Broccoli Rabe Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Cooked broccoli rabe with nuts

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Broccoli rabe (also known as rapini, broccoli raab, or broccoli de rape) is a leafy, cruciferous vegetable. Contrary to the name, broccoli rabe is not in the broccoli family along with broccolini. Instead, it is part of the Brassica family and more closely related to turnips, though it is often cooked like leafy greens.

This vegetable looks like it has long broccoli stalks with spinach leads and small, broccoli-like florets at the top. The stems, leaves, and florets are all edible, and this vegetable is nutritious, easy to cook, and associated with many health benefits.

When eaten raw, broccoli rabe has a very bitter flavor, so cooking and flavoring it is recommended. It is commonly used in Italian cooking where it is mixed with pasta, though it also makes for an excellent side dish when you want to add some greens to your plate.

Broccoli Rabe Nutrition Facts

The nutritional content of broccoli rabe depends on whether it is raw or cooked as well as the serving size. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (40g) of raw, chopped broccoli rabe.

  • Calories: 37
  • Fat: 0.19g
  • Sodium: 13.2mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1.14g
  • Fiber: 1.08g
  • Sugars: 0.15g
  • Protein: 1.27g

Carbs

One cup of raw, chopped broccoli rabe contains only 1.14g of carbohydrates and even fewer sugars (0.38g). The majority of the carbs in broccoli rabe come from fiber, with over 1g of fiber per serving. A diet rich in fiber is associated with digestive benefits as well as heart health. Since it is so low in carbs, broccoli rabe can be a nutritious source of nutrients to add to low-carb diets.

Fats

Broccoli rabe has only trace amounts of fat and 0mg cholesterol, so it is not a significant source of healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming larger servings of cooked broccoli rabe can increase your intake of these essential fatty acids, however. The vegetable is suitable for low-fat diets as well as those low in dietary cholesterol.

Protein

With 1.27g protein per 1 cup of raw broccoli rabe, this cruciferous vegetable should not be your main source of protein. However, if you eat plenty of vegetables per day, the protein content adds up. Pair broccoli rabe with other protein-rich vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and asparagus to get more protein from green vegetables.

Vitamins and Minerals

Since it is a green leafy vegetable, it is not surprising that broccoli rabe is a source of many nutrients. Broccoli rabe contains a variety of vitamins, including vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C. Minerals in broccoli rabe include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It is also a rich source of folate which is important for healthy cell growth, making it crucial during pregnancy.

Health Benefits

The nutritional profile of broccoli rabe contributes to its many health benefits.

May Lower Risk of Neural Tube Defects

Folate and the synthetic version, folic acid, have been shown to prevent neural tube defects, birth defects of the brain, spine, and spinal cord. The folate content in broccoli rabe may help prevent neural tube defects at the cellular level. The CDC recommends that women who may become pregnant should consume a folate-rich diet and consider supplementation of this important nutrient.

May Improve Cognitive Function

Broccoli rabe is a rich source of vitamin K. Studies have shown that vitamin K status has a positive correlation with cognitive function in healthy older adults. Eating foods high in vitamin K is also associated with improved heart health and bone health.

May Reduce Risk of Cancer

Broccoli rabe is one of many Brassica vegetables. Research has shown that Brassica vegetables, including rapini broccoli, contain phenolic compounds that can act as antioxidants. Since antioxidants have proven benefits related to reduced risk of cancer and protection against free radicals, consuming antioxidant-rich vegetables has many health benefits.

May Promote Weight Loss

Broccoli rabe is naturally lower in calories, fat, and carbs. It is also suitable for a variety of diets, including vegan, gluten-free, and keto diets. People with various health goals can incorporate broccoli rabe as part of their lifestyle, including people who want to lose weight in a sustainable, healthy way.

How to Prepare

Broccoli rabe can be eaten raw or cooked. Always wash your vegetables before eating them. Consuming raw broccoli rabe may yield a more bitter taste, so a quick blanch is recommended for a milder flavor. You can also grill and saute broccoli rabe.

Recipes

Broccoli rabe is commonly used in Italian cooking, though it can be incorporated in many types of cuisine and healthy recipes. The key to making broccoli rabe is using plenty of seasonings and spices and cooking it thoroughly.

If you are new to broccoli rabe, try blanching or sauteeing it with olive oil, and serving as a side dish with your favorite protein source.

For home chefs of all experience levels, try some of these healthy broccoli rabe recipes.

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Article Sources
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