli florets or 3-5 ounces (90-150 grams) for women and 4-6 ounces (125-175 grams) for men. It is best to bring your diet up to two whole servings of broccoli a day, but if you find that you can only tolerate a small amount at first, try starting with one cup.

Both fresh and frozen cabbage should be of rich green colour. If the florets are yellow, the vegetable is overripe or spoiled. Overripe broccoli will not taste good and should not be eaten. Choose not too-large sprouts of fresh cabbage. Make sure that the florets fit together tightly and are firm. And remember that broccoli withers quite quickly in the open air. So if you want the freshest vegetables, get some without the cellophane.

Steaming is the best cooking technique if you can not eat it raw. Because steaming takes just a few minutes, all nutrients and vitamins are preserved.

The best place to store broccoli is in the refrigerator, but like other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli likes having some room to breathe. Keep it in a loosely wrapped or perforated plastic bag so it will still get some air circulation. Do not wash your broccoli before storing it — the excess moisture may encourage mould growth. Wait until right before you eat broccoli to wash it. Use within 3-5 days.

Yes, broccoli can be a freezer. But before freezing, broccoli should be blanched (boiled quickly in hot water and then placed in an ice bath) so that it retains its nutrients and colour, plus this will also remove any lingering bacteria.

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