By Veronica Worley, July 2, 2020

Broccoli- Superfood or Not?

Broccoli's reputation as one of the world's healthiest vegetables still rings true despite the fact that it is both one of the most hated yet most well-loved vegetables in our country. Everyone has an opinion: nutritionists, presidents and celebrities share their experiences with it. Broccoli gets a lot of flak for being "yucky", tasteless, or difficult to chew. Some people can't stomach it raw, as a crudité. Others can't stand it cooked and many say it has a strong flavor and therefore a strong odor as it cooks.

Despite the mixed reactions, broccoli maintains the royal status as one of the most popular and most nutritious foods available. In fact, broccoli is full of so many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that it is hailed as one of the top 10 superfoods.

I used to be one of those who believed that cooked broccoli was too strong and too mushy. I refused to even touch the vegetable, until one day I tasted bright-green broccoli that was tender and succulent, yet still maintained some crispness, and had a mild, almost sweet, addictive flavor. I was hooked. Through research and experimentation, I discovered why so many people refuse to eat this tasty vegetable.

The secret to getting your children and family members (and maybe you!) eating broccoli is to NOT overcook this beauty. Cooked broccoli should NOT be pale green in color, but bright-green with a crisp, yet tender texture.

Health Benefits of Broccoli

Broccoli is truly a super-food based on its many nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Broccoli is high in Vitamins A, D, K, C, B6, folic acid, calcium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, fiber and even protein. Pound for pound, broccoli contains more protein than a steak. It is also rich in beta-carotene, which aids eye health, and antioxidants that fight aging.

Just some of the main benefits of broccoli:

  • prevents disease and sickness, and even some cancers
  • improves immune system (Vit. C)
  • lowers blood pressure (potassium)
  • aids nervous system and brain function (potassium)
  • improves health of the eyes (lutein)
  • weight loss – (antioxidants which help fight inflammation; fiber, which is filling)
  • bone health – (calcium and Vitamin K support bones)
  • immune health – (high levels of Vitamin C raise immunity)

Serving Broccoli

Broccoli can be eaten raw, steamed, grilled, roasted, or pureed. You name it, and you can eat it that way! It can be served as a snack, side dish, vegetable, main dish, salad, soup, and dessert (okay, am not sure about a dessert). My favorite form is lightly steamed until crisp and tender, with a dollop of butter and salt and pepper. You can even eat broccoli sprouts which are known for their cancer-fighting properties. Broccoli sprouts have 50-100% more Sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting substance, than mature broccoli. Eating broccoli sprouts is like eating many mature broccoli plants a day without all the crunching! Win-Win! I enjoy broccoli sprouts on my salads, in wraps, or on a sandwich, and aim for ½ cup of sprouts every day.

Steam broccoli for 4-6 minutes until bright green in color, and just tender yet crisp. Top with a slab of butter or coconut oil before serving. My family eats it up with none left! I always make sure broccoli is on our dinner table 3-4 times a week!

Growing and Harvesting Broccoli

Broccoli is fairly easy to grow depending on where you live. I have lived in a variety of climates, from Minnesota to Alabama, and have learned how to be successful with growing broccoli in any growing climate. Broccoli is a cool-weather vegetable. Growing broccoli from seed is fairly simple. Putting plants in the ground late summer and late fall work best here in the Deep South. This gives me a fall crop, and an early spring crop. What I appreciate about broccoli is that after harvesting the main head, it continues to put out side-shoots over the summer (in cooler climates). When we lived in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma, I would put out plants in early spring, and after harvesting the main head, six plants would give one to two meals a week all summer just from side shoots. But here in Alabama, the plants are done by June and have to be pulled up.

For proper planting times in your area, see our Vegetable Garden Planting Calendar
For a complete guide to growing Broccoli and other vegetables, see our Books of Vegetables Collection

Broccoli is a powerhouse in the garden and on the table. If you haven't tried growing it yet, give it a try this summer or fall. Not only is it tasty, but prolific in the garden.

So, eat up and enjoy the many health benefits. Be creative and learn new ways to serve broccoli. I dare you!

Want some awesome recipes using broccoli?
Spicy Thai Broccoli
Broccoli Salad With a Twist

About Veronica Worley
Thumb of 2020-06-10/Trish/5ee9ecVeronica Worley, MS, FDN-P, CHHC, is an avid gardener, who has gardened for nutrition over the past two decades. Having studied nutrition and now working as an FDN-P (Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner), she has taught herself how to garden for the best nutrition, and has gone on to teach others the same. She has developed an edible landscape in her yard, and intentionally grows vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs for medicine and nutrition. She is in the process of writing her first book on Using Vegetables, Herbs and Flowers to Heal Your Body of Chronic Illness.

As an FDN-P, she helps men and women age gracefully and beautifully by getting to the root cause of belly fat, energy loss, hormone and mineral imbalance. She strongly believes that mineral imbalance is the root cause of most chronic symptoms and disease today. Using functional lab testing, food and lifestyle changes, one can overcome most diseases naturally without medication. And she teaches others how to grow their own food to help balance minerals in one's daily food and lifestyle.

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