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Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family; it is high in chlorophyll giving its usual green color. Broccoli has a cooling nature and is rich in Vitamins, Iron and fiber with anti-cancer properties. It is a great as a stir-fry vegetable or lightly steamed.

The thermal nature is cooling.
The flavour is .
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What it is

Broccoli, from the cabbage family, is a plant of many flower heads coming from and a thick edible stalk in a tree like arrangement. Broccoli originates from wild cabbage, which is originally from the north and western coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, which has been an Italian vegetable since roman times. 

There are 3 common types. The most familiar, often called Calabrese in the UK, has a large (10 –20 cm) green head and thick stalks. There is also sprouting broccoli, which has a large number of heads with many thin stalks. Finally there is Purple cauliflower, a type of broccoli that has a head shaped like cauliflower, with many tiny flower buds. It sometimes, but not always, has a purple cast to the tips of the flower buds.

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What is in it

Broccoli is an excellent source of Fiber, folate and the Vitamins A, C and K; it is a very good source of the minerals manganese, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, then omega-3 fatty acids and the vitamins B2 and B6. Broccoli is a good source of the minerals iron, Calcium, zinc and the vitamins B1, B3, B5 and E.

Broccoli has more vitamin C that citrus fruit and contains a moderate level of sulfur.  If lightly cooked the rich chlorophyll content will counteract the gas formation caused by the sulfur. Broccoli leaf is also edible and contains far more beta-carotene than the florets

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What it is good for

It contains nutrients with anti-cancer properties including diindolylmethane (DIM) and selenium. The DIM found in broccoli has strong anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity. 

The benefits of broccoli are greatly reduced if the vegetable is boiled more than ten minutes.

A high intake of broccoli can reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. 

• Diuretic
• Brightens the eyes
• Treats summer heat conditions
• Helps rough skin
• Reduces eye inflammation and nearsightedness.

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When you get it

Broccoli is a cool season annual crop. It does poorly in hot summer weather.

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Which to select

Choose broccoli that has a tightly packed head with an even deep color. The stem should be firm with no blemishes or bruises.

There should be no yellowing of the leaves of flowerets; the entire vegetable should appear crisp and fresh.

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Where to store

Store in the crisper of the refrigerator without water contact as the water will cause deterioration. For this reason it is best not to wash broccoli before storing. Broccoli will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Blanched broccoli can be stored in the freezer for many months.

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How to use

Wash broccoli very well under cold running water before use to remove all debris and other matter.

Broccoli is usually steamed or boiled. Broccoli is also a great in stir-fries and is increasingly popular eaten raw with hors-d’oeuvres.

Steaming is preferable as boiling can reduce its anti-cancer properties also if lightly cooked the rich chlorophyll content will counteract the gas formation caused by the sulfur. Broccoli should still be firm with some crispness after cooking.

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How much you need

To reach your health goals and become healthy the most important step is to eat a well balanced diet of food from across all the food groups. 

For an average person 
Servings per food group. 
Whole Grains (Carbohydrates):  6 – 8 
Meat and beans (Protein):  1 – 2 
High quality fats: 1
Dairy:     2 - 3
Fruit: 2
Vegetables: 5
Water: 6

This list is of recommended daily amount of each food group for an average person 19 to 50 years old with a low level of exercise (30minutes of less a day). If you are older you may need a little less, if you are younger, a little more and if you are very active even more food should be eaten. For more information on serving sizes see our special feature on Sizing Up A Serve.

It is important to ensure that the foods that you eat are of a high quality. The highest quality product is one that is fresh, whole and organic.

Fresh – over time the quality of nutrients degrades with their potency dying off.

Whole – many foods, particularly vegetarian foods carry a lot of their nutrients in their outer skins. So leave bran, germs and skins on the food where possible. Always with grains and whenever the fruit of vegetable permits.

Organic – ensure you have the cleanest food by using only foods that are grown without pesticides, or other chemicals, in a natural way as people have in all bar the last 80 years of history. Chemical burdened foods are a modern invention designed to increase output with little regard to the health of the end user.

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Things to watch out for

Broccoli has 5 goitrogenous chemicals, which inhibit your ability to use iodine. In cases of thyroid deficiency and low iodine it is best to avoid broccoli.

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The Journal of Nutrition – The American Society for Nutrition,, retrieved 05/2009.

Wikipedia,,  retrieved 04/2009

Bratman, Steven, and David Kroll. Natural Health Bible. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1999.

Paul Pitchford. Healing with whole food, North Atlantic Books, 2002.

Susanna Lyle, Discovering Vegetables, Herbs and Spices, CSIRO PUBLISHING / David Bateman, New Zealand, 2009.

Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders, 2004.

Norton Greenberger M.D. and Roanne Weisman, 4 Weeks to Healthy Digestion, Harvard School of Public Health. (2008)

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