Broccoli is a super food with many vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that trigger a complex, intricate set of biochemical pathways supporting overall health. High fiber content lowers concentration of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood and elevated blood sugar, promoting cardiovascular health. Helps promote weight loss. A superior source of antioxidants. Folate helps protect the heart/circulatory system and promote healthy fetal development. Contains sulforaphane, which fights Helicobacter pylori bacteria that can cause stomach cancer. Along with isothiocyanate, it also boosts production of detoxification enzymes, which can help rid the body of potentially carcinogenic chemicals. Speeds up metabolism of estrogen, which may help suppress breast cancer. The phytonutrient indole-3-carbinol in broccoli reduces the metastasis of cancer cells and risk of breast cancer. Other beneficial phytonutrients include carotenoids, flavonoids and glucosinolates (which get converted to sulforaphane). Great source of calcium for bone building. Vitamin C, beta-carotene and the enzyme cofactors zinc and selenium help maintain strong immune system.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – C, K, A, B9 (Folate), B6 (Pyridoxine), B2 (Riboflavin), B5 (Pantothenic), B1 (Thiamin), B3 (Niacin) and E
Minerals – Manganese, Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium & Zinc
Lowers risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, stroke, anemia, osteoporosis, cataracts, lung cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer and potentially many more.
How to Grow
In the Brassica family, broccoli is one of the most popular, easy-to-grow vegetables. Start from seed or find good local nursery to get disease-free transplant. Broccoli grows best in cool climates where daytime temperature remains below 70˚F. Choose soil that has drainage, good aeration and plenty of sun. Place plant where it will not cast a shadow on another that needs the sun, as broccoli can grow up to 3 feet tall. A pH between 6.2 and 7 is good. If higher, lime the soil to reduce. Mix in well-aged compost or manure. Broccoli has high nutrient demand. Add a couple fistfuls of plant mix with alfalfa, fish bone, and feather meal per yard to ensure nourishment. If you start with seeds, sow them about a month and a half before planting outside. Plant seedlings or transplants 20-30 inches apart. Keep soil moist by watering regularly. (Avoid water logging.) Keep soil weed free by pulling, mulching with organic matter or putting down black plastic as last resort.
Broccoli is affected by many common pests and diseases. Most significant is caterpillar stage of white cabbage butterfly, root maggots, flea beetles and aphids. A plastic row cover protects from the first three. Use an insecticidal soap or limonene spray to repel aphids. Remove pests when you see them. If physical removal doesn’t work, organic pesticide is a must. If caterpillars are resilient, spray Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), an organic agent that is safe for pets, humans and other garden plants.
When harvesting, cut the central shoot first to promote outgrowth of side shoots. This maximizes production of the edible vegetable portion. When cooking, the crunchier the better. If you let cooked broccoli get soggy, most nutrients are lost. To prevent club root disease, never grow Brassicas in the same plot year after year.