Broccoli is a veggie-lovers favorite and is considered one of the healthiest things you can eat. It originated in Italy and was eaten by the Romans as early as 600 BC. In the 16th century, a royal marriage brought the plant to France and it was recognized for its unique flavor and highly nutritious flowers. Americans have been growing broccoli in their gardens for about 200 years. It is said that Thomas Jefferson was a big fan of broccoli, and in fact is credited for bringing it to America, growing it in his garden as early as May of 1767. Most Americans however didn’t become aware of it until the 1920s, but its popularity has grown. Today we eat an average of 4 pounds of broccoli per person each year. The word broccoli comes from the Latin word brachium and the Italian word braccio, which means “arm”. American Sign Language has no word for broccoli, you have to just spell it out. Ironically, according to a survey in 2009, the word “broccoli” is the 6th most commonly misspelled word in the English language.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable and a member of the brassica family which also contains cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, and kale. It contains soluble and non-soluble fibers, both needed by a healthy body, as well as vitamins A and C, potassium, folates, and iron. It is a great source of calcium, containing the same amount per ounce as cow’s milk. It contains the flavonoid kaempferol, which in addition to fighting cancer helps prevent heart disease and slow the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
Recent studies have shown broccoli to be a powerful cancer-fighter. It has also been shown to stimulate brain regeneration due to a biomolecule called sulforophane. Read more about that here.
New varieties of broccoli have come about by cross-breeding such as broccolini (broccoli and kale) and broccoflower (broccoli and cauliflower). Any variety is worthy of its place on the list of world’s healthiest foods. Try it steamed, roasted, sauteed, or even grilled.