Broccoli Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Broccoli annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that belongs to the Brassica genus of plants. It's a type of flower with a thick, central stalk with grayish-green leaves and green florets (some purple varieties). It is versatile and easy to find in most grocery stores.

Broccoli is considered one of the most nutritious vegetables and can be a delicious addition to any meal or snack as a side dish, in casseroles, soups, and stirfry, or eaten raw with a dip. Consuming broccoli raw or cooked provides many nutrients, although some cooking methods will reduce flavonoids. Learn more about broccoli nutrition facts and benefits below.

Broccoli Nutrition Facts

The USDA provides the following nutrition information for one cup (91g) of raw, chopped broccoli.

  • Calories: 31
  • Fat: 0.3g
  • Sodium: 30mg
  • Carbohydrates: 6g
  • Fiber: 2.4g
  • Sugars: 1.5g
  • Protein: 2.5g
  • Vitamin C: 81.2mg

Carbs

One cup of raw, chopped broccoli contains only 31 calories, 6 grams carbohydrates, and very little sugar (1.5 grams). More than a third of the carbohydrates found in broccoli come from fiber (2.4 grams), making it a filling, heart-healthy food choice.

The glycemic index estimates how a food affects your blood sugar levels. The glycemic index (GI) for broccoli is 10. Broccoli is a low GI food, meaning it has a minimal effect on blood sugar levels.

Note that GI only reflects how the food affects blood sugar when you eat it alone. Consuming the food with another food changes the GI. For instance, adding fiber or fat will slow down the release of blood sugars, lowering the GI.

Fat

Broccoli has only a trace amount of fat and is cholesterol-free. However, it contains a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Consuming two cups of broccoli delivers nearly 0.5 grams of this anti-inflammatory fatty acid.

Protein

For a vegetable, broccoli has a significant amount of protein, 2.5 grams per one-cup serving. But you still should include other protein sources in your diet to meet your daily needs. 

Vitamins and Minerals

Broccoli is bursting with vitamins and minerals. It's an excellent source of immune-boosting vitamin C, providing over 81mg, or about 135% of your daily needs. It is also an excellent source of vitamin K, important in bone health and wound healing.

You'll consume 116% of your daily recommended intake in a one-cup serving of broccoli. Minerals in broccoli include manganese, potassium, and phosphorus. It's also an excellent source of the B vitamin folate and a good source of vitamin A, manganese, potassium, and other B vitamins.

Calories

Broccoli contains 31 calories for one cup (91g) of raw, chopped broccoli. The calories in broccoli are 66% carbohydrate, 27% protein, and 7% fat. Broccoli is a high volume, low-calorie food.

Summary

Broccoli is a low calorie food, primarily containing carbs and protein with little fat. It is high in nutrients including vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, and vitamin A.

Health Benefits

Broccoli is associated with several health benefits.

May Help Balance Weight

At only 31 calories a cup, broccoli is a popular addition to the plates of those looking to lose weight. It's high in fiber, with one cup providing about 9% of the recommended daily value.

Fiber, the indigestible part of carbohydrate, can help to reduce cholesterol, promote bowel health, regulate blood sugars, and aid in weight loss. Eating foods high in fiber helps you feel full longer after eating.

Improved Diabetes Management and Prevention

Studies have shown that a fiber-rich diet is associated with a lower risk for type 2 diabetes. According to one study of 99,826 women, those with the highest fiber intake had the lowest risk of diabetes. Study authors attribute this health benefit to the fact that foods with fiber take more time to consume and provide greater satiety.

Other studies have shown that broccoli sprouts may improve insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Better Heart Health

Numerous studies have linked a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables to better heart health, including a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart, cerebrovascular disease, and stroke. In these studies, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower were the most common vegetables grouped as cruciferous vegetables.

This may be one of many reasons the American Heart Association includes broccoli in their healthy eating pattern, emphasizing vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Reduced Risk of Cancer

Some studies suggest that eating higher amounts of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, including prostate, lung, and breast cancer. In addition, diets that are higher in fiber are associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer.

Isothicyanates in cruciferous vegetables exhibits anti-cancer properties. A phytochemical compound called sulforaphane in broccoli helps prevent and treat various cancers including prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, skin, urinary bladder, and oral cancers.

Cell Protection

Broccoli is also one of the foods with high levels of antioxidant phytonutrients on a per calorie basis. Antioxidants help to fight off free radicals that cause cell damage that can result in inflammation and disease.

Broccoli has been shown to protect certain cells from oxidative stress, reducing the incidence of chronic health disorders such as heart disease. Scientists believe these effects are due to vitamin C, phenolic compounds, carotenoids, vitamin E, and isothiocyanates.

Allergies

Broccoli food allergies are infrequent, but isolated cases have been reported. There have been reports of the food-pollen syndrome if you have hay fever due to mugwort pollen.

Broccoli, cabbage, and related vegetables have proteins similar to mugwort pollen and can cause a reaction when you eat them. You may feel a tingling on your lips and tongue. Very rarely, this can progress to a swollen throat or anaphylaxis.

Adverse Effects

Broccoli is high in vitamin K and eating large quantities, or sudden changes in the amount consumed can interfere with the effectiveness and safety of Coumadin (warfarin) and reduce its blood-thinning effect.

While on Coumadin (warfarin), Vitamin K intake needs to be consistent. Discuss with a registered dietitian nutritionist or your healthcare provider for more information.

Varieties

There are many varieties of broccoli, although your local grocery store isn't likely to carry all of them. Most markets stock Calabrese broccoli, destiny broccoli, and belstar broccoli. These are the types of broccoli with thick stalks and bright green florets.

Broccolini is becoming more popular. This variety has longer, thinner stalks and tall, narrow florets.

Broccoli raab (rapini) can also be found in many markets, although it looks the least like broccoli. This variety is bright green and leafy and technically a turnip family member.

You are least likely to find varieties like Romanesco broccoli with pointy florets and a greenish-yellowish color.

When It’s Best

Fresh broccoli is available year-round, although it is in season from October through April. If there is no fresh broccoli at your market, most supermarkets sell frozen broccoli that can be just as nutritious as fresh broccoli.

To choose the best broccoli, look for tight, deep green florets and a firm stalk. Avoid broccoli with a soft or bendable stalk or yellowish florets.

Storage and Food Safety

To store broccoli, place it in the refrigerator for up to 2–3 days. Remove from the produce bag to allow ventilation. Keep the vegetable dry until you are ready to cook with it.

You can freeze broccoli, but most cooks blanch or steam it first. Only cook for 2–3 minutes, then plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process. Store in air-tight bags in the freezer for up to a year.

People often wonder if they can eat all of the vegetable, including thick stalks. Broccoli heads, the florets at the top, and the attached stem are the edible parts of the plant. Just be sure to cut off the bottom one to two inches, which can be tough and woody. 

Some people get concerned about the smell of broccoli and wonder if the smell indicates that the broccoli has gone bad. However, that is not the case.

Broccoli contains a group of substances known as glucosinolates, sulfur-containing chemicals. These substances give broccoli its pungent smell. Placing a piece of bread into the bottom of the pot when cooking is said to help absorb odors.

How to Prepare

Broccoli can be eaten raw, as crudite or slaw, or can be prepared using a variety of cooking methods. Steam, s​auté, or roast it to compliment your main meal or use the stems to make soup.

Avoid overcooking, as it will not only make it less visually appealing but will reduce the availability of vitamins and minerals. You can maintain a beautiful green hue by blanching your broccoli first—this will not only enhance the broccoli's color but also help soften the stems. Blanching broccoli can also help to reduce bitterness.

Blanching is a cooking technique in which food is briefly immersed in salted boiling water (about 30 seconds) and then rapidly cooled in ice water. You also could try microwaving broccoli, which allows you to retain more of the nutrients in broccoli.

You can eat broccoli round the clock: Get a veggie dose in the morning by adding broccoli to egg dishes or use it as a base or side dish for a low-carb dinner.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is broccoli a carb or a protein?

    Broccoli is primarily a carbohydrate-based food as it contains 66% carbohydrates and 27% protein. One cup of raw broccoli (91g) contains 6g of carbs and 2.6g of protein.

  • Why is broccoli the healthiest vegetable?

    Broccoli is one of the most healthy vegetables because of its high amount of vitamin C, K, A, and folate, along with certain compounds that are very effective for preventing and treating cancerous cells.

  • Is broccoli healthier raw or cooked?

    Broccoli is healthy raw or cooked, but over-cooking broccoli by boiling it can lead to reduced chemical compounds such as flavonoids that significantly boost health. If you want to cook broccoli, consider lightly steaming it instead.

15 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading
  • Labensky, SR, Hause, AM. On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003: 617.

  • Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrients for Health

By Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN
Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist, counseling patients with diabetes. Barbie was previously the Advanced Nutrition Coordinator for the Mount Sinai Diabetes and Cardiovascular Alliance and worked in pediatric endocrinology at The Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center.