An example of the superfoods is the broccoli. Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous group of vegetables. Naturally, broccoli is an an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. These are elements from Nature that have been extensively studied.
Epidemiological studies provideevidence that the consumption of this vegetable protects against cancer. The protection against cancer is mainly derived from altering estrogen metabolism and antioxidant properties, enhancing detoxification, decreasing carcinogen coumpound activation, slowing tumor growth and inducing cancer cell apoptosis (death). Such attributes qualify broccoli as a superfood.
American Institute of Cancer Research estimates that a daily intake of three servings would potentially reduce cancer rates by 20%.
Broccoli contains certain chemicals that may reduce the risk of colorectal or other cancers, although it is not clear which individual compounds may be responsible for the protective effects. While research in this area continues, the best advice at this time to reduce cancer risk is to eat a wide variety of vegetables. It is reasonable to include broccoli as part of a balanced diet.
roccoli has been around for more than 2,000 years but has only been commercially grown in the United States since the 1920s. Today, more than 90% of the broccoli harvested in the United States comes from California, although it is also grown in other parts of the country.
About 2 decades ago, researchers first suggested a possible link between diets high in cruciferous vegetables (a group of plants including cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts)) and a lower risk of cancer. However, it was not until the 1990s that certain chemicals found in broccoli were identified as possible cancer-preventing compounds. In 1997, a study was published that noted broccoli sprouts had higher levels of one of these compounds than mature broccoli.
Broccoli is a plant in the cabbage family, whose large flower head is used as a vegetable. The word broccoli, from the Italian plural of broccolo, refers to “the flowering top of a cabbage”. Broccoli is usually boiled or steamed but may be eaten raw and has become popular as a raw vegetable in hors d’œuvre trays. The leaves may also be eaten.
Broccoli is classified in the Italica cultivar group of the species Brassica oleracea. Broccoli has large flower heads, usually green in color, arranged in a tree-like structure on branchessprouting from a thick, edible stalk. The mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli most closely resembles cauliflower, which is a different cultivar group of the same species.
Broccoli was derived from cultivated leafy cole crops in the Northern Mediterranean in about the 6th century BCE. Since the Roman Empire, broccoli has been considered a uniquely valuable food among Italians. Broccoli was brought to England from Antwerp in the mid-18th century by Peter Scheemakers. Broccoli was first introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants but did not become widely known there until the 1920s
Broccoli is high in vitamin C and dietary fiber; it also contains multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and small amounts of selenium. A single serving provides more than 30 mg of vitamin C and a half-cup provides 52 mg of vitamin C. The 3,3′-Diindolylmethane found in broccoli is a potent modulator of theinnate immune response system with anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity. Broccoli also contains the compound glucoraphanin, which can be processed into an anti-cancer compound sulforaphane, though the benefits of broccoli are greatly reduced if the vegetable is boiled. Broccoli is also an excellent source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.
Boiling broccoli reduces the levels of suspected anti-carcinogenic compounds, such as sulforaphane, with losses of 20–30% after five minutes, 40–50% after ten minutes, and 77% after thirty minutes. However, other preparation methods such as steaming,microwaving, and stir frying had no significant effect on the compounds.
Broccoli has the highest levels of carotenoids in the brassica family. It is particularly rich in lutein and also provides a modest amount of beta-carotene.
A high intake of broccoli has been found to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Broccoli consumption may also help prevent heart disease.
Broccoli sprouts are often suggested for their health benefits
Broccoli, raw (edible parts)
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
||141 kJ (34 kcal)
|– Dietary fiber
|Vitamin A equiv.
||31 μg (4%)
||361 μg (3%)
|– lutein and zeaxanthin
|Thiamine (vit. B1)
||0.071 mg (6%)
|Riboflavin (vit. B2)
||0.117 mg (10%)
|Niacin (vit. B3)
||0.639 mg (4%)
|Pantothenic acid (B5)
||0.573 mg (11%)
||0.175 mg (13%)
|Folate (vit. B9)
||63 μg (16%)
||89.2 mg (107%)
||0.78 mg (5%)
||101.6 μg (97%)
||47 mg (5%)
||0.73 mg (6%)
||21 mg (6%)
||0.21 mg (10%)
||66 mg (9%)
||316 mg (7%)
||0.41 mg (4%)
|Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are relative to
US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient DatabaseBroccoli is considered a good source of nutrients because it is rich in vitamin C, carotenoids (vitamin A-like substances), fiber, calcium, and folate. Broccoli is also a source of many substances called phytochemicals, or plant chemicals, that may have anticancer properties. For example, broccoli contains several compounds called isothiocyanates, including sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which have been touted as possible anti-cancer agents in recent years. Early studies have shown these substances may act as anti-oxidants and may boost detoxifying enzymes in the body. Some studies have also suggested they may alter the levels of estrogen in the body, which might affect breast cancer risk.The chemical composition of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables is complex, which makes it hard to determine which compound or combination of compounds may provide protection against cancer. Eating a wide variety of plant-based foods may be the best way to get the necessary components.
Some researchers suggest that small amounts of broccoli sprouts may protect against the risk of cancer as effectively as much larger amounts of the mature vegetable. We are not aware of any clinical studies that have been done in humans to verify this claim.
Another substance in broccoli, indole-3-carbinol (I3C), seems to alter estrogen levels and may also raise levels of protective enzymes in the body. Several studies of cancer cells growing in laboratory dishes or flasks have shown it may slow or stop the growth of breast, prostate, and other cancer cells. Some early studies in animals have shown similar results. Small studies in humans have found it may prevent the development of pre-cancerous growths in the cervix, as well as growths called papillomas in the throat. Again, larger studies are needed to find out what benefits I3C may have against cancer.
The active molecules are Indole-3-carbinol (1H-indol-3-ylmethanol IUPAC name) and isothiocyanates (mostly sulforaphane: 1-Isothiocyanato-4-methylsulfinylbutane).
Indole-3-carbinol has a indole with a hydroxymethyl group that represents the hydrophilic group.
Sulfurofane is a isothiocyanate, it means that it has a –N=C=S chemical group, formed by substituting sulfur for oxygen in the isocyanate group, bounded to a big alkyl chain containing a sulfinyl S=O group.
Both indole-3-carbinol and sulphoraphane derive from glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are a class of organic compounds that contain sulfur and nitrogen and are derived from glucose and an amino acid. They occur as secondary metabolites of almost all plants of the order Brassicales.
GENERAL EFFECTS ON HEALTH
I3C has been shown to have a chemopreventive action on several human cancers. The first and greatest effects concern breast and cervical estrogen-dependant cancer. Later, many researches managed to relate I3C with the prevention from colon, lung and prostate cancer too.
Given that, I3C can be considered a general protector against many kinds of neoplasy. At the same time other groups found that it could also play a role in improving Systemic Lupus Erythematosus patient conditions.
The micronutrient indole-3-carbinol: implications for disease and chemoprevention, 2000
Sulforaphane, like I3C, is useful against many types of cancer. Moreover, it has antimicrobial properties, as it appears to help eradicate Helicobacter Pylori from the stomach.
Molecular targets of dietary phenethyl isothiocyanate and sulforaphane for cancer