By Andrew Amouzou –
There aren’t many families that generate continued public contempt and controversy. Yeah, maybe the Kardashians and some just can’t help griping about the royals. No family, however, seems to receive more derision from detractors than the mustard family of greens, which includes Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and broccoli. That’s a shame and unfair. While tastes may vary, each brings its own benefits to the table, especially the infamous broccoli.
Broccoli has been picked on by everyone from U.S. presidents to thousands—maybe millions—of whining children, but experts agree this vegetable holds a powerful supply of nutrition.
These mini green trees are a great source of Vitamins C and K, potassium, protein and dietary fiber, according to the Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence. If that’s not enough, broccoli also holds a healthy dose of phytonutrients. The center explains that phytonutrients can play a significant role in cancer prevention, specifically decreasing the “potential of lung cancer, prolong survival in patients with bladder cancer and lower the risk of breast cancer.”
Its impact on cancer prevention doesn’t stop there. MedicalNewsToday reports that broccoli and other similar veggies, known as cruciferous vegetables, contain a range of antioxidants that help prevent cell damage that may cause cancer. One of the key antioxidants, sulforaphane, is one of the reasons why vegetables have the bitter taste that so many dearly loathe. Additionally, broccoli can also be used for “green chemoprevention,” which is the practice of using whole plants or extracts to help prevent cancer.
While some might not enjoy the way broccoli and other mustard green family members taste, others can’t help but enjoy that it’s big business. The Colorado center reports that the U.S. is the world’s third largest producer of broccoli, with California leading in U.S. production. It’s not even a close race, as the Golden State generates 90 percent of total output.
The U.S. may be one of the top broccoli producers, but the plant’s roots come from Italy. And while not all presidents endorsed the vegetable—think George Bush’s 1990 broccoli take down—Thomas Jefferson is responsible for introducing broccoli to the U.S. And more than two centuries later Barack Obama added his support by announcing he was delighted to tell the world that it is favorite food.
But don’t feel obligated to eat broccoli off the ground, although that it is a surprisingly common option. There is an endless assortment of popular broccoli-based dishes that touch all sorts of cuisines.
Ultimately, between big business, nutritional value and versatility, broccoli is a tasty green.