THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF BROCCOLI
Broccoli, which is mostly cultivated in Europe, comes from the cruciferae family. The edible parts of the plants from this family are both the leaves (for example, green cabbage, savoy cabbage, Chinese cabbage, sea kale, black cabbage, Brussels sprouts) and the stalk (in the case of broccoli, sprouting broccoli and cauliflower). Broccoli is loved by many because, as well as being tasty and enjoyable, it has very few calories (27Kcal per 100g) and so is often consumed in low calorie diets. There are many different varieties of broccoli but there are 2 main ones: regular broccoli, which has a short trunk, is bright green and has white flowers that are similar to those of the cauliflower, but smaller; sprouting broccoli, which is also similar to cauliflower, is blue-green on top and has soft, dark green sprouts called broccoletti. Broccoli is usually eaten boiled or steamed as these cooking methods bring out the flavour the most. Both cabbage and broccoli are Winter time vegetables, therefore it is best to buy them during this season, when the prices are also lower.
Curious about cabbage and broccoli?
Some people say that cabbage and broccoli have been around since ancient times: cabbage was supposedly sacred for Greeks and Romans, who used it to heal different illnesses and who actually ate it raw during banquets so that their bodies could absorb alcohol better! With the passing of time, cabbage and broccoli then became very common and their presence on our tables has noticeably increased, thanks to their numerous qualities, and for many years they have been considered the ideal food to eat during difficult, financial times. Perhaps the only negative point is the unpleasant smell that broccoli gives off whilst it is being cooked, which is due to the small amount of sulphur contained in it.
Steaming is definitely the best way to cook broccoli as it brings out the flavour of as well as preserving its nutrients and health properties.
Health properties and nutrients
Broccoli is rich in minerals (calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium), vitamins C, B1 and B2, fibre and thiazolidione, substances that are particularly effective in treating thyroid problems. Furthermore, they contain sulforaphane, a substance that not only can prevent the growth of carcinogenic cells, but also inhibit the process of cell division resulting in apoptosis (cell death). Sulforaphane, together with isothiocyanates, carries out a protective action, especially against intestinal, lung and breast tumours. They also have anti-anaemia, emollient, diuretic, healing, purifying and worming powers.
Broccoli is also helpful in cases of chronic constipation as it provides a lot of plant fibre, and experts also recommend eating it because it contains a lot of antioxidants that can help to reinforce the immune system. In addition, it can help to combat helicobacter pylori, a very resistant bacteria that takes over gastric mucus, causing gastritis and ulcers. Broccoli, like all vegetables, helps to combat water retention too as it encourages the body to detoxify and remove toxins and harmful chemicals. Lastly, broccoli also helps to reduce the risk of getting cataracts and having strokes.
As mentioned, this vegetable is very good those following a low calorie diet as it is tasty yet hypo-calorific. It is also very good for people who are extremely fatigued and lacking vitamins, as well as in situations when we feel very anxious or irritable.
Broccoli: a miracle cure for the lungs
This miracle cure came about as a result of a study carried out at the Johns Hopkins Medical School, which was later published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Broccoli is said to be the perfect medicine against lung diseases, asthma and breathing problems in general and so, as well as already being considered the best antioxidant, we can now take advantage of its ‘lung saver’ properties too.
How to choose, preserve and clean broccoli
Broccoli heads must be compact, firm, bright green, mark-free and have no yellow colouring. The leaves should be firm but fragile, plentiful and they should make a dry sound when they break. Broccoli should be stored in the fridge, in the fruit and vegetable compartment, for 4-5 days. They are very easy to clean: remove the leaves and break the heads off of the trunk then clean them carefully under running water.
A classic recipe
Pasta with broccoli:
Ingredients for 3 people:
- 700g of broccoli
- 350g of orecchiette pasta
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 small chilli peppers
- 4 spoonfuls of extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt
Preparation: remove the broccoli stalks and then wash the heads. Fill a large pan with water and boil. Just before the water comes to the boil add the broccoli and a pinch of sea salt. Leave for 5 minutes and then add the orecchiette. In the mean time, peel a garlic clove and crush the chilli peppers. When cooked, drain the broccoli and pasta and then, using the same pan, pour in the olive oil, garlic and pepper and brown for 2 minutes. Then add the pasta and broccoli along with 2 spoonfuls of parmesan, mix and then serve.