Notable Personality Factors:
Among cruciferous vegetables — and the plant kingdom as a whole — broccoli is king! A “crown” of this nutrient-rich super-veggie is packed with cancer-fighting compounds, stress-fighting phytonutrients, and essential vitamins and minerals that keep your body energized, fresh, and alive. In fact, I like to think of broccoli as the ultimate “ready” food. It activates the brain, enlivens the nervous system, and bolsters the adrenals. In this manner, it makes sure that the mind and body are prepared to deal with whatever physical or emotional demands are at hand.
Therapeutic and Healing Powers:
As a member of the cruciferous family — which also includes veggies such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and turnips — broccoli is best known for its anti-cancer characteristics. So what is it about broccoli that helps protect against cancer? For starters, it’s naturally endowed with powerful cancer-inhibiting compounds, such as isothiocyanates, that bolster the body’s defense against dangerous carcinogens. Isothiocyanates, for example, play an important role in neutralizing, counteracting, and removing cancer-causing carcinogens from the body.
Meanwhile, some of the other phytonutrients found in broccoli, such as sulforaphane, are known for identifying, attacking, and destroying cancerous cells. It’s important to point out that they’re able to do this without damaging healthy cells! But that’s just the beginning. Broccoli is also a nutritional powerhouse when it comes to vitamin A and vitamin C — two potent anti-oxidants that boost the body’s immune system and help defend against damaging free-radicals. Given all of these anti-cancer qualities, it’s no wonder that diets rich in cruciferous vegetables have been shown to reduce the risk for all kinds of cancer including breast, lung, esophageal, and prostate cancer.
In addition to building your body’s cancer-fighting capacity, broccoli is a highly alkaline green vegetable that is good for the liver, kidneys, and spleen. I’ve also found steamed broccoli to be useful in boosting the adrenal glands and alleviating fatigue (thanks, in part, to the adrenal building powers of its pantothenic acid). Its energizing capacity helps counter stress, depression, and metabolic burnout.
In addition to all of the phytonutrients and antioxidants mentioned above, broccoli is a great source of fiber and is chock-full of essential vitamins and minerals. It’s an excellent source of B vitamins — particularly folate, which is necessary for synthesizing and repairing DNA and has been shown to lower breast cancer risk — and is a notable source of vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B6. It’s rich in potassium, blood-boosting iron, and many other minerals that help maintain biochemical balance in the body.
Selection and Care:
Choose dark green broccoli. Buds should be tightly closed. Florets that have begun to soften and yellow are no longer ripe. Look for fresh green leaves and firm stalks. Broccoli can be steamed or enjoyed raw.
Optimal Use and Combining:
Given all of its nutritional benefits, I encourage my patients to eat cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, four to five times a week, if not daily! Broccoli can be eaten raw with your vegetable salad or can be steamed as a side dish with your lunch or dinner. It also adds a wonderful crunch to pasta primavera and makes a tasty partner for a baked potato.