Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and cabbage. A popular food of the ancient Romans, broccoli once grew wild on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
Eaten raw, the vital green broccoli has a number of nutritional elements. It is important to note that broccoli is best when eaten raw, because cooking and processing destroys some of its antioxidants. It has twice the vitamin C of an orange, almost as much calcium as whole milk (with a better rate of absorption) and contains anti-cancer and anti-viral properties with its selenium content.
Eating broccoli and broccoli sprouts may enhance your body’s ability to detoxify after exposure to food- and air-borne carcinogens and oxidants, thanks to the phytochemical sulforaphane, according to a recent study.
Broccoli is also widely studied for its apparent ability to fight and even prevent many different cancers and other ailments of the body. Also, the bioavailability (ability to be absorbed into the system) of isothiocyanates (a phytochemical, or plant chemicals) from fresh broccoli is approximately three times greater than that of cooked broccoli.
A study conducted on a group of ten smokers and ten non-smokers ingesting broccoli indicated the importance of consuming cruciferous vegetables to protect cells against DNA damage.