What is Broccoli?
Broccoli is a member of the Brassicaceae plant family, widely known as the mustard family. Its official name is Brassica oleracea var botrytis. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi are all members of the Brassica oleracea family. Broccoli is a cabbage derivative that was chosen for its edible, immature blossom heads. Green or purple flower buds are collected before they blossom and eaten fresh or fried. Broccoli sprouts are also edible and a portion of popular health food in the United States.
Broccoli is a relatively new crop in the United States, having originated in the Mediterranean region where it has been cultivated since Roman times. Although the first commercial broccoli crop was planted in California in 1923, broccoli did not become a major commercial crop in the United States until after World War II. The United States is the world’s third-largest producer of broccoli. In 2014, the United States produced 2 billion pounds of broccoli worth over 800 million dollars, farmed on 129,000 acres of land, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The majority of broccoli gathered in the United States (90%) is cultivated in California, and 15-20% of broccoli produced in the United States is shipped to Canada, Japan, and Taiwan.
Varieties of Broccoli:-
⦁ Broccoli comes in three different varieties. The most well-known is calabrese broccoli, commonly known as “broccoli.”
⦁ Sprouting broccoli (white or purple) has a lot of thin stems and a lot of heads. Purple cauliflower, sometimes known as Violet Cauliflower, is a broccoli variety found in Europe and North America. It features a cauliflower-like head with a plethora of small flower buds.
⦁ The tips of the flower buds have a purple cast sometimes, but not usually. Cauliflower can be purple, white, red, green, or any other color. Other popular cultivars include Belstar, Blue Wind, Coronado Crown, Destiny, DiCicco, green Goliath, Green Magic, Purple Sprouting, Romanesco, Sun King and Waltham 29.
⦁ Beneforté is a variety of broccoli containing 2–3 times more glucoraphanin and produced by crossing them with a wild Brassica variety, Brassica oleracea var villosa.
The majority of broccoli cultivars are cool-weather crops that do poorly in hot summer weather. It grows best at temperatures between 18 and 23 °C (64 and 73 °F) on a regular basis. The cluster of blooms, often known as a “head” of broccoli, is normally green when it appears in the center of the plant. Cut the head around 25 mm (1 in) from the tip with garden pruners or shears. Broccoli should be harvested before the head blooms turn a bright yellow color.
Broccoli is a cool-season vegetable. As a result, the best time to grow it is during the cooler months of the year. The high temperatures of the summer months will have an impact on the plant’s growth. In India, September to November is the best period to plant broccoli. Global production in 2019 was 27 million tonnes (combined for production reports with cauliflowers), with China and India accounting for 73 per cent of the total. India is the second-largest producer of broccoli producing 7, 887,000 Mt. Major broccoli producing growing states of India are West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Gujrat and Jharkhand.
Nutritional Benefits of Broccoli:-
Nutrient Amount in 1 cup (76g) Daily adult requirement
Energy (calories) 24.3 1,800–3,000
Carbohydrate (g) 4.78 g, including 1 g of sugar 130
Fiber (g) 1.82 25.2–33.6
Calcium (milligrams [mg]) 35 1,000–1,200
Phosphorus (mg) 50.9 700
Potassium (mg) 230 4.700
Vitamin C (mg) 40.5 75–90
Folate (micrograms [mcg]) 49.4 400
Vitamin A (mcg) 6.08 700–900
Broccoli harvesting is mainly done when heads reach marketable size. The crop is ready to harvest after 80-90 days of transplanting. When broccoli is ready, harvest it. With a sharp knife, heads can be cut down to 3 to 6 inches in size, and this crop must be collected before little flowers appear on the crop heads. When the central head is still tight and compact, with no opening flowers, it should be harvested first. From the time of planting to the first harvest, it takes somewhere between 60 and 100 days. Along with the buds, up to 5 inches of the flower stems should be trimmed.
Do not allow the stems to become tough and woody. Side shoots will emerge after the central head has been removed. They should be sold as soon as possible after harvesting because they cannot be preserved for a long period of time. After 10-12 days after harvesting, sprouts are suitable for harvesting again. A high-quality broccoli harvests. The heads weigh between 250 and 300 grammes. Depending on the type, the yield ranges from 19 to 24 tons/hectare on average. Broccoli is packaged in a corrugated box or plastic crates, depending on market demand (apnikheti.com/en/pn/agriculture/horticulture/vegetable-crops/broccoli).
To reduce dehydration, pre-packaging broccoli is suggested. They use plastic materials to produce 250 to 500g packets for this purpose. The transfer is done in trays constructed of wood or cardboard of various sizes, with a capacity of 6 to 8 kilograms. Although some packagers do not do so, it is recommended that the broccoli be pre-packaged to avoid drying. Plastic film (polyethene) or plastic-covered trays are utilized for the primary inflorescence. Covered plastic baskets can be used to grow the sprouts. The package weights range between 250 and 500g when pre-packaging is done.
A tray coated in plastic that contains half broccoli and half cauliflower, prepared to be cooked in microwaves, has proven to be a very effective packing form. There are many sizes of packages for transporting broccoli, with capacities ranging from 6 to 8 kg and dimensions up to 600x400x150mm. These packages are composed of wood or cardboard and must be treated to prevent them from absorbing moisture from the substance. Broccoli is transported in bulk in packets weighing 3 to 12 kg.
Health Benefits of Broccoli:
- Good for heart health
- According to nutrition research, eating steamed broccoli on a regular basis lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering total cholesterol levels in the body. Another study in the United States discovered that eating more veggies, particularly brassica vegetables like broccoli, may lower the risk of heart disease. Sulforaphane, an anti-inflammatory compound found in broccoli, may be able to prevent or reverse damage to blood vessel linings caused by diabetes. According to the Harvard University School of Public Health, the vegetable’s B-complex vitamins can help control or reduce excessive homocysteine.
- Contains cancer-protective compounds
- While there are no single “superfoods” that will prevent cancer, and some cancer risk factors are unrelated to diet, there is evidence that a good diet helps lower cancer risk. Sulforaphane, a phytochemical that gives broccoli its slightly bitter flavour, is one of its most important components. Sulforaphane has been found in studies to aid in the detoxification of airborne pollutants like cigarette smoke, as well as lessen the risk of some malignancies. Broccoli may offer anti-cancer capabilities, lowering the risk of prostate cancer, according to new research. These cancer-fighting chemicals are considerably more concentrated in broccoli sprouts. The seeds can be easily sprouted on your windowsill, just like cabbage.
- Skincare not only includes glow but also its immunity. Since broccoli is a powerhouse of antioxidants and nutrients like vitamin C and minerals such as copper and zinc, it helps in maintaining healthy skin. This means it also protects the skin from getting infections as well as keep the natural glow of your skin. Broccoli is full of vitamin K, amino acids and folates, making it ideal for maintaining healthy skin immunity.
- It maybe good for eye health.
- Broccoli includes the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been associated to a lower risk of age-related eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration in studies conducted in 2003 and 2006. It also includes beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A and is linked to night blindness.
- It is a high-fibre food that assists digestion, reduces constipation, keeps blood sugar levels low, and inhibits overeating. It is also high in fibre, which makes it beneficial for weight loss. It’s an excellent green vegetable to use in salads and to round out your daily five-colour vegetable intake. Furthermore, it includes proteins, making it excellent for vegetarians who would otherwise be unable to meet their protein needs.
May support hormonal balance.
- Brassica foods, such as broccoli, contain indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a plant chemical that behaves like a plant oestrogen and may help balance hormones by controlling oestrogen levels. Although more research is needed in this area, I3C has shown promise in lowering the risk of oestrogen-induced breast and reproductive malignancies in both men and women. Brassicas, such as broccoli, appear to have an effect on oestrogen metabolism, possibly moving it to a more favourable state.
May support the immune system
- Brassicas like broccoli, which are high in sulphur, may help to enhance gastrointestinal health and, as a result, your immune system. This is because sulphur promotes the formation of glutathione, which is necessary for maintaining and repairing the gut lining. Glutathione acts throughout the body as an antioxidant, protecting cells from inflammatory damage.
- Broccoli, like many other whole foods, is high in soluble fibre, which helps to remove cholesterol from the body. This is because broccoli’s fibre aids in the binding of bile acids in the digestive tract. This facilitates the removal of cholesterol from our bodies. According to a study conducted by the Institute of Food Research, a specific variety of broccoli can help lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood by 6%.
Great for Detoxification
- Since broccoli is rich in fiber, it can help get rid of toxins through the digestive tract. Other than this, it’s also full of antioxidants that help in the overall detoxification of the body. It includes special phytonutrients that help in the body’s detox process. This means that the body gets rid of unwanted contaminants. It also contains isothiocyanates, which help in the detox process at the genetic level.
Prevents and fights pollution and toxins.
- Broccoli is a nutrient-dense vegetable that is high in vitamins and minerals. Its ability to fight against particular contaminants is what makes it an effective anti-pollution meal. The body benefits from the components found in the stub, not the sprouts themselves. In fact, a Chinese study discovered that sprouts were particularly effective in combating and detoxifying air contaminants at their source. When you consume broccoli, a phytochemical called glucoraphanin triggers a chemical reaction that attaches itself to the dangerous benzene complex, breaks it down, and recharges the body so it can eliminate it faster before it causes cellular damage. The same method has been demonstrated to be effective in removing pollutants from pollution and cigarette smoke. As a result, detoxifying the body as soon as you return home by consuming a simple vegetable like fresh juice or smoothie can help to mitigate some of the health concerns at the ground level. People who drank a concentrated tea produced with broccoli spouts expelled 61% more benzene and 23% more acrolein, a lung irritant, than those who drank a placebo beverage, according to a new study.(Ref timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/diet/11-health-benefits-of-broccoli).
Is Broccoli safe for everyone?
- Broccoli is a healthy option for the majority of us. If you have a thyroid condition, however, you should limit your intake of brassica vegetables. This is due to the fact that certain veggies may interfere with the absorption of iodine, which is required for thyroid hormone production. It’s worth noting, though, that you’d have to eat a substantial lot and on a regular basis for this to be a concern. It is a high-fibre meal that is helpful to most of us because it aids digestion and provides a fuel source for the good bacteria that live in our stomach. However, certain persons with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis may experience bloating and gas as a result of eating high-fibre meals. If you’re taking blood thinners like warfarin, your doctor or dietitian might recommend that you keep track of how much vitamin K you’re getting from foods like broccoli. If you’re unsure, talk to your doctor before making any major changes to what you eat or how much you consume.
Do read about raw foods as well.