How healthy is broccoli? Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and kale are named as such because the plants’ four petals look like a cross. There are lots of choices, including cauliflower, radishes, and kohlrabi. There’s no question that cauliflower is healthy since it’s considered a superfood. That said, it’s necessary to know how it stacks up with other cruciferous veggies in terms of calories, nutrition facts, and broccoli amino acid profile. These are the main factors that can help you make healthy choices when doing meal planning and selecting healthy snacks.
Broccoli offers tons of nutritional value. For example, it’s probably not surprising it’s low-calorie. However, it’s less known what nutrients broccoli has. It’s high in fiber (2.5g) and has over 100% of daily Vitamin C and Vitamin K (Potassium). The healthy vegetable’s amino acids are even less known. EAAs are critical for human diets because they can only be obtained through food and supplements. That makes it important to make sure we’re getting enough of all 9 EAAs during the day. Is broccoli a complete protein or must be paired with another incomplete protein?
What Is Broccoli All About?
We know what broccoli is by its appearance, taste, and texture. Broccoli is often referred to as little trees and is quite tasty when paired with ingredients like sesame seeds, soy sauce, and real cheese.
Broccoli belongs to a group of vegetables known as “cruciferous.” There are many options, including:
- Bok Choy (Chinese cabbage)
- Brussels Sprouts
The plants are named for their four pets that form a cross-shaped figure. There are even different varieties of broccoli, including Romanesco broccoli. All varieties of the superfood are low-calorie/carb/fat and high-nutrient.
The green vegetable is high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It contains over 100% of the daily value (DV) of Vitamin C and Vitamin K (potassium). When picking broccoli, make sure the plant’s “buds” and stalks are dark green.
Broccoli plants bloom every year and grow to be up to 3 feet (90cm) tall. If the flower buds are not picked, they form yellow flowers with four petals. That explains the plant groups’ “cruciferous” name.
Broccoli plants grow well in climates that are average to cool. They’re grown in different ways, including planting seeds or planting beds to make transplants. The plant’s heads are known as “florets” and can be harvested within 150 days. That is based on broccoli type and weather.
Broccoli: Amino Acid Profile and Nutrition Facts
Here are the nutrition facts for one cup of broccoli:
- Calories: 30
- Total Carbs: 6g
- Net Carbs: 3.5g
- Protein: 2.5 g
- Fat: 0.3g
- Vitamin C: 135% DV
- Vitamin K: 115% DV
- Vitamin A: 11% DV
- Vitamin B9: 14%
There’s also a good amount of potassium, phosphorus, and selenium.
Since you’re getting around 30g of calories from raw broccoli, it won’t be a problem if you’re counting calories. You could even have two servings of broccoli for a small fraction of the total calories allowed on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Like most vegetables, broccoli is super-low in carbs after subtracting fiber from the total carbs. That makes it Keto/Atkins-friendly at about 3.5g of net carbs. So it gets a green light if you’re on one of the low-carbohydrate diets.
Another big takeaway from the nutrition facts is you get more than the recommended daily value (DV) of Vitamin C and Vitamin K (potassium). That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat an apple or banana during the day. That said, you’ll be getting enough of those nutrients and a moderate amount of others with dishes like raw broccoli & hummus. While cooked broccoli has less nutrition, it’s still a good amount.
Then there’s the protein in broccoli. You get 2.5g, which isn’t a sky-high amount. The food also doesn’t qualify as a “complete protein” since you won’t be getting all the essential amino acids (EAAs) required in one day.
However, there are easy fixes. For example, you can combine broccoli with complete proteins like beef, quinoa, or cheese. That automatically makes the dish a complete protein due to those ingredients.
Another option is to pair the broccoli with other incomplete proteins like brown rice. It’s also possible to turn incomplete proteins into complete ones by combining 2+ of them in one dish.
Top Health Benefits of Broccoli
In recent years health experts have been highlighting the importance of fighting inflammation. That’s due to the negative effects it can cause like serious diseases, including type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Some studies show that the chemical compounds in broccoli seem to help fight off inflammation and thus help fight severe diseases.
You get about 2.5g of dietary fiber from broccoli. Fiber is critical for healthy digestion. It also helps flush out waste, toxins, and fat from the body, which helps everything to work better, including the digestive system.
Fiber is only found in plant-based foods like grains, nuts, seeds, veggies, and fruits. It’s crucial to consume more whole foods since the Standard American Diet (SAD) is highly-processed and contains lots of food additives like salt and sugar.
Blood sugar control
Some studies show that the antioxidants and fiber in broccoli might help with controlling blood sugar. That is good news for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Blood sugar spikes can cause various health issues like inflammation, insulin resistance, and diabetes/prediabetes. If you want to treat/prevent diabetes, you should consider eating more cruciferous veggies.
Cancer is easily one of the most serious diseases today, and it’s becoming more common. The risks become higher, starting with middle-age, as nearly three-quarters of cancer cases are among people 50+ years old. Broccoli’s powerful antioxidants seem to help fight off cancer cells, which can be tough to control if the disease starts spreading to other body parts.
Broccoli contains powerful antioxidants, which are molecules that can help fight off free radical molecules. They attack healthy cells and can cause various health issues like inflammation, illness, and disease. Protect your body’s cells with antioxidants after learning about the broccoli amino acid profile.