Broccoli: Nutrition Facts

Calories and Their Health Benefits

broccoli nutrition facts and health benefits

Photo: Alexandra Shytsman

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable which belongs to the Brassica genus of plants. It is a type of flower and has a thick, central stalk with grayish green leaves and green florets (there are some purple varieties). Broccoli has been categorized among the most nutritious vegetables and, when cooked properly, can really be a delicious addition to any meal plan.

There are many varieties of broccoli, the most well known being the typical broccoli head. Other varieties include broccoli rabe, Chinese broccoli, and Italian heirloom.

Broccoli is available fresh and frozen. Fresh broccoli is available year round with peak season from October through April.

Broccoli Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 cup raw chopped (91 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 31 
Calories from Fat 3 
Total Fat 0.3g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 30mg1%
Potassium 288mg8%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Dietary Fiber 2.4g9%
Sugars 1.5g 
Protein 2.5g 
Vitamin A 11% · Vitamin C 135%
Calcium 4% · Iron 4%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

At only 30 calories per cup, broccoli is a popular addition to the plates of people looking to both lose weight or gain muscle. The low calorie count shouldn't deceive you though. This vegetable is chock-full of protein, fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.

Broccoli Health Benefits 

Broccoli is a fiber rich vegetable, containing about nine percent of the daily value in one cup raw. Fiber, the indigestible part of carbohydrate, can help to reduce cholesterol, promote bowel health, regulate blood sugars, and aid in weight loss.

Broccoli is also packed with vitamins and minerals.

 It is an excellent source of vitamin C (containing more than a day's worth) and vitamin K, a very good source of folate, and a good source of Vitamin A, manganese, potassium, and B-vitamins. Broccoli is also a good source of plant-based calcium.

The results are mixed, but some studies suggest that eating higher amounts of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer (prostate, lung, breast). Broccoli contains a group of substances known as glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals. These substances give broccoli its pungent smell.

When digested and during food preparation, glucosinolates get broken down and form compounds known as indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates. One type of indole, known as indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane (an isothiocyanate) have been most frequently examined for their anticancer effects.

Broccoli is also one of the foods with the highest levels of antioxidant phytonutrients on a per-calorie basis. Antioxidants help to fight off free radicals which can cause inflammation and disease.

Why Does My Broccoli Turn Brown?

The most common reason that beautiful green colored vegetables like broccoli produce khaki colored green is because of overcooking.

Typically, broccoli will start to turn a drab color after cooking for about seven minutes.

If you know you are going to eat broccoli right away, steam or saute it quickly and then serve. If, however, you plan on cooking it later, you can blanch it to preserve vitamins, minerals, and color.

The blanching process cooks food partially and is done to remove undesirable flavors, soften firm foods, set colors and shorten final cooking times. Blanching is quick. To blanch, place broccoli, one floret at a time, into salted boiling water and remove it after about 30 seconds. Immediately plunge broccoli into ice water.

The ice bath halts the cooking process and helps set the color. When you are ready to use your broccoli cook it as desired.

Picking and Storing Broccoli

Choose fresh broccoli stalks with compact clusters of tightly closed dark green florets. Avoid stalks with yellow flowers.

To store fresh broccoli, place it in an airtight bag in the refrigerator for a few days.

You can also purchase frozen broccoli which is usually good for about eight-to-ten months. If you want to freeze your own broccoli, blanch it first and then store it in the freezer in an airtight container.

Healthy Ways to Prepare Broccoli

Broccoli can be eaten raw, as crudite or slaw, or can be prepared using a variety of cooking methods. Steam, saute, or roast broccoli to compliment your main meal or use stems to make soups.

To avoid brownish colored broccoli, try not to overcook it. Overcooking will not only make it less appealing to the eye, but will reduce the availability of vitamins and minerals. Broccoli shouldn't be too mushy. You can maintain a beautiful green hue by blanching your broccoli first—this will not only enhance the color of broccoli but will help to soften the stems.

Recipes With Broccoli

Get a veggie dose in the morning by adding your broccoli to your egg dish or cook up your broccoli to use as a base or side dish for a low carbohydrate dinner.

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