Broccoli is low in carbs and calories, but it isn’t short on the nutrition. Many people include broccoli on the Keto diet.
Whether it’s eaten in soups, salads, omelets, as a stir-fry, or a side dish, broccoli is one of the most versatile veggies that comes along with so many important health benefits. In fact, the abundance of nutrients and fiber contained in broccoli can help you feel satiated while on a low carb diet.
Keep reading to find out all the reasons why you should feel good about making broccoli a regular part of your diet.
How Many Carbs are in Broccoli?
- There are 6 grams of carbs in a cup of chopped broccoli.
- A 5-inch long broccoli spear contains 2 grams of carbs.
How Many Calories are in Broccoli?
- There are 31 calories in a full cup of chopped broccoli.
- A 5-inch long broccoli spear contains only 11 calories.
|Serving grams size: 1 cup chopped broccoli|
|Total Fat 0.3 grams||0%|
|Saturated fat 0 grams||0%|
|Polyunsaturated fat 0 grams|
|Monounsaturated fat 0 grams|
|Cholesterol 0 milligrams||0%|
|Sodium 30 milligrams||1%|
|Potassium 287.6 milligrams||8%|
|Total Carbohydrate 6 grams||2%|
|Dietary fiber 2.4 grams||9%|
|Sugar 1.5 grams|
|Protein 2.6 grams||5%|
|Vitamin A||11%||Vitamin C||135%|
|Vitamin D||0%||Vitamin B-6||10%|
The word broccoli comes from the Italian word broccolo, which means “the flowering crest of a cabbage”, and brocco, meaning “sprout”. Broccoli originated in Italy by way of the Mediterranean and has been consumed since the 6th Century BC by ancient Romans.
Broccoli is of the species Brassica oleracea and is a manmade crop. It was created by Italian farmers over 2,000 years ago, by breeding different types of wild cabbage to create it. Broccoli and cauliflower came about by breeding cabbages with larger flower buds.
Types of Broccoli
There are 3 main varieties of broccoli:
- Calabrese Broccoli — The most popular type that most of us are familiar with, often referred to as simply, “broccoli”. Calabrese broccoli was named after Calabria in Italy. It has large heads and thick stalks. It is an annual crop that grows in the cool seasons.
- Sprouting Broccoli — Sprouting broccoli has more heads with thinner stalks.
- Purple Cauliflower — despite its name, it is a type of broccoli grown in Europe and North America. It has a cauliflower-shaped head that consists of tiny flower buds, which sometimes has a purple cast to them.
Rich in Antioxidants
Broccoli is a chock full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants making it a true nutritional powerhouse.
The various bioactive compounds in broccoli reduce inflammation in your body’s tissues. The vitamin C that is abundant in broccoli is an essential nutrient for immune function. Just 1 cup of broccoli provides the equivalent amount of Vitamin C in an orange.
Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, reduces cell damage caused by chronic diseases. Multiple small studies have shown that eating cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli may ward off various types of cancer.
Eating broccoli helps stabilize blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, which is believed to be a result of the vegetable’s antioxidant content.
Positive Effects on Blood Sugar Levels
A study on humans showed decreased insulin resistance when subjects with type 2 diabetes consumed broccoli sprouts daily for 30 days.
Another study on animals showed decreased blood sugar and decreased pancreatic cell damage in diabetic rats given broccoli extract.
The fiber in broccoli is believed to assist blood sugar control. Other research studies indicate that a higher intake of dietary fiber is associated with improved diabetic control and lowered blood sugar levels.
Positive Effects on LDL Cholesterol Levels
Studies show that broccoli may support heart health in a variety of ways. Broccoli may play a role in lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as increasing “good” HDL cholesterol. One study showed positive results on cholesterol levels of subjects given a powdered broccoli sprout supplement.
Prevents Age-Related Disease
Oxidative stress and reduced metabolic function are part of the aging process. Although aging is a natural and unavoidable, eating a high-quality diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is instrumental in avoiding age-related diseases.
Studies show that the sulforaphane in broccoli may slow the aging process through increasing the expression of antioxidant genes. The nutrients in broccoli also slow mental decline and support healthy brain function.
Supports Healthy Teeth and Bones
Broccoli contains powerhouse of nutrients, including vitamin C and calcium, which are shown to support dental health and prevent oral diseases.
Vitamin C and calcium are associated with a lowered risk of periodontal disease. A flavonoid found in broccoli called Kaempferol may also play a role in preventing periodontitis.
A number of nutrients found in broccoli, like vitamin K and calcium help maintain healthy bones and prevent bone-related disorders.
Broccoli is generally safe to eat in reasonable food amounts. Any side effects experienced are not typically serious.
The most common side effect is gas or bloating, caused by broccoli’s high fiber content. All cruciferous vegetables can make you gassy or cause bowel irritation, but the health benefits far outweigh the discomfort.
When applied to the skin: Broccoli may cause an allergic rash in people with hypersensitive skin.
The part of the broccoli crop that grows above the ground is used to make medicine. Broccoli is used in the prevention of cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, bladder, and stomach. It is also a powerful immune system booster.
Broccoli can also be used to help lower cholesterol. One study revealed that drinking a beverage containing broccoli juice daily for 30 days reduced LDL cholesterol in subjects with high cholesterol.
Broccoli is safe for pregnant and breast-feeding women in food amounts. But larger medicinal amounts should be avoided until more studies are conducted.
For best results, store ahead of broccoli unwashed, in a ventilated plastic bag inside the refrigerator to keep it fresh and make sure to use it within 5 days.
Fiber in Broccoli
1 Cup of chopped broccoli contains 2.5 grams of fiber.
Sugar in Broccoli
1 Cup of chopped broccoli contains only 1.5 grams of sugar.
Protein in Broccoli
There is 2.6 grams of protein in a cup of chopped broccoli.
Broccoli Benefits for Skin
Broccoli is loaded with many vitamins and minerals that are vital for skin health, including vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc. This vegetable also contains a carotenoid called lutein that works much like beta-carotene by protecting your skin from oxidative damage, which can cause fine lines and wrinkles.
Research indicates that properties in broccoli may protect against UV radiation damage and skin cancer.
In certain animal studies, the ingestion of broccoli extract shrunk tumors in mice with skin cancer induced from UV radiation.
Does Broccoli Cause Gas?
Cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli and cauliflower, contain complex sugars that the body can’t digest, called raffinose. This sugar remains undigested until it is fermented by bacteria in the gut. This results in gas and bloating.
Broccoli also produces gas in the body because of its high soluble and insoluble fiber content. The insoluble fiber doesn’t break down until reaching the small intestine.
Is Broccoli Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, the body requires a wide array of vitamins, minerals and protein to support both baby and mother. Broccoli is a good source of B vitamins, most importantly B9 – also known as folate. Folate is a vital nutrient for the development of the fetus’ brain and spinal cord. Regular consumption of foods rich in folate, like broccoli can help ensure the birth of a healthy baby.
In addition, studies show that broccoli eaten by the mother supports the healthier cognitive development of new-borns.