The ILEAD Company® welcomes you to Fitness Friday. On Fridays, I will educate you on becoming mentally sound and physically fit. Nutrition and fitness is influential!
Let’s continue focusing on building up health bodies by learning about superfoods. The next superfood I would like to shed some light on is none other than broccoli.
Healthy Food – Give that Broccoli A Try
In 1992 a researcher at Johns Hopkins University announced the discovery of a compound found in broccoli that not only prevented the development of tumors by 60 percent in the studied group, but it also reduced the size of tumors that did develop by 75 percent. Broccoli is now one of the best-selling vegetables in North America. And, as a bonus, there are only 30 calories in one cup of broccoli.
The Power of Broccoli
Indeed, broccoli and its cruciferous sidekicks are among the most powerful weapons in our dietary arsenal against cancer. This alone is enough to elevate it to the status of a superfood. But, additionally, broccoli also boosts the immune system, lowers the incidence of cataracts, supports cardiovascular health, builds bones, and fights birth defects.
Broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense foods known at this time; it offers an incredibly high level of nutrition for a very low caloric cost. Of the ten most common vegetables eaten in the North America, broccoli is a clear winner in terms of total polyphenol content; it’s got more polyphenols than all other popular choices; only beets and red onions have more polyphenols per serving.
The development of cancer in the human body is a progressive illness that begins at the cellular level with an abnormality that typically only ten to twenty years later is diagnosed as cancer. While research continues at a furious pace to find ways to cure this deadly invader—after heart disease the greatest killer of Americans—most scientists have come to recognize that cancer might well be more easily prevented than cured.
Diet is the best tool we all have at hand to protect ourselves from developing cancer. We know that a typical Western diet plays a major role in the development of cancers and we know that at least 30 percent of all cancers are believed to have a dietary component. And this is good news.
What Does Additional Studies Say About Broccoli
Population studies first pointed to the role that broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables might play in cancer prevention. One ten-year study, published by the Harvard School of Public Health, of 47,909 men showed an inverse relationship between the consumption of cruciferous vegetables and the development of bladder cancer. Broccoli and cabbage seemed to provide the greatest protection. Countless studies have confirmed these findings. As long ago as 1982, the National Research Council on Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer found that “there is sufficient epidemiological evidence to suggest that consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a reduction in cancer.”
A very recent meta-analysis, which reviewed the results of eighty-seven studies, confirmed once again that broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables lower the risk of cancer. As little as 10 grams a day (less than 1/8 cup of chopped raw cabbage or chopped raw broccoli) can have a significant effect on your risk for developing cancer. Indeed, eating broccoli or its relatives is like getting a natural dose of chemoprevention.
One study showed that eating about two servings a day of leafy green vegetables may result in as much as a 50 percent reduction in the risk for certain types of cancers. While all crucifers seem to be effective in fighting cancer, cabbage, broccoli, and brussels sprouts seem to be the most powerful. Just ½ a cup of broccoli a day will protect you from a number of cancers, particularly cancers of the lung, stomach, colon, and rectum. No wonder broccoli is number one on the National Cancer Institute’s list of nutrition superstars.
The particular compounds in broccoli that are so effective include the phytochemicals, sulforaphane, and the indoles. Sulforaphane is a remarkably potent compound that fights cancer on a number of levels. It increases the enzymes that help rid the body of carcinogens, and actually kills abnormal cells. It helps the body limit oxidation—the process that initiates many chronic diseases—at the cellular level. Indoles work to combat cancer through their effect on estrogen. They block estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells, inhibiting the growth of estrogen-sensitive breast cancers.
The most important indole in broccoli—indole-3-carbinol, or I3C—is thought to be an especially effective breast cancer prevention agent.
Researchers estimate that broccoli sprouts provide ten to one hundred times the power of mature broccoli to neutralize carcinogens. A sprinkling of broccoli sprouts in your salad or on your sandwich can do more than even a couple of broccoli spears. This is especially good news for those few people-particularly children-who refuse to eat broccoli. Check www.broccosprouts.com to learn more about this nutrition-packed veggie.
If broccoli did nothing but protect us from cancer, that would be enough, but this mighty vegetable works on other fronts as well.
What Specifically Makes Broccoli So Powerful
Broccoli and its related crucifers are rich in folate, the B vitamin that is essential to preventing birth defects. Neural tube defects such as spina bifida have been linked to folic acid deficiency in pregnancy. A single cup of raw, chopped broccoli provides more than 50 milligrams of folate (the plant form of folic acid). Folate also is active in helping to remove homocysteine from the circulatory system; high levels of homocysteine are associated with cardiovascular disease. Folate also plays a role in cancer prevention. Interestingly, folic-acid deficiency may be the most common vitamin deficiency in the world.
We all know how common cataracts are in our aging population. Broccoli can help here too! Broccoli is rich in the powerful phytochemical carotenoid antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin (as well as vitamin C). Both of these carotenoids are concentrated in the lens and retina of the eye. One study found that people who ate broccoli more than twice weekly had a 23 percent lower risk of cataracts when compared to those who ate broccoli less than once a month. Lutein/zeaxanthin and vitamin C also serve to protect the eyes from the free-radical damage done to the eyes by ultraviolet light.
Broccoli and cruciferous vegetables are also bone builders. One cup of raw broccoli provides 41 milligrams of calcium along with 79 milligrams of vitamin C, which promotes the absorption of calcium. Whole milk and other full-fat dairy products, long touted as the main sources of calcium, contain no vitamin C and are often loaded with saturated fat and many more calories than the 25 in 1 cup of raw, chopped broccoli. Broccoli also supplies a significant portion of vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting, and also contributes to bone health.
Broccoli is a great source of the flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin C, folate, and potassium that help prevent heart disease. It also provides generous amounts of fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin B6, which promote cardiovascular health. Broccoli is one of the few vegetables, along with spinach, that are relatively high in coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a fat-soluble antioxidant that is a major contributor to the production of energy in our bodies. At least in people with diagnosed heart disease, CoQ10 may play a cardio-protective role.
About 25 percent of the population inherit an aversion to the bitter taste of cruciferous vegetables. If this describes you, add salt, it makes them taste sweeter. Use them in a stir-fry with low-sodium soy sauce or add them to casseroles and lasagnes.
Powerful stuff, isn’t it? We are continuing to shine light on broccoli on FB as well ass tonight on the night show (LIVE via audio on my FB timeline). On the show, I will be sharing more knowledge on this superfood and a few great recipes as well. Chat with you soon!