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Broccoli

July 2017

By Garry Messick

One of the most popular of cruciferous vegetables—a family that includes cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts—broccoli is also one of the most beneficial of foods.

Broccoli was originally cultivated in Italy sometime in the 1600s. Today it is featured in a wide variety of dishes and is cooked a number of ways, although the healthiest methods are to steam this dark green veggie or consume it raw, which preserves its rich assortment of nutrients.

Some of the best reasons to make room for broccoli in your salad bowl or on your plate include:

Diabetes Control

Broccoli contains chromium, a mineral that our bodies use to help regulate insulin to maintain blood glucose levels.1

Phytochemicals

Broccoli contains a number of phytochemicals, such as indole-3-carbinol, isothiocyanates and glucosinolates, which are known to have anticancer properties.2 Studies suggest that broccoli consumption is associated with a reduced risk of some types of cancer, including lung, colon, and breast cancer.3

Maintaining Healthy Eyes

If you’re looking for a food to help support your eyesight, then broccoli is the way to go. It contains the powerful carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as beta-carotene and vitamin C, all of which have supportive or protective effects on your eyes, helping to keep cataracts and macular degeneration at bay.4

Bone Strength

People who are susceptible to osteoporosis—menopausal women and the elderly, for instance—would do well to make a habit of eating broccoli, since it contains bone-strengthening nutrients such as calcium and vitamin K1.5,6 Some vitamin K1 converts to biologically active K2 in the intestines. To ensure optimal K2 status, taking a supplement containing the MK-4 and MK-7 forms of vitamin K is suggested.

Sun Exposure

The compound sulforaphane, which is abundant in broccoli, has been shown to lessen the damaging effects of UV radiation to the skin.7

References

  1. Available at: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/chromium. Accessed April 7, 2017.
  2. Available at: http://www.aicr.org/reduce-your-cancer-risk/diet/elements_phytochemicals.html. Accessed April 7, 2017.
  3. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cruciferous-vegetables-fact-sheet. Accessed April 7, 2017.
  4. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/lutein-zeaxanthin-vision. Accessed April 7, 2017.
  5. Available at: http://www.joybauer.com/photo-gallery/8-non-dairy-foods-that-help-fight-osteoporosis/. Accessed April 7, 2017.
  6. Available at: https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2013/dark-green-leafy-vegetables/. Accessed April 7, 2017.
  7. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2016;15(1):72-7.