|Botanical: Brassica oleracea italica
Family: Brassicaceae (cabbages) - formerly Cruciferae (mustards)
Do not leave Broccoli out of your diet! Its extraordinary vitamins, minerals and fiber are essential to your good health. But aside from its nutrient-packed value, it is also thought to boost the body's resistance to invasive infection and free-radical damage to cells, as well as enhance carcinogen-fighting enzymes and reduce elevated estrogen levels. Broccoli is also believed to promote healthy blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Broccoli is a branching, dark-green annual that derives its name from the Latin bracchium, meaning "branch of trees" or "arm." The plant grows to about two feet in height with edible green heads and thick stems. It was first grown in Europe, most notably in Italy and France; however, its high degree of perfection was developed by Danish gardeners, and as a member of the cabbage family, it is one of the intermediate forms between wild cabbage and the cauliflower (of which it is the progenitor). The plant grows best in a cool, mild climate in a well-limed, loamy soil that is well irrigated. Broccoli did not become popular in the United States until the early twentieth century, but is now an extremely important crop, due to the fact that it is so revered for its nutritious and disease-fighting qualities. There are interesting developments on the horizon regarding the use of natural herbals in the fight against prostate cancer. Rutgers University scientists injected laboratory mice with Turmeric (also called Curcumin) and PEITC (phenethyl isothiocyanate), which is found naturally in cruciferous vegetables (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, etc.) - after introducing human prostate cancer cells into the animals - either alone or in tandem. They reported that when Turmeric or PEITC was injected separately in new cancerous tumors, the growth of the tumors was retarded, but in well-established tumors, there was little effect. However, when the combination of Turmeric and the PEITC found in Broccoli was injected in combination, the results produced even stronger effects and significantly reduced tumor growth. Broccoli is extremely high in nutrient content and loaded with chlorophyll and selenium, plus carotenoids, vitamins A, C, B-6, B-12, B-9 and K, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. Although in all cruciferous vegetables, the active plant chemical glucosinolates are most notably visible in Broccoli. These are metabolised by the body into isothiocyanates (PEITC as above), which are now known to be powerful anticarcinogens, and the main isothiocyanate in Broccoli is the all-important sulforaphane.
Broccoli (in addition to other members in the cruciferous family, such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, etc.) has lately been credited with the ability to enhance the body's resistance to invasion of foreign toxins and malignant infection. Significant medical and scientific studies from Johns Hopkins suggested that the sulforaphane and histidine in Broccoli boost the body's immunity and carcinogen-fighting enzymes (quinone reductase, glutathione S-transferase) and help fight free radicals in the body that can cause damage to important cellular molecules. Free radicals are a "toxic" byproduct of everyday metabolism, but in excessive number, free radicals may be a factor in many serious ailments. Those same constituents in Broccoli appear to rid the system of harmful chemical additives, detoxify carcinogens and may reduce severe problems in the colon, rectum and prostate. The high-fiber content in Broccoli is also said to reduce transit time through the colon, thereby reducing contact time between fecal carcinogens and the colonic mucosa on the walls of the colon. It is believed that because sulforaphane enables the body's protective proteins to do a better job at clearing out carcinogens, it would clearly be most effective during those periods when carcinogens are most active, well before any problems are clinically detectable. Both vitamin C and beta carotene (vitamin A) are antioxidants, which are also believed to reduce and prevent the damage caused to human cells by free radicals.
Research has also suggested that cruciferous vegetables (including Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts and Cabbage) may help counteract excessive levels of estrogen, which have been linked to breast cancer. They contain detoxifying substances that bind up estrogen and help eliminate it from the body. In addition, they contain Indole-3-carbinol (indoles), which may also have anticarcinogenic effects.
More good news about Broccoli's beneficial effects on colon health: According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, an article entitled "Colon Cancer Curbed by High-Selenium Broccoli" and published in Agricultural Research, high-selenium broccoli may be the best source of an anticancer agent. Broccoli stores selenium in a form known as selenium methyl selenocysteine, or SeMSC. The body simply snips the end off this amino acid to produce the anticancer agent—methyl selenol. To read more about this research, here is the full Department of Agriculture report.
Broccoli may significantly reduce the risk of heart problems by protecting the heart from free radicals, inflammation and high blood pressure. Its high fiber content helps to reduce the total overall serum cholesterol and may dramatically reduce LDL, the low-density lipoproteins or "bad" cholesterol, which frequently causes hardening of the arteries and the development of coronary heart problems and strokes later on in life.
Further supporting Broccoli's role in promoting healthy heart function is its high vitamin and mineral content. Dr. Louis Tobian of the University of Minnesota believes that most people do not get enough potassium in their diet and says that a lack of potassium can also cause a weakening of arterial wall, leading to potential cardiovascular problems due to the stresses of high blood pressure. Broccoli contains fifteen percent of your daily value of potassium in a 2000 kcal/day diet. It has also been reported that the folate content in Broccoli, along with the other B-vitamins, help to protect against heart ailments. They help control homocysteine, an amino acid, which is produced normally in the blood, but has currently been linked as a risk factor for poor heart function.
Additional new cardiac research indicated that Broccoli's sulforaphane content activates Nrf2. While the protein is normally protective and anti-inflammatory, in areas of arteries that are susceptible to disease, London-based researchers found that Nrf2 became inactive. However, exposure to sulforaphane reduced inflammation at the high-risk areas by 'switching on' Nrf2 and reduced the progression of arterial disease in affected arteries. Through its action on other proteins, it prevented the cells from becoming inflamed, which is an early stage in the development of atherosclerosis.
As a nutrient-dense food, Broccoli may be very helpful in reducing the effects of bone loss and osteoporosis. The University of California's Wellness Letter indicates that Broccoli has as much calcium, ounce for ounce, as milk, and calcium is an essential mineral in building and maintaining bone mass, as well as controlling muscle functions.
Broccoli may be helpful in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels because of its high fiber content. Eating a diet high in fiber is believed to improve the control of blood sugar, as soluble fiber appears to delay the emptying of the stomach and therefore slows the absorption of glucose in the intestine.
Currently, there are no known warnings or contraindications with the use of Broccoli Herbal Supplement.