Broccoli is one of the most versatile and nutritious vegetables you can eat. It’s a popular side dish when steamed, and can be incorporated into a tasty salad or casserole. Broccoli is a staple of everything from restaurant menus to vegetable trays.
Health Benefits of Broccoli
This cruciferous vegetable goes by the name of Brassica oleracea var. Italica. It’s packed with vitamins and other nutrients. Broccoli has high levels of vitamin C and vitamin K. Eating broccoli regularly can health to lower inflammation throughout the body. It’s also effective at reducing the bad type of cholesterol called triglycerides. It may help to improve bone health and slow down the aging process.
Broccoli is a true powerhouse of health and can be an incredible regular addition to your diet. Eat it raw for a quick snack, use it as a side dish to your meal, or add some protein and a few seasonings to transform it into the main course.
To grow broccoli at home, you will need a garden space that receives full sun for the best results. This plant likes moist but well-drained soil. Mulch can help to keep the soil damp without being overly saturated, which can damage the plants.
The dense head of broccoli grows at the center of the leaf structure. Plant seeds far apart to allow for adequate room to develop without overcrowding which can result in a smaller yield. A distance of 12 to 18 inches apart is recommended. Mature broccoli heads have a tree-like structure of florets. These smaller pieces become interconnected to form the mature plant.
It’s best to harvest your broccoli before the plant goes to seed, which is indicated by the appearance of yellow flowers.
Properties of Cruciferous Vegetable
The cruciferous family of vegetables can be susceptible to diseases of both the leaf and root of the plant. They also tend to attract harmful pests like various species of worms and beetles. Prevent disease and loss of your carefully tended vegetables by checking your garden regularly. Inspect the plants so you can spot any signs of a damaged crop early and intervene.
Cruciferous vegetables do best in cooler climates. You will also see better results when the growing location is rotated. Try to plant these types of vegetables in a different spot of your garden each year to protect them from any potential pests and diseases that have lingered in the soil.
The Latin word Cruciferae means “cross-bearing” and was the inspiration behind this type of vegetable’s name. Cruciferous vegetables have a four-petaled flower that resembles a cross.
Most of these vegetables contain high levels of vitamins that are great for cancer prevention and controlling blood sugar, inflammation, and cholesterol. They can aid the body in many ways, from improved dental health to protection from sun damage.
A healthy body and lifestyle can be achieved more easily with a clean diet. Vegetables should be part of each meal since they contain so many vitamins. They offer a great amount of nutrition without the filler and empty calories of processed foods.
Broccoli is just one of many cruciferous vegetables that are known for being packed with nutrition and great for satiety. They will keep you feeling satisfied and lessen the urge to snack on unhealthy alternatives.
There are so many delicious ways to prepare broccoli to keep from getting bored, but you may want to change up your meal plan by swapping out the broccoli once in a while for one of these fabulous choices. The secret to staying committed to your healthy eating plan is to add even more variety and options.
The distinct plant structure of broccoli is mirrored in another cruciferous vegetable called cauliflower, or Brassica oleracea var. botrytis, although this plant produces a white vegetable instead of the deep green broccoli is known for. Like other cruciferous vegetables, it also prefers full sun.
Cauliflower heads can be harvested with a sharp knife, but leave a couple of inches of stem so that the florets remain intact.
Cauliflower is packed with fiber, antioxidants, and choline. It’s a great choice if you are trying to lose weight, and is also thought to boost memory and brain function.
A popular way to consume cauliflower is by mashing or grating it to use as a substitute for rice and other grains. It can even be used as the base for a healthier pizza crust. You can blend cauliflower and combine it with milk or broth to make a savory sauce. This vegetable can even be sliced and grilled into “steaks” for a hardy main dish.
Brassica oleracea var. capitata, commonly called Cabbage, is known for its dense head of leaves. There are several varieties of cabbage that come in unique colors of green, red, and white. Cabbage contains very high levels of vitamin C. It’s helpful with lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and may even protect your eyes from vision loss.
The most popular ways to eat cabbage are in coleslaw or sauerkraut. Coleslaw is a refreshing and cool summer staple that can be eaten on its own or placed on top of a burger or sandwich. The fermentation process of making sauerkraut offers additional benefits and will balance and increase your gut health.
Kale, Brassica oleracea var. sabellica, has grown significantly in popularity in recent years. It may not have much in common with broccoli when you consider looks, but it does come from the same plant family. It’s a great health food and can easily be added to salads and smoothies.
Some people don’t enjoy the bitter taste, but this can be lessened when combined with some sweet-tasting fruit or berries.
If you want a fast and convenient snack, toss chopped kale leaves in olive oil and salt. Bake in the oven until crisp to enjoy a healthy and savory replacement for fatty potato chips.
Kale is a dark green leafy vegetable. It deserves all the love it gets since it is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables there is. Kale contains high levels of antioxidants, Quercetin, and Karempferol. It can help to do everything from lower your cholesterol levels to fight cancer.
Kale is easy to grow, so you may want to add it to your garden. If you don’t have space, a few containers planted with this nutritious food are sufficient for keeping a steady supply on hand.
Brassica napa subsp. Chinensis is a cruciferous vegetable native to China. It’s high in vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber content and supports a healthy thyroid. Add it to your salads or use it on a sandwich instead of lettuce for an added nutrition boost. It’s also great when sautéed for a side dish.
Arugula (Eruca vesicaria ssp. Sativa) is a bitter and peppery leafy green. It’s easy to grow and you can plant new seeds every few weeks to keep a steady supply available for your salads and smoothies. If you are feeling adventurous, try it out as a pizza topping!
Arugula packs a lot of calcium and potassium. It can help to reduce the risk of developing diabetes and osteoporosis. If the taste is too strong for you, use a mixture of leafy greens to keep you from getting overwhelmed by the spicy bite this vegetable has.
Most people either love or hate Brussels sprouts (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera). These small, dense vegetables resemble small heads of cabbage and grow on stalks. Some folks may find them to be bitter, but when combined with sweet maple syrup or savory bacon, they are truly delectable. Roast them in the oven or steam them for a great addition to your dinner.
Brussels sprouts are high in fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. They can be a tasty way to help lower inflammation throughout the body.
If you plan to try your hand at growing your own Brussels sprouts, you will need to plant the seeds in a deep soil and keep them watered but not saturated. This vegetable is more tolerant of heat changes than other cruciferous plants.
Collard greens, or Brassica oleracea var. vinidis, are a fantastic green to make a healthy wrap without the carb-heavy bread. The broad, strong leaves are large enough to hold a variety of sandwich fixings. Cut out the woody part of the stem before using. If you prefer not to eat your collard greens raw, braise them with garlic and spices for a healthy meal accompaniment.
These greens have a high level of vitamin B-6 to control cholesterol and improve liver health. They contain a healthy dose of vitamin A for healthy and shiny hair, so they are wonderful for keeping you looking healthy as well as feeling fit.
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) can be planted indoors or outdoors and is a vitamin-packed green that is perfect for salads and toppings. The distinct taste will also make an unforgettable pesto sauce for pasta.
If you are worried about your risk of stroke or premature aging of the brain, then watercress should be added to your diet. Another benefit is the high level of potassium to regulate heart health.
Radishes (Raphanus Sativus) mature rapidly, so you want to be sure to harvest them before they grow too large if you want the best taste and texture. The flesh is crisp and sharp-tasting and welcome addition to most salads.
One of the best health benefits of radishes is the antifungal properties they contain, making them a perfect food to combat candida overgrowth and other fungal issues. Radishes have been found to aid in healthy liver function as well.
A lesser-known cruciferous vegetable is Daikon (Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus). This is a root vegetable that flourishes in loose soil. It does well in cooler climates and is typically planted as a fall crop. Keep it in full sun to partial shade.
Daikon is an excellent vegetable to add to soups and stews to keep you warm during the cold winter months. It has the ability to detoxify the body of harmful free radicals. Daikon has antibacterial and antiviral properties that make it an essential dietary staple during cold and flu season to ward off illness.
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) is another root vegetable from the cruciferous family. The root is primarily ground or chopped to be used as a spice or condiment, or it can be finely ground and made into a sauce that is perfect with roast beef.
This pungent root is best planted in the fall or early spring. It needs very little water and can benefit from the use of compost to enrich the soil. Horseradish is high in antioxidants that can prevent and repair cell damage.
Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea Gongylodes Group) is a biennial vegetable that is part of the cruciferous vegetable family. The petals that make up the bulb are waxy and can be several different colors.
This vegetable is best known in health circles for its ability to increase energy levels. It also contains a lot of iron to help ward off anemia. Kohlrabi can be peeled and eaten raw, or boiled.
The mustard plant is a tall, herbaceous plant with long, branched stems. Mustard goes by the scientific name of Brassica. It is primary used as a spice to season and enrich a variety of dishes.
Mustard has properties that increase metabolism. There is evidence that shows it as a successful remedy for some forms of asthma and other breathing issues. People that suffer from arthritis can use mustard internally, or as a topical poultice, to ease the pain and discomfort of their joints.
Rutabaga (Brassica napobrassica) is another root vegetable that is part of the cruciferous family. It is very easy to grow, although it does require a longer growing season. It is usually planted in the late summer and ready to harvest in fall. Rutabagas require frequent water, so make sure the soil is properly hydrated.
The health benefits of rutabaga include fighting off signs of premature aging and aiding in better heart health. Vitamin C and potassium are found in high quantities in rutabaga. You can get the benefits of this vegetable by roasting it in the oven with olive oil and spices or mashing it as a substitute for potatoes.
Another healthy root vegetable on the cruciferous vegetable list is the turnip (Brassica rapa subsp. Rapa). Turnips contain a lot of B vitamins, as well as manganese and copper. They are a good food to include in your diet to help prevent cancer and decrease inflammation.
Turnips should be planted in shallow soil and watered frequently. They are ready to harvest in five to eight weeks and can be enjoyed roasted.