Friday, September 25, 2009

Broccoli—The Bi-Partisan Vegetable

OK. The bi-partisan tag might be stretching it a little, but this seems to be an era of extreme partisanship, so, stay with me here, this is kind of fun. Like many things in life, we love it, we hate it, we tolerate it, we ignore it. Yes, we even shun it and speak ill of it. But, no matter how you feel about it—that doesn’t change the fact that it’s good for you. You can eat it raw, with dip, stir-fried, steamed, roasted, in a frittata, in a casserole, in soup, hot or cold. There’s something here for everyone. And, no matter how you eat it, here’s what broccoli offers:

  • It packs the most nutritional punch of any vegetable.
  • It encourages production of enzymes which protect blood vessels.
  • These same enzymes reduce high levels of molecules which cause cell damage.
  • Broccoli helps the body produce the protein, thioredoxin, which protects against cell damage in the heart.
  • It contains sulforaphane, a compound found to be effective in triggering this protection process and increases the activity of a group of enzymes in our bodies that squelch cancer-causing agents.
  • Broccoli is a high fiber vegetable. Half of its fiber is insoluble and half is soluble, helping to meet our needs for both types of fiber
  • Broccoli provides a high amount of vitamin C, which aids iron absorption in the body, prevents the development of cataracts, and also eases the symptoms of the common cold.
  • The potassium in broccoli aids those battling high blood pressure, while its large amount of calcium helps combat osteoporosis.
  • The substances responsible for the green and purple colors of broccoli, vitamin C, beta-carotene and other vitamins and minerals, particularly selenium, copper, zinc and phosphorus, are great immune-strengtheners.
  • Due to its high fiber content and low sugar, broccoli helps fight the war on diabetes. The fiber helps keep blood sugar low and as a result insulin can be kept to a minimum.

What’s not to love?

So, to recap, on the one hand we have a vegetable that really is good for us—and has proven protective health benefits. It’s relatively inexpensive as vegetables go, and as long as it’s not overcooked (lightly steamed or raw is best), it truly “reaches across the table.”

It’s not an exciting or glamorous food—but it’s a great food choice. Working more of these “good” choices into our diets will go far in our quest to live healthier lives, and ensure our children live healthier and longer lives.

I’m not saying broccoli is the answer to health care reform, but I am saying it’s something we can all embrace for the health benefits. Whatever our political differences, broccoli is beyond doubt, a bi-partisan vegetable. Like it or not, I think we can all agree on that. So, bring on broccoli reform.

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