There has been so much hype given to superfoods these days that it’s easy to forget how some of the good old veggies we use to eat are just as fabulous. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when I suddenly had this strong craving for some cream of broccoli soup. So off to the grocery store I went to grab the ingredients I needed to satisfy my cravings. I’ll share my recipe with you below, but first, let’s take a closer look at why making broccoli part of our daily diet is a good idea:
1. Supports the body’s detoxification system. Broccoli contains 3 glucosinolate phytonutrients – glucoraphanin, gluconasturtiian, and glucobrassicin – which work together to support all the steps involved in the body’s detoxification process (activation, neutralization, and elimination of contaminants). They also make isothiocyanates (ITCs) which are molecules that regulate the detox process at the genetic level.
2. Helps to fight inflammation. Broccoli is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient that is not only commonly missing from our daily diets, but is also required to make anti-inflammatory messaging molecules. Just 2 cups of broccoli contains about 450 milligrams of omega-3s in the form of alpha-lionlenic acid (ALA), which is comparable to the amount found in a soft gel flax oil capsule.
3. Lowers the risk of oxidative stress. Broccoli is a concentrated source of many antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids. These nutrients all work together to lower the risk of oxidative stress which occurs when the body is not efficiently metabolizing oxygen. Just 1 cup of broccoli will give you 135% Daily Value (DV) of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant. When combined with the many flavonoids also found in broccoli, such as kaempferol and quercitin, vitamin C can provide ongoing support of oxygen metabolism in the body. Broccoli is also rich in the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, vitamin E, as well as the minerals manganese and zinc; all of which function as antioxidants.
If these three areas (inadequate detoxification, chronic inflammation, and oxidative stress) occurs in excess in the body, it can lead to the risk of cancer development. Because broccoli has the properties to combat them, it is therefore regarded as a food that helps with cancer prevention.
Just in case you need further convincing on the health benefits that broccoli can offer you, consider these:
- A recent study released by Arthritis and Rheumatism (August 28, 2013) found that sulforaphane, a compound found in high amounts in broccoli, plays a key role in preventing the progression of osteoarthritis. The research showed that sulforaphane has the ability to block the enzymes that cause joint destruction by stopping a key molecule responsible for inflammation.
- Broccoli helps to lower cholesterol, especially when they have been steam cooked. The steaming action increases the ability of the fiber components in broccoli to bind with the bile acid in our digestive tract. This binding allows for the bile acids to be more easily excreted from the body, resulting in the lowering of cholesterol levels. Steam the broccoli for no longer than 5 minutes.
- Broccoli is an excellent source of both vitamin A (11% DV in 1 cup) and vitamin K (116% DV), which helps to balance vitamin D metabolism (particularly when you are vitamin D deficient and supplementing in large doses).
So try adding some broccoli into your menu plan for next week. It’s an inexpensive vegetable, and takes no time to cook. You can easily add them into a stir fry, a salad, or as a side dish to compliment a meat or fish serving. And of course, it’s delicious in a my creamy broccoli puree soup that’s ready in just 30 minutes!
Creamy Broccoli Soup
1/2 bulb of fennel, cut into large pieces
1 1/2 onions, diced
6 cloves of garlic, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 large potato, cut into large pieces
1 bunch of broccoli (stems optional), cut into large pieces
Fresh basil leaves (about 6 large leaves)
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sunflower oil
4 cups of filtered water (or vegetable stock)
1. In a large pot (or steamer) bring 2 inches of water to a boil and steam broccoli for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium/large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the carrots and celery, cook for another 4-5 mintues, or until onions start to become translucent (reduce heat to medium-low if needed).
4. Add the fennel, potatoes, basil, oregano, and water. Gently stir, cover, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add sea salt to taste.
5. Let soup cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender, add the steamed broccoli and puree until smooth and creamy.
Soup can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, or frozen for future enjoyment.
How do you include broccoli into your daily diet? Leave a comment and let us know!
1. The World’s Healthies Foods, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=9
2. Vitality Magazine, October 2013 issue, p.54, Broccoli Compound May Prevent Osteoarthritis
3. Self Nutritional Data: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2356/2