Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. For a long time now, scientists have been telling that eating broccoli is good for us. Evidence is mounting that this green colored vegetable is more than just tasty. Among the many benefits it brings is the ability to fight cancer in many forms. This is due to the presence in it of phytochemicals that have the ability to destroy some diseases and prevent others from attacking the body. To get the full benefit of broccoli, it is important to eat sufficient quantities. The prescribed amount to reap complete benefit is ½ a cup of broccoli on all 7 days of the week. But as no one is likely to eat broccoli on all days, it is better to have 2 or 3 cups once a week.
How To Cook Broccoli?
Most vegetables lose some of their goodness when exposed to high heat with the result that nutritionists have begun advising people to cook then in such a way that as little of the goodness gets lost. Broccoli, fortunately, is one vegetable that can be eaten completely raw. It may not be possible to eat the stems as they have tough fibers, but the florets can be eaten raw. It can also be grated coarsely into salads and tossed with a light dressing. Vitamins are water soluble so when the vegetable is cooked in water, the vitamins leach into water and are lost. Phytochemicals may not be heat stable and can get destroyed by heat when cooked.
If at all broccoli has to be cooked, ensure it is only steamed with the smallest amount of water. The heat applied should not be higher than 100 degrees Celsius. The fiber in broccoli supplies all the roughage that the body needs. Broccoli contains calcium which is important to keep bones healthy. For individuals who do not consume dairy products, broccoli is a vital source of calcium. Citrus fruits are usually associated with vitamin C but broccoli is also rich in this vitamin. A mere half cup of broccoli will provide 2% of daily requirement of Vitamin C, 20% of vitamin A, 2% of iron and 4% of the daily need of iron. When chewed raw, the glucosinolates present is broccoli are released. This bitter tasting chemical prevents free radicals from damaging healthy cells.
Coming to the issue of storage of broccoli, it is better not to wash before storing. Wet broccoli is more likely to spoil when stored in the fridge. While buying broccoli to be eaten raw, choose heads which are tight and dense, with no spots or yellow showing through. Place the broccoli heads in a plastic bag after removing as much of air as possible from the bag. When stored well, it can stay fresh for nearly 10 days. Partial heads of broccoli should be consumed as the cut edges lose Vitamin C rapidly. Broccoli can be lightly blanched and frozen for up to a year.