Broccoli – you’ve got to love it


Many children don’t appreciate the flavour of broccoli, but as you grow older, your tastebuds might change and tell you how important broccoli is to your diet and health.

Broccoli is high in many nutrients, including fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium.

The sugars include fructose, glucose, and sucrose, with small amounts of lactose and maltose. All of which are in very low amounts.

Fibre is an important part of a healthy diet, both soluble and non-soluble fibres, although more than 50% is soluble which helps reduce and slow down blood glucose uptake from the gut to the liver. Non-soluble fibre helps regulate stool transit and feeds and transports good bacteria; along with help weight reduction and diabetes.

Other nutrients include:

  • Vitamin C: necessary for the immune system; for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. Vitamin C is involved in various functions, including formation of collagen, absorption of iron, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth. This micronutrient doubles as an antioxidant and is important for immune function and skin health
  • Vitamin K1: Broccoli contains high amounts of K1 which is necessary for blood clotting by helping bones produce prothrombin, a protein that plays crucial roles in blood clotting, bone metabolism, and heart health. Vitamin K also helps facilitate energy production in the mitochondria of cells
  • Folate (vitamin B9): Folic acid is crucial for proper brain function. It plays an important role in mental and emotional health. It is required in the production of DNA and RNA, the body’s genetic material, and is especially important when cells and tissues are growing rapidly, such as in infancy, adolescence, and pregnancy
  • Potassium: potassium has four major roles in the body – regulates blood pressure and prevents heart disease; ensures proper function of both muscles and nerves; it is vital for synthesizing proteins; and for metabolizing carbohydrates
  • Manganese: is involved in metabolizing amino acids, cholesterol, glucose, and carbohydrates; as well as being an antioxidant it is involved in bone formation; reproduction; and the immune response
  • Iron: plays a number of roles in the body – keeps the body oxygenated; converts blood sugar to energy; supports the immune system; involved in cognitive functioning, healthy skin, nails and hair

Besides minerals, broccoli is also rich in various antioxidants and plant compounds, which contribute to its health benefits. Let’s look at some of them:

  • Sulforaphane: due to an incredible amount of research with this compound, we now know it protects against various types of cancer. Sulforaphane also helps to increase blood flow to the brain and reduce swelling, as well as activate Nrf2 pathways that reduce oxidative stress.
  • Indole-3-carbinol: stimulates enzymes involved in detoxing the liver and the gut and is another compound that fights against cancer
  • Carotenoids: Broccoli contains various carotenoids: lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta carotene, which may all contribute are known for their benefits to the eyes.
  • Kaempferol: Another antioxidant that is known for its roles in protecting against heart disease, cancer, inflammation, and allergies
  • Quercetin: a well-known flavanol (one of the polyphenol categories). Quercetin is an antioxidant that is well known for its ability to lower blood pressure as well as lower coagulation, hyperglycemia, inflammation, and hypertension

Mom knew best when she told you to eat your vegetables. And certainly broccoli was a good choice.

It is easy to grow in the garden. Broccoli requires about 6 hours of sun daily and needs a fertile, well-drained, moist soil with plenty of organic matter. Organic chicken or rabbit treasures (aka manure) is great for broccoli. Mulch will help keep the ground cool and moist. The soil pH should be slighly acidic, between 6.0 and 7.0 for best growth and to discourage clubroot disease. You can use coffee grounds to help reduce the pH if needed.

If the temperature goes above 90F during the growing season, it can damage the plant. If you live in hotter areas and the temperature is getting up there you may want to use a 50% density shade cloth to protect the plants.

There are both summer and winter varieties. It does take 6-8 months to grow. But side shoots will continue to grow after harvesting, we have kept some growing for a couple of years…so be patient.

The roots like about 12-18″ for depth and they can be grown in pots on your balcony or patio. Pots also allow you to extend the growing season by moving them to different areas.

Here’s to both growing and eating your broccoli.

Dr Holly