EN on Foods

August 2017 Issue




Broccoli Brings It!

The Folklore

The story of broccoli begins with wild cabbage, native to the Mediterranean and domesticated thousands of years ago. From domesticated cabbage came broccoli and many other cultivars in the Brassica family, including cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Pliny the Elder, Italian naturalist, wrote how Romans enjoyed broccoli in the first century CE. The word broccoli comes from the Italian “cabbage sprout.” The Italians are not the only broccoli lovers these days. Broccoli brings it all to the table as a palate pleaser and a highly nutrient dense source of powerful health protecting properties.

The Facts

Broccoli

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Boost your diet with broccoli isothiocyanates for cancer protection.

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea italica) belongs to the plant family Brassicaceae (also Cruciferae), known as the “cabbage family” or “mustard family.” The three main varieties of broccoli are calabrese, the most familiar, which has a large green flowered head and thick stalks; sprouting (also called broccoli rabe, Chinese broccoli and rapini), which has several small heads and many thin stalks; and romanesco, which has small yellow-green cone-shaped, spiraled heads. Bursting with nutrition, a half-cup of cooked broccoli packs 84% DV (Daily Value) of antioxidant vitamin C and 138% DV of bone-healthy vitamin K, in addition to many phytonutrients with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, including isothiocyanates.

The Findings

Many studies have shown the cancer preventive value of the plant compound, sulforaphane, a powerful anti-inflammatory isothiocyanate in cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli. A laboratory study on the dietary impact of sulforaphane from broccoli suggests that it may prevent and suppress prostate cancer (The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2017). The abundance of flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamins that boost broccoli’s antioxidant capacity are higher when steamed or cooked for short periods of time (Food Chemistry, 2015), and sulforaphane concentrations were 10 times higher in raw and one-minute steamed samples after digestion compared to longer steam times (Food Chemistry, 2017).

The Finer Points

Peak season for broccoli is October through April, but happily, it’s available all year. Look for deep green, compact crowns with upright leaves and sturdy stalks. Yellowing is a sign it’s not fresh. Keep refrigerated in a plastic bag up to a week. Wash before using and cut an inch off the bottom. Chop florets and stems to desired size—stems grate and julienne nicely—and enjoy them raw in salads and slaws, as crudités, or pureed into a green smoothie or sauce. In just minutes broccoli steams up nicely as a side dish tossed with chopped walnuts or almonds, or stir fried with colorful veggies, olive oil, and a splash of lemon juice.

Notable Nutrients: Broccoli

½ c (78 g), cooked, chopped

Calories: 27

Dietary Fiber: 3 g (10% DV)

Vitamin A: 1207 IU (24% DV)

Vitamin C: 51 mg (84% DV)

Vitamin K: 110 mcg (138% DV)

Folate: 84 mcg (21% DV)

Note: g=gram, mg=milligram, mcg=microgram, IU=International Units, DV=Daily Value,
based on 2,000 calories/day

Broccoli Slaw with Toasted Walnuts Recipe

Broccoli Slaw


Ingredients:
- 1 c reduced fat mayonnaise
- ¼ c raspberry vinegar
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper, ground
- 6 c (1-1¼ lb) fresh broccoli florets, half-inch pieces
- ½ c cranberries, dried
- ½ c golden raisins
- ½ c walnuts, chopped, toasted
- 1 carrot, medium, peeled, grated

Directions:
1. In a large bowl combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
2. Cover broccoli with water in a pan and boil for 1-2 minutes. Drain.
3. Add the broccoli, cranberries, raisins, walnuts and carrot to the bowl, stirring to evenly coat.

Makes 8 servings

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 194 calories, 7 grams (g) fat, 33 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 356 milligrams sodium.
Recipe adapted courtesy California Walnut Board